Apple may be planning ad-funded iTunes, according to UK Copyright Tribunal

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If you’re not a music industry executive, you probably haven’t spent much time perusing the documents from the recent UK Copyright Tribunal’s decision on online royalty rates for music publishers. But some people have, and they’ve turned up evidence that Apple is maybe planning to introduce ad-funded music on iTunes.

Digital music consultancy Music Ally did the sleuthing, which was published in its latest fortnightly report. Documents released after the UK Copyright Tribunal decided what the royalty rates should be show discussion around what happens when online music services give away tunes supported by advertising. And guess what? Apple was involved in that debate as one of the applicants in the Tribunal.

The Tribunal’s decision quotes witness evidence from iTunes VP Eddie Cue, where he states that Apple would only pay advertising revenue where “that revenue is earned as a result of an advertisement, sponsorship or a click-through link located on a Licensed service … and only where the Licensed Service is offered to the User at a price which has been artificially depressed to reflect such revenue.”

Sounds like ad-funded tunes to me. But Cue later specified that he was referring to “The placement of third party advertising at the start, end or during actual delivery of a Repertoire Work to a customer by way of a permanent download.” Meanwhile, the QC overseeing the Tribunal decision, Judge Fysh, is quoted as saying “iTunes may well carry advertising in future – hence their interest in these Applications.”

Interesting, eh? Music Ally stresses that these discussions were discussing the potential of ad-funded downloads, rather than laying out firm plans to introduce them. But it’s a fascinating glimpse of how iTunes could evolve in the coming years – especially given past research showing that price is a big issue for many consumers.

It also deals with my bugbear over ads being tacked onto the start and end of digital tracks. If they’re only shown while you download the songs, that’s fine by me…

Anyway, you can browse the full Copyright Tribunal decision by clicking here.

Music Ally website


Stuart Dredge

2 comments

  • iTunes already offeres free tracks (track of the week), and they advertise those tracks on the store and in emails to subscribing customers. Somebody is sponsoring/paying for those promotions.

    So, maybe this is nothing “new” at all, just addressing how they’d account for that current practice?

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