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Tuesday, May 02, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple victorious in iTunes pricing battle

Apple Computer this week revealed it has renewed contracts with four of the largest US record labels to sell songs through its iTunes music store for just 99 cents each, the Financial Times is reporting.

The agreements, announced Monday, came after months of bargaining, and were a defeat for labels that had been pushing for a variable pricing model.

The music industry’s big four - Universal, Warner Music, EMI and Sony BMG – were reportedly unavailable to comment.

However, Edgar Bronfman, Warner’s chief executive, and senior executives at EMI and Sony had in recent months supported variable pricing, which would allow the labels to charge more than 99 cents for new tracks from top artists, according to the report.

The negotiations at times had become heated, with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs last year publicly calling the recording industry "greedy."

Although some had speculated that the big labels might sign short-term contracts with Apple as they continued to negotiate towards a variable pricing structure, several music executives privately acknowledge that they had "little leverage over Mr Jobs."