Apple had threatened to pull the iTunes plug if the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board increased the fees paid to publishers and songwriters, who feared that the three-member panel might lower the royalties for a five-year period. They had requested an additional 6 cents while the labels wanted to recast the entire pay structure -- a proposal opposed by the songwriters and publishers who feared that plan could reduce their royalties.
Apple -- which has mightily resisted tampering in any way with its 99-cent price point for tracks -- said that if the rate hike goes through and the labels refuse to absorb the entire resulting increase, the iTunes music store would become unprofitable and shutter.
"I never took seriously the idea they would take the store down because of an increase," said David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers' Association.
Apple said in a statement it was "pleased with the CRB's decision to keep royalty rates stable."
The accord also sets ringtone rates at 24 cents. Ringtone fees were previously negotiated on a contract-by-contract basis.
Last week, songwriters and publishers agreed to the rights to collect 10.5 percent of revenue from webcasters and companies offering music subscription services -- minus any performance royalties already being paid to the labels.