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iTunes 'steals music's soul'

Detrimental to artists, record boss says

Far from reinvigorating the music industry, iTunes makes music a disposable, faceless impulse item and steals its soul, a leading indie label executive has complained.

Victory Records boss and founder Tony Brummel has defiantly refused to license any of his label's music through Apple's online music service. Speaking to the Hits Daily Double website, he explained why.

"Apple and iTunes do not care about independent labels or, for that matter, the record industry. Without the music industry, their site and their iPods are useless," he thundered.

He asks why the major labels agreed to a deal that helped Apple sell iPods but also meant that in many cases consumers simply cherry-pick the songs on albums, affecting artist incomes.

"Has anyone looked into any stock option kickbacks here?" Brummel asks. "Since when do record companies give their content away without extracting an advance?"

It is believed that the major labels require substantial advances from digital music services in order to allow them the rights to even carry their content on their services. These advances are understood to be in addition to any profits made from à la carte track sales. Sources have claimed that these advances have dramatically increased recently.

Apple now carries a great deal of clout in the music industry, as its market share means it is responsible for a significant percentage of sales.

Addressing this, Brummel said: "If only four percent of this business is iTunes, who cares? Focus on the 96 percent that is traditional retail. Traditional retail supports music 1,000 times more than iTunes does."

He also said that if the majors truly wanted to make a stand against Apple's insistence on a set pricing model, they would all "pull their content" from Apple's service.

"I absolutely believe that allowing people to cherry-pick the tracks they want from each album cannibalises full-length album sales and is ultimately detrimental to the artists who created the music," he explained.

Brummel doesn't mention his thoughts on music piracy – downloading music from peer-to-peer websites – and the damaging effect that has had on the music industry. Apple has always maintained that iTunes was part of the battle against online music piracy.

This story first appeared on Macworld.co.uk.

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