Will Vivendi’s Universal Music Group follow NBC Universal’s lead and walk away from Apple’s iTunes? Vivendi (V) boss Jean-Bernard Levy used a press conference Monday morning to gripe about Apple yet again: “The split between Apple and (music) producers is indecent … Our contracts give too good a share to Apple,” he said.
Vivendi/UMG is now on a month-to-month contract with Apple (AAPL), so it could theoretically walk away if it finally gets fed up with Steve Jobs and Co. But it would be much more difficult for Vivendi to do that than it was for NBCUniversal to threaten to pull its TV shows off iTunes (Despite making this threat, NBC hasn’t actually done so yet).
Digital TV downloads are a slice of a niche business for NBC, while digital sales are now crucial for the music industry–and Apple essentially controls digital music sales. So, despite Levy’s charming bluster, look for Universal to keep doing what it’s already doing: Making every effort to distribute its music as widely as possible beyond Apple and offering special incentives — like DRM-free music — to non-iTunes outlets. While continuing to kneel before the all-powerful deity known as Steve Jobs. Reuters