Apple will renegotiate its licensing deal with music labels early next year, and things could get ugly. Music labels want the flexibility to price tracks based on demand, charging more for popular songs and less for others. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, on the other hand, is fighting to keep tracks at $0.99 each, regardless of whether they're older album filler or the latest one-hit wonder.
"There's no content in the world that...doesn't have some price flexibility," said Warner Music Group Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference here. "Not all songs are created equal. Not all albums are created equal.Jobs has accused the record labels of getting greedy, suggesting that piracy will increase if iTunes prices rise. However, there's little indication that iTunes has made a significant dent in peer-to-peer song swapping at current price levels.
"That's not to say we want to raise prices across the board or that we don't believe in a 99-cent price point for most music," he said. "But there are some songs for which consumers would be willing to pay more. And some we'd be willing to sell for less."
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