Steve Jobs, the Chief Executive of Apple Inc., said that he is unlikely to give in to pressure from some ends of the music industry to add a subscription-based model to Appleâ€™s popular iTunes store. Jobs told reporters that there was little public demand for a subscription service where users â€œrentâ€ their music from iTunes. His comments come as the company he co-founded gears up for contract renewal negotiations with the major record labels over the next month.
Since Apple launched iTunes in 2003, it has sold more than 2.5 billion songs and now offers increasing numbers of television shows and movies. The music industry has been openly hoping that iTunes will begin renting songs to customers, mainly so record companies can make more money from recurring income. But Jobs said he had seen little consumer demand for that.
“People want to own their music,” he said. Industry executives and analysts said last week that they expect Apple to push for further concessions from record companies on selling music without copy-protection software known as digital rights management (DRM). Back in February, Jobs urged all four major record labels to drop DRM, a move that some observers at the time said was sparked by the pressure Apple faces from European regulators to open the iPod/iTunes family to other technology platforms.
Apple has already cut an early deal with EMI Group Plc (the third largest-record company) to sell music without copy protection software. “There are a lot of people in the other music companies who are very intrigued by it,” Jobs said. “They’re thinking very hard about it right now.”
The Apple/EMI deal leaves Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment — a joint venture of Sony Corporation and Bertelsmann — and Warner Music Group Corp. in a tough spot, analysts say. “We’ve said by the end of this year, over half of the songs we offer on iTunes we believe will be in DRM-free versions,” Jobs said. “I think we’re going to achieve that.”