Apple urges record labels not to participate in Amazon’s “Daily Deal” music promotions

Wed, Mar 3, 2010


An interesting report from Billboard highlights the increasingly heated battle between Amazon and iTunes over music release dates.

Apple has reportedly taken umbrage with Amazon’s “Daily Deal” promotion wherein Amazon will make an album available for purchase one day prior to the street launch date while also running banners advertising the early release date on artist websites, MySpace pages, and social network feeds such as Twitter.

When made abreast of the situation, Apple, never one to take things lying down, began telling labels that if they continue to make albums available for Amazon’s “Daily Deal” promotions that they would start withdrawing marketing support for those albums on iTunes.

Now while this may seem petty, there’s no underestimating the huge boost in sales that accompany being featured on the iTunes homepage. At the same time, Amazon’s own promotional initiative has also proven to be beneficial for artists.

The iTunes pushback against Amazon’s Daily Deal began when Island placed Mariah Carey’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” in the promotion. Amazon customers could purchase the album for $5.99 a day before its Sept. 29 street date, helping drive first-week U.S. sales of 168,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Still, one major-label executive following the situation thinks Apple has their priorities shifted around: “They are . . . diverting their energy from ‘let’s make this machine better’ to ‘let’s protect what we got'”

Billboard notes that once Apple started to voice their displeasure with label participation in Amazon’s Daily Deal program, most started to shy away from it altogether. So while putting big name artists on Amazon a day early may not be a wise move given the chane that it might not appear on the iTunes landing page, there is still something to be said for labels using Amazon’s Daily Deal program to help push lesser known artists looking to make a big splash.

Still, other label executives say the whole situation is fluid. While it may not make sense to participate in a Daily Deal promotion for artists that iTunes would typically promote, it may be sensible to partner with Amazon on a Daily Deal with other releases that may not get the red carpet treatment at iTunes, a major-label head of sales says…

“The whole issue is a kind of interesting dynamic,” a senior major-label distribution executive says. “Amazon is fighting a guerrilla war against iTunes, and now iTunes is getting frustrated because they work hard to set up and promote a release weeks in advance of the street date, and then lo and behold, Amazon jumps in there with this deal of the day and scrapes off some of the cream.”

Apple sure is getting more mafia like by the minute.


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