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Apple Turns on 90-Second iTunes Song Previews

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Apple (s aapl) made good on its promise to extend iTunes song previews to 90 seconds very early Thursday, Dec. 9. Only some songs 2:30 and longer will get the new preview length, with shorter tracks and some exceptions retaining the original 30-second preview length.

The company originally stated its intent to alter preview length in November, through a letter to music labels notifying them of the impending change. The letter didn’t mention when Apple was planning to implement the new times, but it did say that music labels should indicate their compliance by simply continuing to offer music through iTunes. Many labels weren’t very pleased with this decision, according to reports.

It looks like Apple’s hard-line negotiation wasn’t entirely successful, because not all tracks on iTunes 2:30 or longer have the new 90-second previews. For example, tracks from Ra Ra Riot’s The Rhumb Line all retain the 30-second preview length. Same with artists Bloc Party and Tokyo Police Club, which suggests that independent artists responsible for licensing their own content might be exempt from Apple’s blanket policy change. Major label releases seem mostly to have adopted the new standard.

Longer previews are only available through the U.S. iTunes Store as of this writing. It’s unclear whether Apple will be rolling out extended song samples to other areas in the future. It’s possible that this initial roll-out is just a trial to see how labels react before Apple flips the switch worldwide. We contacted Apple for comment, but the company didn’t respond in time for publication.

Personally, 90 second previews are a lot more likely to encourage me to buy an album, but I’m very conservative with my music purchasing and won’t buy something unless I’m absolutely sure I’ll enjoy it. How will the new sample length affect your own buying habits, if at all?

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