iTunes Is Moving to 90-Second Previews. Will That Make Any Difference?

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Some secrets are impossible to keep, even at Apple.

And coming soon, the iTunes Store will start offering 90-second preview clips, according to updates being sent to various labels and content owners.

The move means more time to sample – a lot more time.  Instead of a 30-second drop-in, fans will be given three-times the pleasure.  But will that prompt people to make more purchases?  In some cases, the expanded preview could work in the opposite direction, and encourage fans not to buy the song after all.  Then again, longer listening time means longer engagement, and a greater window for an impulse buy.

But let’s be cynical for a moment though, shall we?  Perhaps this is just another knob-tweak that ignores broader issues like pricing, content ubiquity, and a consumer addiction to free.  Seems like an extra minute would do little to change years of disruption, but let’s see what the data says.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Apple mailed to labels, which apparently indicates that negotiation snags with publishers have been resolved – or are close to getting resolved.  Content owners are not required to take any action to accept the changes.

“We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States. We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases.”