Looks like Apple’s onerous licensing demands on iTunes Radio could be going to that crazy place. According to multiple sources to Digital Music News, Apple is considering penalizing any iTunes Radio holdouts by removing them from the iTunes Store.
Apple is reportedly pondering the strongarm tactic, according to multiple executives at digital distribution companies speaking in confidence to Digital Music News.
At this stage, we’re chasing down the chatter: earlier, one whisper pointed us to a letter from The Orchard stating that Apple would be removing the content of iTunes Radio holdouts. The Orchard executive Jaclyn Ranere subsequently told Digital Music News that those reports were erroneous. “I oversee all client communications and this is not something we ever wrote about,” Ranere said. The Orchard is among the largest digital distributors in the space.
Separately, UK-based distributor AWAL Digital may also be alerting clients. “According to my label’s distributor (KOBALT/AWAL), from what they have managed to learn from Apple so far, it seems like you won’t be able to have releases in the iTunes Store if you don’t accept iRadio as well,” commenter “Tony” posted in our earlier story about Merlin’s complete absence at the iTunes Radio negotiation table.
Other distributors are apparently aware of the possibility, though Apple has not confirmed any decisions. Another source actively reviewing the iTunes Radio contracts (and sharing ample details with DMN) admitted to the tying possibility, but could not confirm anything at this stage. “Seems as if AWAL made a similar comment as The Orchard,” the source noted. “I’m not willing to confirm that as yet.”
“But it feels entirely plausible that iTunes will decide to make it an ‘all-or-nothing’ deal. That would be consistent with their gestalt.”
The rumor follows a string of indie-unfriendly licensing moves from Apple, and continues to distance Apple from its benevolent ‘savior of the music industry’ image. Indeed, a number of readers are questioning whether Apple’s industry-friendly glow will continue after the launch of iTunes Radio.
More as the story develops.