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Apple Denies Report of Online Music Price Boost

Apple Computer Inc. on Friday flatly denied a report that the computer maker was planning to raise prices for songs bought on its popular iTunes online music store.

“These rumors aren’t true,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Sequeira. “We have multiyear agreements with the labels and our prices remain 99 cents a track.”

Apple’s statement came after the New York Post reported on Friday, citing one unnamed source, that music fans may have to start paying more for some songs on Apple’s music store following contract renegotiations with the record labels ahead of the one-year anniversary of the store.

Since the launch of the music store last April, which works with Apple’s popular iPod digital music player, the company has sold more than 70 million songs. That figure was less than Apple’s goal of 100 million, but more than anyone else.

The store now has more than 700,000 tracks for sale.

Apple needed to renegotiate the contracts with the five major record labels, because they were initially one-year contracts and were signed ahead of the launch of the online music store last April.

Some of the terms of the contracts did change. The number of times an iTunes user can create a CD with the same playlist has been cut to seven from 10, Sequeira said.

That change was announced last week when Apple released iTunes 4.5 with new features such as “iMix,” which lets customers publish their playlists on the music store for other customers to purchase.

Japan’s Sony Corp. Tuesday became the latest entry into the increasingly crowded online music market.

The new service, Sony Connect, a unit of Sony Corp. of America, offers more than 500,000 tracks in a pricing arrangement virtually identical to Apple’s: 99 cents for each track and $9.95 for most albums.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sells songs for download on its Web site for 88 cents each.

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