Apple has raised its wholesale prices for US indie record labels, claims Digital Music News.

Many UK indie labels have complained that Apple's iTunes service offers them a different wholesale price than it does to major labels.

It is not yet clear if the US indie payment increase is being applied in the UK.

Consumer pricing remains unchanged by the new deal, at 79 cents per song.

In the US, Apple has met that criticism, raising its payments to indie labels to 70 cents per song - the same rate as it pays the majors (and inclusive of publishing royalties).

Indies win major parity

The report observes: "While different wholesale figures have been floating around since the beginning of the iTunes Music Store, one lawyer actively negotiating iTunes deals indicated that the 70 cents rate falls in line with current major label payouts."

Digital Music News describes the move as a "strong nod" to indies, and suggests Apple will increase its available song catalogue as a result.

Speaking at an industry event last week, Universal Music's senior vice president of eLabs Barney Wragg spoke of one more unresolved hurdle for digital music services.

Royalty hurdles may remain

He said: "One of the stumbling blocks to iPod and iTunes is that most artists haven't yet seen their royalty statements (for sales through iTunes). Some have predicted royalties will be one-fifth of what artists receive through conventional sales."

Speaking generally about Europe's digital music services, he praised Universal's auditing systems for such sales, saying: "All of the online services in Europe have had major (payment) issues with their reporting structure".

He declined to explain what such problems were.