Universal threatens to pull songs from iTunes

Universal Music Group of Vivendi – the world’s biggest music corporation and home to the likes of U2 and Amy Winehouse– has told Apple it would not renew its annual contract to sell music through the company, according to leaked reports.

Instead Universal said that it would market music to Apple at will, a move that could allow Universal to remove its songs from iTunes on short notice, reports New York Times.

It has been suggested that this is due to the fact that the two sides do not agree on pricing and other terms for the future.

If Universal pull they catalogue, iTunes would lose access to record labels that collectively account for one out of every three new releases sold in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

Equally, sales of digital music through iTunes accounts for more than 15 per-cent of Universal’s worldwide revenue in the first quarter of 2007.

Insiders see the move as the culmination of growing tensions between Apple founder Steve Jobs and the record industry.

In the four years since iTunes popularised the sale of music online, many in the music business have become discouraged by what they consider the be the near monopoly that Jobs has held in the digital sector, the one area of the music business that is showing significant growth.

In particular Jobs stance on song pricing and the iPod’s lack of compatibility and music services other than iTunes have become points of contention.