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Posted at 11:03 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Apple ups some iTunes song previews to 90 seconds

By Rob Pegoraro

You can now hear more of a song you're thinking of buying on Apple's iTunes Store. The Cupertino, Calif., company's digital-music outlet has extended its preview clips from 30 seconds to 90 seconds for some songs.

Apple informed record labels of the change in early November in e-mail messages that said, essentially, "if you don't like this, you can go sell your music someplace else."

But reports then suggested that every song longer than two-and-a-half minutes would get a longer preview, and that's not the case. Pink Floyd's roughly 24-minute opus "Echoes" only had a 30-second clip available when I checked this morning, and so did Fugazi's 2:53 "Waiting Room."

That said, even 30 seconds can be a long time in some cases: Minor Threat's "Straight Edge" only runs 45 seconds.

A slightly longer audition a song might not sound like a big deal, but in the historical context it is. Amazon's MP3 store--hint: often cheaper than iTunes--only offers 30-second previews. So do most other retailers and even publications that review music, though some may go up to 45 seconds.

That includes us. Back in my early days at the Post, one of my responsibilities was preparing clips for our Sound Bites dial-in service (this will sound crazy to younger readers, but we allowed readers to call in on a telephone, punch in a number and hear a low-fi preview of a song), and I was told that I should never record something longer than 40 seconds.

Are you finding some odd exceptions to iTunes' 90-second preview policy? Let me know in the comments if you've found any pattern to this.

By Rob Pegoraro  | December 9, 2010; 11:03 AM ET
Categories:  Music  
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I wish iTunes would stop their policy of only making some songs available if you buy the whole album.

Posted by: pirate1 | December 9, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

i like it! 90 seconds for a preview? I can dig it! This gives me more of an opportunity to determine if I actually like a song or not.

Good job Apple!

Posted by: rone1 | December 9, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

:30 never made a lot of sense! I always wondered how that :30 was chosen (and by what means: machine or otherwise). If a song features another artist, the :30 preview never really got to the guest artist. Or what if the song has a loooo-nnn-gggg lead in? Then I wondered, “Is this the song I wanted to buy? So, I see a longer preview as a good thing for the music I want to buy. I generally don’t get the typical, top-40 fare, for that “music,” :10 is long enough.

Posted by: ummhuh1 | December 9, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be no rhyme or reason: Kate Rusby's old album, LITTLE LIGHTS, has only six of eleven previews at 1:30.

Posted by: rbrtprt | December 9, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I remember the telephone service - I used to use that all the time. I had forgotten all about it though, guess the last time i used it was in the late 90's...

Posted by: greg421 | December 9, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Not news, advertizing. Why are you doing it?

Posted by: citigreg | December 10, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

This seems like a no-brainer to me. 30 seconds is not long enough. Especially when you're checking out a song from an artist you've never heard before. A lot of times I won't buy a song because I don't know if I like it or not based just 30 seconds! I think they should make it 2 or 3 minutes.

Posted by: carbon916 | December 10, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

iTunes still will not measure up to Rhapsody, which allows 25 full-length previews a month. I don't use the song preview to determine if I "like" a song. The song preview is helpful to me when I am looking for a song that has several different versions (remixes or covers). I use the song preview to find the "right" song. Thirty seconds definitely was not long enough. I look forward to the longer samples on iTunes, but will still use Rhapsody for most of my music browsing.

Posted by: midanae | December 10, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Why the praise for Apple? This is the company that bought and shutdown LaLa. LaLa allowed you to listen to a full song one time for free. IMHO, 90 seconds still isn't long enough.

Oh yeah, forgot about sound-bites. That was a while ago.

Posted by: Dunkin | December 10, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse was awesome. I'm still mourning its purchase by Apple.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | December 10, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse


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Posted by: shoestrade30 | December 10, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

To me, Christmas Time is Here (by the Vince Guaraldi Trio and made famous by the Charlie Brown special of my youth) is imprinted as the default feel-good holiday nostalgia. Decided I had to have it yesterday in a rare iTunes buy and found several of the album's selections offering over 1 minute of previews!

Posted by: Tim6555 | December 12, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

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