One of the more annoying aspects of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes Music Store -- the short 30-second snippets of songs available for purchase -- is about to get a little more bearable.

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 (Nasdaq: AMZN) doing so for CDs, long before Apple even launched iTunes. However, this was before digital distribution or the sale of tracks on a piecemeal basis. Offering potential buyers a taste of what an entire album's tracks sounded like helped ease any fears that an artist would pad a release with iffy songs.

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 (Nasdaq: GOOG) YouTube and likely stream the entire song as a video. Why hold back? 

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 (NYSE: WMG), and the same story's probably playing out at the other major labels, which don't break down their digital performance metrics.

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.