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Thursday December 9, 2010 11:49 am

iTunes extends song previews to 90 seconds

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Music

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Is 30 seconds enough time to get a feel for a song? If you said no, Apple agrees with you — today the company is rolling out 90-second previews for some songs on iTunes.

Prior to today, song previews were limited to half a minute, and for many songs they still will be. The 90-second previews are limited to songs that are more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length. Songs shorter than that retain their 30-second samples.

For example, looking at iTunes' most recent high-profile addition, the Beatles catalog, "Let It Be" (4:03) and "Hey Jude" (7:11) both get the 90-second treatment while "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (2:26) and "Love Me Do" (2:21) give listeners just 30 seconds to decide if they want to make a purchase.

The extension has been expected for over a month. Reports in early November said that Apple had sent a letter to the music labels informing them of the move, and that it was incumbent on them to opt-out if they didn't support the move. A cursory sampling of music from artists on all four of the major labels indicates none opted out.

For now the 90-second previews appear limited to the U.S. iTunes store. In the letter to the labels, Apple said it was believed that longer previews for some songs would lead to more sales, an assertion supported by research from Robert Morris University.

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