One of the more annoying aspects of Apple's
According to MacRumors.com and the Symphonic Distribution blog, Apple is advising record labels that it's about to begin offering 90-second clips of all songs longer than 150 seconds.
I'm not sure where the trend of offering brief samples began. I remember Amazon.com
Samples -- even 90 second clips, I'm afraid -- are stupid. I may be dating myself, but I remember the consumer-friendly vinyl shops. They had no problem laying the needle down and letting you hear entire songs if the store wasn't busy. Consumers and clerks alike were music fans, and the passion was contagious.
I've never gotten that feeling from iTunes. Its 30-second clips are like a food court employee handing out samples on toothpicks, as if I'd try to run away with the tray. The 90-second streams will be better, but they're still an incomplete experience.
The labels and Apple do know that I can just go to Google's
Maybe this is why Ping has gotten off to such a rocky start. For all of Apple's gloss and polish, Ping feels like a corporate site where short clips and "Buy" buttons rule, and little actual social discourse takes place.
The labels can't be as protective as they used to be. Digital music sales are falling sequentially at Warner Music Group
As the undisputed champ in both digital music distribution and portable media players, everyone turns to Apple. If the industry is slipping, maybe Apple isn't doing all that it can to promote music.
This may be the catalyst behind the longer samples. It's certainly cheaper to stream these days, thanks to competitive prices among content-delivery networks. Apple may be trying to be careful; it acquired Lala nearly a year ago, fueling rumors that it would co-opt that premium music-streaming service for its own.
I can't see an extra 60 seconds of sampled music helping turn digital music sales around. Can you? We've dismissed declining iPod sales in recent quarters, because plenty of other iTunes-tethered devices are thriving. However, the digital music industry is finally in a rut -- and Apple will need to think of something to dig it back out.
What can Apple do to jumpstart digital music sales? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is so old school that he still owns plenty of vinyl. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned here. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.