Apple’s iTunes offering Sony songs

AFP-JIJI

Sony said Thursday that music by its Japanese artists is now available on Apple’s iTunes store, in an apparent strategy shift aiming to cash in on soaring demand for online music.

Sony, which competes with Apple’s iPod and iPhone in the portable music player market, said its copyrighted Japanese-language songs had been made available for sale on iTunes from this week. Earlier this year, Sony Music Entertainment allowed songs by its Western artists to be sold on Apple’s online store.

Some analysts saw the latest move as part of a shift by Sony to reverse years of losses largely tied to its struggling television division. But a Sony spokesman said its Japanese artists’ debut on iTunes was held up by protracted contract negotiations, not a strategy to keep its rival from selling Sony-copyrighted music.

“We’ve been trying to expand our marketing channels, and Apple’s iTunes is the 15th site where we provide music,” he said. “We are starting now as we’ve completed contract terms.”

Prices for the Japanese artists’ songs will range from ¥200 to ¥250, the spokesman added.

BCN analyst Eiji Mori said, “Sony may have changed its strategy as sales of music CDs are declining while purchases of music via online shops are increasingly common.”

Sony’s once-iconic Walkman music player outsells Apple’s iPod in Japan, but the overall market is shrinking as more consumers use smartphones to play digital music, Mori said.