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Apple Wooing Smaller Labels

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  • Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amomynos Coward (674631) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:03AM (#6113515)
    This is great news, one problem with online music services always seems to be that they have only records of the big ones.
    • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Informative)

      by peter_gzowski (465076) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:23AM (#6113832) Homepage
      Emusic [emusic.com]? Multi-platform support (including Linux), VBR mp3s at 192kb/s average (encoded with LAME [sourceforge.net], no less), subscription based (all you can eat for $10 or $15). The only thing they DON'T have is the records of the big ones (unless you think Yo La Tengo and Modest Mouse are big).
      • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Informative)

        by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:54AM (#6114453) Homepage Journal
        I currently use both emusic and Apple's store. I like them both. Emusic's great appeal is that, once you've paid your $20, you can just download anything. So with a fast broadband connection, there's no reason NOT to get anything that sounds even remotely interesting. Furthermore, they have a lot of music that's pretty much impossible to get anywhere...I'm thinking of Edan's full length album, a gem of Boston underground hip-hop which I ordered at two local record shops, neither of which ever got it in.

        Of course, I've got pretty much every song I want on emusic at this point, so the pricetag is starting to weigh pretty heavy on me. Being able to download those tracks from Apple at comparable to higher quality, for $.99 or maybe a little less by album, is a viable and exciting alternative. Plus you get the cool album art, and just maybe they'll have the correct track names for Jiker's "An Eh for an Eh, a Toque for a Toque."
    • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:57AM (#6114019) Homepage
      one problem with online music services always seems to be that they have only records of the big ones.

      I U M A [iuma.org]

      Nuff said....
  • Death to Big Labels (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deton8 (522248) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:04AM (#6113518)
    Done properly, this kind of move by Apple could eventually kill the big record labels by removing their need to exist. Bands could get their product to market without the absurd overhead imposed upon them by the big labels. You all know the scam -- the big label "advances" the band a seductively huge blob of cash, then leeches it all back in fees and charges, to where the band become their indentured servants.
    • So long as you can persuade people that they don't need the sales and marketing that big labels can get you...
      • "So long as you can persuade people that they don't need the sales and marketing that big labels can get you..."

        Actually the *money* is the important thing, if old style radio promotion and in-store promotion produces the money for the artists then great.

        But if those labels don't know how to market to the Internet crowd, or they make money but don't pass it on to the artists, then the artists is better looking elsewhere.

        The Dinosaurs were big and dominated the earth and THEY DIED OUT.
    • by the end of britain (575444) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:25AM (#6113594)
      I love this service but ach, it is going to be a nasty business to be in. Apple has entered center stage with a model based on .99 cent downloads. Way cool! But the most obvious way for someone to compete with them is to offer a download service at a lower price--so expect someone to do that shortly. Apple's margins haven't been published, but I'd guess they're razor thin to begin with. Now .99 cents is already so low that there isn't much further to fall--if a price war ensues, it won't be long before corporations are running online music services as a loss-leader. In Apple's case, it promotes their hardware; other companies will have other ideas. Eventually, these services might very well lead back to where we started--corporate sponsored music-on-demand, with free content that is used as a tool to peddle something else. Look at the way Apple chases these labels--this is brand-name association for them. Think Different, Think Nirvana, etc. It entrenches Apple deep into the popular culture. So those who want free music--it may be coming sooner than you think.
      • by IIEFreeMan (450812) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:39AM (#6113653)
        According to this article [theregister.co.uk] from The Register, Apple is giving 65 cents out of the 99 cents to the music industry so effectively they look already thin on margin.
        • Unless they do to the labels what the labels do to the artists.

          Here's your 65 cents for the song. Now you owe us for marketing, bandwidth, processing charges, storage fees, AAC processing...
      • by ianscot (591483) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:03AM (#6113763)
        But the most obvious way for someone to compete with them is to offer a download service at a lower price--so expect someone to do that shortly.

        Maybe so. RealNetworks announced their (listen.com-hybrid) service last week [smartmoney.com], at 79 cents a track. Also -- oops -- $10 a month subscription. It's amazing how the competition doesn't seem to recognize that subscription fees are the obstacle. Apple's buck-a-song is just so easy to get your head around. We want to pay for songs, not to belong to some Columbia records club with monthly dues. The iTunes interface is fine, but it's the per-song-only thing that sells it over the alternatives.

        The other big bar to get over for other services is the licensing agreements. It sure looks like Steve Jobs used his name to get through obstacles that held everyone else up. It's kind of a race, too -- if someone else can get those same deals before the Windows version of iTunes comes out, maybe they can stake out the market share to avoid Apple's winning the new, bigger market of 'doze users. We'll see.

        • It's ... ahem ... apples and oranges. That $10/month also gets you unlimitted streaming access to their enntire catalouge, at decent quality. For me, since my computer IS my stereo, that's a pretty sweet deal.

          Also - I'm not sure about this, but in poking aronud the FAQs it looked like you could still purchase tracks to burn to CD -without- signing up for the $10/month service. I believe they give you a 30-sec preview. So on the service most comperable to Apple's (although you don't immediately get a lossy-
          • by frightenedmonkey (647424) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @12:26PM (#6115955) Homepage
            I went and dug around on the site, and the FAQ states pretty explicitly that you have to already be paying their subscription fee to buy tracks to download. Stated explicitly:
            8. Do I have to be subscribed to the All Access subscription plan to burn CDs? Yes. Only subscribers to the RHAPSODY All Access subscription plan at $9.95 per month, will get the ability to burn tracks for an additional fee per track, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
            Plus, what you can buy to burn is a limited subset of what they have available to listen to. Overall, it doesn't sound like a good deal to me. Think about how much you'd have to download to beat Apple's price, you break even at about 50 tracks a month ((50 * $.79) + $10 = $49.5; 50 * $.99 = $49.5), that's a lot of music I'm not going to buy every month. I mean, if you had a bunch of songs you wanted to buy (more than 50), and you could sign up for only a month (I couldn't find a minimum subscription time limitation, but I didn't look particularly hard), then maybe it would be a good thing to use, but it seems like a big hassle to me. They also offer a $4.95/month plan that only allows you access to the streaming library. But, still, I take CDs I burn into my car, to friend's -- a lot of places where I'm not going to listen to music through my computer, so it's not right for me. Obviously, there'll be some people who'll be satisfied by Real's service, but I'm betting that most will be like me. I guess Apple is, too.
          • Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @12:50PM (#6116145)
            Even if you're able to pay for a single song on Real without subscribing, you have to pay per song you download to CD!

            That means that if you want to keep a song, you have to burn it to CD, then rip it, then manually enter the track information - all to just keep the song in your library, and all at whatever bitrate Real supports (not sure if they are good or bad in this area).

            With the Apple service, I can buy a song and I really own the electronic copy of the song to start with - complete with ID3 style information and cover art.

            To summarize, with Real you are paying for a single physical copy that is difficult to manage electronically. With Apple you are paying for a digital copy with all of the benefits implied by owning a digital copy, including being able to make many different mix CD's and keeping information about the song with the song.

            People constantly discount the workflow, if you will, of music ownership - that's why Apple's store is so popular. It finally achieves some of the promise of digital music distribution that has been so obvious for so long.
          • I think their selection is tolerable. I have been able to find a little bit of most things, i.e., they might only have two of Jane's Addiction's 4+ CDs, but they do have something. I am only on my third day of this trial period, but I am actually extremely pleased with the service.

            The software is typical Real bloat, and it is unconfigurable to an annoyting degree. It not unattractive, and it is fairly easy to use. It can definitely be improved, but it's tolerable.

            What I have started to fall in love with are Real's streaming channels. Here are the categories of channels:
            Rock/Pop
            Alternative/Punk
            Rap/Hip-Hop
            Soul/R&B
            Country
            Jazz
            Electronica/Dance
            Worl d/Reggae
            Classical
            Oldies
            Vocal
            New Age
            Sacred/Gospel
            Blues
            Folk
            Easy Listening
            Soundtracks/Musicals
            Children/Holiday

            Each category has somewhere between 1 (Children/Holiday) and 19 (Rock/Pop) channels. I have been listening to the Indie Rock and the Ambient channels a lot at work, and I've been surprised and delighted with Real's quality of song selection. Not only do they play songs by some of my favorite artists in these genres, but they have introduced me to some really wonderful new artists. I've already bought two CDs of artists I discovered on this service. Also, a small box displays interesting tidbits of information about each song/artist as the song is being played.

            I don't care if I can't copy the songs to my mp3 player of burn a cd. That's not why I want an MP3 service really. If am going to buy music, I am just going to buy a cd. I have a good backup that truly can sound better than any mp3 version (on the right equipment), and I can do anything I want with the mp3s I rip from it. If I am paying for music, I don't want restrictions.

            With the Real service, I am not really paying for music. I am paying for a very high quality, on-demand, highly configurable Internet radio station.

            For $10/month (only $5 for first three months), I get unlimited streaming access to over 325,000 songs. I can't listen to those songs without a computer and broadband connection. That kind of sucks, but it's only $10/month.

            Also, you can burn certain songs to CD for $.79, as has been pointed out elsewhere, but I haven't really explored this much, as I have had no desire.

            Anyhow, I highly recommend this service to people who feel similar to me. I really just want a badass Internet radio station, and Real's Rhapsody service is the best attempt I have seen so far.
      • Slim Margins (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Landaras (159892) <.neil. .at. .wehneman.com.> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:42AM (#6113941) Homepage
        I know a significant part of the 99 cents a song goes to process the credit card transaction. Why doesn't Apple offer people a discount to prepay larger amounts? Say, pay $50 at once, and get to download 60 songs at your leisure?

        For example, let's say that it costs Apple $.20 + 3% of the transaction for each purchase (I'm sure someone can correct me with more exact figures.) So, if I download sixty individual songs, Apple has paid $13.80 in credit card fees on $59.40 in revenue. They now have $45.60 to put towards licensing, other expenses, etc for those sixty downloads.

        Now let's see if I paid $50 upfront and got to download sixty songs. Apple only pays $1.70 in credit card charges, and has $48.30 to put towards the other expenses for those sixty downloads. In addition to saving $2.70, Apple also just generated some goodwill on my end because I appreciate getting ten extra songs on the deal.

        Multiply that relatively significant savings by the huge volume that iTunes generates (even more when it's released for Windows [and hopefully Linux]), and Apple could definitely help pad that margin a little.

        - Neil Wehneman
        • Re:Slim Margins (Score:5, Informative)

          by clifyt (11768) * <(moc.liamg) (ta) (rettamkinos)> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:33AM (#6114269) Homepage
          Its not that bad -- they already combine a lot of orders. They prebill $1 on your card -- like gas prepay stations and restaraunts do pre-tip.

          In the next few days, anything you order gets thrown onto the same bill. Over a 3 day period, I got one credit card charge and one hold. I'm not sure what the magic billing time is as I stopped buying after the third day and waited two weeks to make my next purchase.

          That and the fact we are talking a HUGE multibillion $$$ company, they probably have a little better rates than the standard merchant $.20 + 3%. When you deal in this kinda bulk, you can afford to make some demands :P Heck -- my company processes its cards through another company (we have sorta a collective going on between sound design companies) and that alone saves us a lot (since our volume was so low, it was going to cost like $50 a month, $0.50 a transaction and 4% of the sale -- its around the rate you quoted now that we share the billing).

          This would probably save them SOME money, but right now I think its not hurting either you or them the way they have these things. I'm all for getting more music -- maybe you could explain this from another perspective -- if you are willing to throw $50 in as a gift certificate you have demonstrated that you are a loyal customer and thus should get a discount...
      • by mblase (200735) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:16AM (#6114138)
        Apple picked $0.99 because it's a critical price point in the minds of consumers. It's as high as you can get and be less than a dollar, and $1.00 is already considered a pittance by most consumers -- especially those used to $15 CDs.

        On the average, most consumers won't differentiate between $0.89 and $0.99, any more than they'd shop at a different store to pay $11.89 instead of $11.99. Even $0.75 isn't such an improvement over $0.99 psychologically speaking -- a competitor would have to go as low as $0.50, or close to it, to take customers from Apple on price alone.

        Besides, we're selling bits here, not products. "Razor-thin margins" don't actually exist with virtual merchandise. Apple's had a nationwide network for distributing media quickly for some time now -- specifically, for QuickTime movie trailers -- and *that* was for zero profits. All they can do with this store is make money.
      • Apple is about to become a _very large label_ on their own.

        If they come up with a form of pay-to-publish (as simple as their pay-to-buy system is), instead of some garage band who actually may not suck paying $1000 for CD's, Apple may be able to provide anyone with a meager amount of money the chance to sell their wares on iTMS.

        Different levels of funding may get you more presence on iTMS just as more money on eBay gets you better presence on eBay.

        Apple, if they can do this, can inflict serious damage on
    • I am not too sure....
      It is not music which is the commodity which is really being bought by the customers.It is the so called "experience". This calls for marketing (advertising), videos (why must music have a video to go along with it), coolness factor (mainly influenced by advertising, friends) etc.Most of these cost money. All Apple could do is to provide a distribution channel, cutting the cost in getting to the market.
      Also if Indie's start selling well, the music labels would probably pull support f
  • Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xpurple (1227) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:05AM (#6113522) Homepage Journal
    This makes me very happy, more music to buy from Apple!

    How many times have you bought a CD just because of one track that was worth having? You no longer need to do this. This is exactly what I've been looking for. The ability to do this has been around for several years but it takes a good company like Apple to stick thier nose on the line and do it.

    This is how it should be.
    • Re:Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dingo (91227)
      That is true about the one song thing but if it catches on it may be the death of the album, which i think will be a loss :- Think the white album, I love some of the lesser know ones on that more than the 'commercial' ones, which i would never know but for the album :)
      • Re:Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:07AM (#6114519) Homepage Journal
        Not really. Think about mp3 downloads...for every two or three people content to download just the radio song, there seems to be one guy willing to pull down the whole album. A lot of music fans realize that albums have a different overall texture and sound than single songs -- and that there may be plenty of gems on the album that never make the radio (either because they're not cleared by A&R for promotion, or because they're not "clean").

        If one out of every three downloaders grabs the whole album at $11, while the other 2 just get the single track, you're making $14. If you only make the single, you make $3. Albums are still the driving force...and those music lovers who get the whole pie are going to direct their friends to the great tracks they may have missed.
    • Re:Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:29AM (#6113605) Homepage Journal
      This makes me very happy, more music to buy from Apple!

      I agree with this sentiment, but the next step I would like to see from Apple is the ability to access their service from outside of the USA and most importantly any platform, this includes both Linux and MS-Windows. Either that or let's just hope that no one signs any exclusive contracts, since I still want the option of buying my music from another distributor.

      The last point brings up another point. Part of the larger problem appears to be film and record companies trying to keep their distributors happy (region encoding on DVDs is really for this reason). This appears to be the real bottleneck in getting the audio and visual media to the client. If the distributor doesn't want to take the risk, on selling music of smaller bands, then you are left having to finding out doing the foot work yourself. Online music reduces the distribution costs and the risks, so hopefully we should be seeing more smaller artists and international music, available outside of their intended market - yay!

      One other thing is hopefully Apple won't increase the price of the songs as a particular one becomes popular. For example the CD for T.a.t.u. when it first came out in Canada was $11, now that they have become popular the price has shot up to $20!?
      • One other thing is hopefully Apple won't increase the price of the songs as a particular one becomes popular. For example the CD for T.a.t.u. when it first came out in Canada was $11, now that they have become popular the price has shot up to $20!?

        I've noticed weird things like that happening in conventional music delivery systems, too (a few years ago, when 1999 rolled around, I saw Prince's album 1999 being promoted at Camelot Music with an endcap in the store and sold for $17.99, despite having been

      • Re:Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MoneyT (548795)
        The main barrier to access outside of the US is again licencing. Often just because a company here in the US owns music doesn't mean the company in another country is the same one.
  • by frs_rbl (615298) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:05AM (#6113523) Journal
    ...the decision to join the iTunes store would come down to the compensation package that Apple is offering, which he has not yet seen

    What else, other than a percentage of sales, can Apple offer to a music company, and whether this alone will make the more RIAAistic ones join this or any other online music distribution system

    just wondering...
    • by Ja-Ja-Jamin (661760) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:55AM (#6113724)
      Umm... If you looked into how the music distribution system REALLY works you'd see that there are LOTS of things that typically are offered. Walk into any store that sells music. You see the display on the end caps? (the end of the aisles). The record labels typically PAY to have space on the end cap - many times they pay with free merchandise. i.e. We'll give you, Mr. Retailer, 1000 free CDs of each artist you feature on the end cap for x period of time. Or, we'll provide you, Mr. Retailer, with X dollars for "marketing" if you'll feature artist X prominently in your weekly circular. The same thing applies online. "Review my artist, feature my artist on the home page, feature my artinst on the "what's new" page, your newsletter, etc...." in return we'll give you reduced commission for X number days/downloads, etc. :-)
  • Now we can have music that is worth a dollar a track to listen to.

    I'd hope the indy labels insist on a bigger percentage of the 99 cents then the big 5 labels get.

    This sounds like an excellent way to support small and local bands, something mp3.com had the potential to do, but failed completely.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus.habent@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:23AM (#6113588) Journal
      I don't think that indie labels are likely to request a bigger cut than the big labels. With smaller overhead and fewer artists to bring to the table, asking for more money than Universal would be much like giving Apple the finger.

      The same percentage may give them better margins than they are used to receiving with conventional sales. Also, Apple needs to make some money at this, or it loses its viability, even if it is also a form of advertising.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ja-Ja-Jamin (661760)
      A former coworker, who was making great money during the day, more than doubled his income as an unsigned artist on MP3.com. I've found and purchased music from unknown bands I've found on MP3.com. This doesn't exactly qualify as "failed completely". My two cents.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

      by baka_boy (171146) <lennon.day-reynolds@com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:49AM (#6113692) Homepage
      The major labels are already getting $0.65 from every track sold through the Apple music channel. I would expect that most of the independent labels would club baby seals for that kind of profit margin.
  • by DrTentacle (469268) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:07AM (#6113531)
    I'm pleased to see that they are aiming to provide a better cross section of music rather than just focusing on the big labels. My taste in music wouldn't be satisfied with just the majors, and I suspect a fair chunk of the /. readership would be the same.

    The only problem I can see is that this doesn't go far enough. Independent labels are a good thing, but it seems they are only targeting the larger ones. When they get to the stage where the smallest labels and individual artists can coexist in the service with the majors, I'd be tempted to give it a go. I can't see the RIAA being too happy about coexisting with what is effectively the competition, though.
    • Give them some time, man. They had to get the Big Five on board first, then they'll add the larger independents, then the medium ones, then ...

      Nothing worthwhile happens overnight.

    • There once was a woman at the beach. Her son was swept away by the tide.
      She prayed to God to have her son brought back. Suddenly, the tide changes, and her son comes sweeping back in. The woman looks up at the heavens and says "He had a hat!"
      I am sure there is a message there somewhere...
    • I can't see the RIAA being too happy about coexisting with what is effectively the competition, though.

      Virtually 100% of these "indie" labels are RIAA members.

  • Cospiracy!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's a ploy!!!
    It's from the RIAA, they will all go there, and...and..KABOOM!!!
    It's all a ploy from them, im sure!
  • by lingqi (577227) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:10AM (#6113548) Journal
    is it possibly conscievable that, if EVERY mac owner (on average) is going to spend some bux on the music store, that Apple can actually subsidize the price of the hardware, and create a circle of more-and-more sales?

    say if they found out an iPod owner chokes up an average of 300 dollars over the life of the iPod - then they can price the iPod at maybe a 150-200 discount from where they are right now - which means MANY more people would be buying iPods, and buying more music, and probably a few extra Mac sales on the way.

    One heck of a job Jobs is doing.
    • is it possibly conscievable that, if EVERY mac owner (on average) is going to spend some bux on the music store, that Apple can actually subsidize the price of the hardware, and create a circle of more-and-more sales?

      It seems the game console model would be pretty clever in the case of the iPod, the only fear being future models locking in proprietary formats (AAC only?) Extrememly unlikely, but perhaps neccessary with subsidized hardware.

      Brings up a good question, though. Does anyone know what the cu

    • by ianscot (591483) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:50AM (#6113695)
      say if they found out an iPod owner chokes up an average of 300 dollars over the life of the iPod

      That's what you pay up front for the little deck of cards itself, right? For the 10 gig version?

      As gets said a million times whenever someone hints at Mac OS X getting ported to other machines, Apple's a hardware manufacturer. They think of the iLife suite of programs as a "loss leader" that encourages people to buy their hardware. In a lot of ways the new iTunes store is a way to encourage iPod sales -- and whether they would see it the other way around is a big question mark.

      Maybe you're right, though. The iTunes for Windows thing does seem to break that model -- they'll be selling software (on the cheap?) to get people hooked on their content service, is the idea. Maybe music is really as completely different a direction and business model as you're saying...

  • It's not enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sparkes (125299) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:16AM (#6113559) Homepage Journal
    Instead of paying EMI et al for the right to listen to a song I get to pay Apple.

    Indie companies are still going to get ripped off they just get ripped of by an electronic distributor instead of an offline one.

    Bands will still get very little cash for their effort.

    Every band (or at least every indie label) should have their own website and take micropayments from customers direct. If you only had to pay a few pence for the rights to listen to a track you could share with your friends and if they like it they can go a pay for it as well.

    One of the big reasons for piracy is the cost of tracks and how the cash is distributed. Micropayments with the vast majority going to the artists would eleviate these problems.

    If any bands are willing to give this a try, get in touch I can help you get up and running for minimal cost ;-)
    • it's not so simple (Score:5, Informative)

      by lingqi (577227) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:31AM (#6113611) Journal
      One big hurdle you'd have to jump through first is the "take micropayments."

      From a merchant perspective, micropayments SUCKS ASS because the cost of processing such a payment is more expensive than the amount being paid. You end up with the same problem you describe, except now you are forking all the dough to the payment companies.

      besides, even if we grant what you imply, that Apple is merely the lesser of two evils - I must remind you that up until now, almost all major distribution channels for music wants to screw you both ways - pump the artists dry AND limit the consumer's rights to their stuff. Apple, if not given any other credit, must be commended on their effort to make sure you can do (for the most part) whatever you want with the music you bought.

      not only that, having a central place where your stuff is catalogued and easily purchased is a good thing. It's much less likely somebody will stumble upon your little corner of a website - but much more likely if you show up when they browse through the genre that they like on a major catalogued site. Don't underestimate the necessity of advertising channels, and the distribution / payment channels as outlined in paragraph 2.

      I think right now there are two battles - one between the consumers and the labels / distribution / retail channels, and one between the bands and the same. Apple mostly allowed the first battle to be won in favor of consumers - the bands are another battle altogether - and i am sorry to say, unless there are some serious reason why the consumers would care to get involved, the vast majority of them probably wouldn't.
      • by Idarubicin (579475)
        besides, even if we grant what you imply, that Apple is merely the lesser of two evils - I must remind you that up until now, almost all major distribution channels for music wants to screw you both ways - pump the artists dry AND limit the consumer's rights to their stuff. Apple, if not given any other credit, must be commended on their effort to make sure you can do (for the most part) whatever you want with the music you bought.

        The big problem for Apple is that they are not a record label themselves--s

    • For site design & hosting, file (music, preview) storage, server capacity for traffic, bandwidth for downloads, a payment management system, and a support staff for updating and maintaining the site - I'd say $0.33 per song isn't unreasonable.

      With Indie labels only it could probably less as you would have a smaller audience. But, if you get Indie music on a large site, you expose a larger audience to your music.

      Plus, I hope that we will start seeing varying prices on the Apple Music Store.
    • Indie companies are still going to get ripped off they just get ripped of by an electronic distributor instead of an offline one.

      Bands will still get very little cash for their effort.

      Do you have any facts to back that up, or are you just trying to sell your own micropayment system?

      From the article:

      Poneman said the decision to join the iTunes store would come down to the compensation package that Apple is offering, which he has not yet seen.

      And:

      But, he cautioned, were Sub Pop to join iTunes, the

    • by mental_telepathy (564156) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:48AM (#6113689)
      One of the big reasons for piracy is the cost of tracks and how the cash is distributed
      No, one big reason for piracy is people don't like to pay for stuff. Cash distribution is a small reason for piracy.

      I consider myself an average consumer. I probably average about 3 CDs a month. With the apple store, I can go to one spot and get a lot of good music with few restrictions and reasonable prices. And now, there will even be indie music.

      However, I should give this up in favor of a plan that would involve me visting 20-30 web sites a month and entering my credit card information on web sites with God knows what security holes.

      I am sympathetic to the plight of the indie artist, but an average consumer is not going to put in the kind of work you are suggesting. And with the apple store, they at least have a chance to make money on volume

    • Indie companies are still going to get ripped off they just get ripped of by an electronic distributor instead of an offline one.

      Ripped off? How do you figure? I don't see an Apple goon squad forcing any indie artists or labels to use the iTune Music Store. Last I checked, this was entirely voluntary.

      Bands will still get very little cash for their effort.

      The VERY FACT that Apple is reaching out to indie labels is tremendous news for the artists. The internet has the potential to level the playing fiel
  • by Noodlenose (537591) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:19AM (#6113570) Homepage Journal
    ...is the prospect of a deal between Apple and Amazon.com that was mentioned.

    The synergetic effects would be impressive for both companies, as Apple would have their products available on the biggest online retailer on earth and would benefit from amazons itunes link up. Amazon would get exposure to the big - spending Apple users.

    Clever..

  • I'd like to see more content from Roadrunner records [roadrunnerrecords.com]. They own Slipknot, Machine head, etc.

  • by Chroneos (545099) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:20AM (#6113577) Homepage
    ...which labels show up on iTMS, I'm hoping to not only see spinART and Rough Trade, but also smaller labels like Mezzotint who seem to have most of their old catalog out of print aside from vinyl and cassette. I've been saying since its debut, iTMS can be a vehicle for low budget labels to get digital media out with less cost than a run of discs.
  • iTMS a killer app? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by klmth (451037) <mkoivi3@unix.saunalahti.fi> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:22AM (#6113585) Homepage Journal
    As a non-apple user not living in the US, it will take a long time for me to get my grubby paws on the iTMS. If it was available in my neck of the woods, I wouldn't even think twice about buying a powerbook just to get at the music store.

    The concept of small payments for songs will change the way people buy music. P2P apps have conditioned users to search for one song at a time for several years now, and paying a reasonable fee for a song isn't such an alien thought anymore at all. When Apple releases their x86-compatible client, together with a global release, the labels will have to face the music.

    Online distribution will make distribution a non-issue, putting the indie labels on equal footing with the major players. The only advantage for signing on a major label will be the marketing machinery, and if iTMS would incorporate a net radio, even that would be a questionable advantage. Think about it: hearing indie songs on the net and actually being able to buy the single on the spot with one click will bring independents to the forefront.
  • by mblase (200735) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:23AM (#6113586)
    Microsoft and AOL/Time Warner are running fast [com.com] to get their own online Apple-like music store up and running, now that Apple's has been the success it has been -- doubly so since Apple's planning a Windows version of iTunes and the music store by the end of the year. Microsoft could probably beat them to market with a shoddy music store without even sweating.

    So Apple needs to get ahead and stay ahead. To do that, ease-of-use isn't enough (or Apple would have the 95% user share, not Microsoft) -- they need to have the biggest, most comprehensive, most searchable library of online music anywhere. Consumers won't get iTunes if Microsoft's store is already installed, but they will get it if iTunes offers three times more songs.

    I think that once Apple gets a large number of indie labels in the store, the rest will eventually come on their own. That, plus a $100 iPod of any size, will be all they'll need to stay ahead of the competition for some time to come.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is the fallacy though. Apple has been planning the ITMS for almost 2 years. They made sure the record labels KNEW it wouldn't be a "shoddy" implementation and that if ANY problem arose they'd have it fixed in 15 days. They have already lived up to that promise. While we considered it crippling, RIAA considered it neccesary to prevent list sharing, a la iTunes 4.0.1 A company coming out with ANYTHING less than a full hardware and software solution as Apple has given won't fly.
    • Maybe not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by doormat (63648) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:54AM (#6113718) Homepage Journal
      One of the reasons Apple (I think) is doing so well is that the DEM isnt draconian. With MS/AOLTW/whoever, they have no vertical integration. How do I take a DRM'd WMP or Real Media clip and put it on a portable device like an iPod. Any iTMS competitor needs the following..

      1. The ability to get the same DRM terms as Apple (own the song, burn to CD, etc).
      2. Have a way to listen to it away from the computer (burn to CD, iPod like device, etc).
      3. Same $1/track price.
      4. Large selection.

      Leaving out any of these items will doom the company to failure.
  • ...that Apple is there to make money too. What is it that RIAA provide artists? Shelf space and promotion. What is it Apple can provide? Virtual shelf space and promotion.

    So, if the Apple store really takes off (like, really making a dent in total sales in all outlets combined), you'll need them more than they you, and I'm sure it'll cost the artists.

    Then again, an "expensive" shelf place (aka Apple takes most of the profit) right next to the big bands is probably better than no shelf space, or some obscu
  • Three million sold? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by weave (48069) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:28AM (#6113602) Journal
    Article says more than three million sold. That's down from the previous one million a week in the first two weeks. I wonder how far demand has dropped off.

    Mac fans tend to go rabid with new stuff, then slack off on the demand, at least with new hardware introductions. I wonder how much they are selling per day now...

    • by FosterKanig (645454) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:16AM (#6113811)
      It was over 1 mil in the first week.
      They reached 2 mil in 16 days.
      They reached 3 mil in 4 weeks.
      At this rate they will be selling only 1 song a week by the end of the year. And this means...

      (everybody say it with me)
      Beleagured Apple is going out of business!!!
    • by MikeMo (521697)
      This is true, three million sold in the first month. It must be noted, however, that Apple had their "wildest dreams" pegged at one million in the first month. Demand may have dropped off from that first two weeks, but it is still far in excess of what they hoped for.
  • Trust (Score:4, Interesting)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:32AM (#6113613)
    The amusing part is that for some unknown reason we "trust" Apple more than probably any other company to make this work. Heck, I havn't owned an Apple since the 80's and for some reason I just trust that Apple will do the right thing.
    • Re:Trust (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:10AM (#6114539)
      The amusing part is that for some unknown reason we "trust" Apple more than probably any other company to make this work. Heck, I havn't owned an Apple since the 80's and for some reason I just trust that Apple will do the right thing.

      Not so hard to understand, really. Humans, believe it or not, are inherently trusting. We tend not to doubt unless there's been repeated infractions against us.

      In contrast to, say... Microsoft (heh)... all Apple has to do to retain goodwill is not be utter bastards all the time. MS actually sets the bar pretty low in this regard.

      On a personal note you've touched on the reason I always give people who ask Why Mac?.... because, much of the time, I get the distinct impression that Apple is one of the few compaies that tries. Even debacles like the Cube, I give 'em points for trying new things.

      • Re:Trust (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lord_Dweomer (648696)
        "In contrast to, say... Microsoft (heh)... all Apple has to do to retain goodwill is not be utter bastards all the time. MS actually sets the bar pretty low in this regard."

        However, be wary. I like pretty much everybody else on slashdot is cheering for Apple for actually managing to do something incredibly right in an age where everything else seems so incredibly wrong.

        But it is imporant to realize that Apple is still a company, and a publicly held one at that. While it's nice to think that Apple and Ste

  • by shiva600 (323459)
    Sounds very promising - I just hope they can figure out a deal which pleases all the parties involved.
    As the Sub Pop guy mentioned in the article, they don't know about compensation yet, so basically it's all up in the air still.

    I wonder how many people are working within the "iTMS-Department" - dealing and negotiating with all the smaller record labels, possibly including different deals on a per-band-basis, is certainly no small task.

    Anyway, great to see such aggressive moves towards extending their cat
  • by zero_offset (200586) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:34AM (#6113622) Homepage
    Not all the good music is on small or indie labels. A very substantial majority of all the music is still owned by the big labels and is still not available anywhere. Putting that stuff online would probably make bigger waves than going after "Wisconson Pete's Record Hut" label.
  • by Baumi (148744) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:35AM (#6113630) Homepage
    If iTunes sales for small labels are going too well, they might abandon eMusic, which would be a shame, since I like it better to d/l as many mp3s as I like for $10/month than paying $.99 per DRM-protected track. (Yes, Apple's DRM is pretty much acceptable, but no DRM is even better, and if you're downloading a substantial number of tracks each month, $10/month is better than $.99 per track.)
  • by [cx] (181186) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:44AM (#6113672)
    Who will know the names of the indy bands to go and search for them to find them?

    People need to hear it before they like it and likewise buy it. So unless apple offers some kind of deal where you can listen to it for free once or something how can people tell if these bands are good or not?

    You sure wont hear them on the radio.

    Word of mouth, a small caption on a website and a guitar, you're on your way to a rock and roll career.

    I honestly dont think this will change 80% of the users downloading things they have heard on the radio or seen on TV. But I am glad they are opening the doors for ALL musicians to have equal rights, atleast somewhere in the music industry.

    [cx]
    • Maybe this is the secret of the tie-in with Amazon that's been rumoured.

      Imagine you browse the iTMS, and you look at famous bands X, Y and Z... Then you can get a frame/tab/whatever saying 'people who liked them, also liked ABC Band, a new Indie group from Hicksville...' which is what Amazon already do. They have a HUGE database of people's tastes!

      THAT would be good... And with a 30sec preview, you'd be willing to risk $0.99 on it.
      Or maybe the 'smaller' bands get less cash from Apple, so they sell at $0.7
      • by KFury (19522) * on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:03AM (#6114056) Homepage
        Speaking of huge databases of user preferences, iTunes knows every mp3 track you have, and even knows how much you like them, if you've gone through the trouble of rating them. It's only a matter of time before Apple, the company that licensed Amazon's One Click patent, enhances iTunes to use this user data to suggest music you might like, be it indie or mainstream.
  • by klang (27062) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:45AM (#6113673)
    Next thing we'll see is probably "unsigned artists" in the music store. The first step for Apple to become a record label, or?
  • by jabbadabbadoo (599681) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:47AM (#6113685)
    ...we'll have something called iIndies.
  • It IS a race (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chia_monkey (593501) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:54AM (#6113715) Journal
    The Apple spokesman said it right with there is no timetable yet for when the songs could be added. "It's quality over quantity at this point,"

    How many times have we seen Microsoft scramble to put up just ANY product that mimicks Apple or any other company, no matter how shoddy it was, and then use their deep pockets and name to further advance it. Windows 3.1 was hideous but they had to put SOMETHING out there against Apple and then keep revising it until it got better and people thought it was actually a good, innovative product. Same with the WinCE-powered handhelds. Palm was doing fine (ok, it was a portable OS going against Palm's organizing OS, but stick with me here) and then MS introduced WinCE which wasn't that hot either but after a few revisions it's turning out to be ok. Microsoft simply doesn't want to be left out and they're racing ahead with AOL/Time Warner now to ensure that doesn't happen.

    Including indie labels is a brilliant move on Apple's part. Just think of the demographic of most Mac buyers anyway. Slightly creative, free-thinking, willing to pay a bit more for quality. It's the Mac owner that knows who is on these indie labels already.

    And let's not forget Jobs and his pull in the entertainment industry. People there WANT to do business with him, from the artist level all the way up to managment. I just hope enough strategic alliances can be made so that a solid foundation can be built and not be torn away by a shoddy imitation with lots of money.
  • iTunes best sellers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by easyfrag (210329) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:01AM (#6113751)
    Does Apple or anyone else post iTunes' best selling tracks and albums on a website? I'm curious to see the difference between the music industry charts and what iTunes users buy. I know you can see it from within iTunes but I am not yet an Apple owner.
    • by Silverhammer (13644) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:46AM (#6113956)

      Blockquoth the poster:

      Does Apple or anyone else post iTunes' best selling tracks and albums on a website?

      Yes, both the top ten tracks and the top ten albums are listed on the iTMS "front page" (the page you go to when you select the iTMS in iTunes). As of this writing, they are:

      Top Ten Tracks:

      1. "Clocks" - Coldplay
      2. "One I Love" - Coldplay
      3. "Miss Independent" - Kelly Clarkson
      4. "Hole In The World" - The Eagles
      5. "Intuition" - Jewel
      6. "Get The Party Started" - Pink
      7. "Unwell (Live Acoustic)" - Matchbox Twenty
      8. "Crazy In Love" - Beyonce & Jay-Z
      9. "Calling All Angels" - Train
      10. "Lose Yourself" - Eminem

      Top Ten Albums:

      1. "0304" - Jewel
      2. "On And On" - Jack Johnson
      3. "One Quiet Night" - Pat Methany
      4. "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" - Coldplay
      5. "Birds Of Pray" - Live
      6. "Paper Monsters" - Dave Gahan
      7. "These Are The Vistas" - The Bad Plus
      8. "Greatest Hits" - The Doors
      9. "The Very Best Of Sting & The Police" - Sting & The Police
      10. "The Diva Series: Astrud Gilberto" - Astrud Gilberto

      Of course, North American Mac users make for a serious skewed sample group, but, well... you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Allow everyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@@@devinmoore...com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:26AM (#6113847) Homepage Journal
    The trick would be to provide content partnering with mp3.com, so that any fool with a computer and a guitar could stream off of iTunes and collect a royalty, including ME!
  • by Xthlc (20317) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:41AM (#6113930)
    I've been enjoying EMusic [emusic.com] for more than a year now -- dozens and dozens of indie labels put up albums and songs, for a flat rate of $21 / month, as non-DRM mp3s. I *love* this service -- it's helped me find a lot of new bands because it's subscription-based (and thus there's no risk when downloading a song by somebody new).

    Indie labels stand to make a lot more money off of Apple than they do EMusic -- and I imagine they'll flock to it. While I support this in principle, Apple's DRM, lack of try-before-you-buy, and (lets face it) expense really rubs me the wrong way.
    • by eDogg (647694)
      I don't know if it's a typo or what, but $21/ month for eMusic??? I'm paying $9.99 a month cuz I signed up for a year. Month to month is $15 or so. . . . Why $21?? Is there some pricing plan [emusic.com] that I'm missing?
  • by kilonad (157396) * on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:16AM (#6114139)
    As we all know, Apple currently has the largest online music store and they will be releasing a version of iTunes for Windows in the near future. We also know that Microsoft will be coming out with their own music store in the near future. It's not enough for Apple to get there first on Windows, or have the better store, or the better selection, or better rights management. Sheeple care fuckall about rights management (though this could make for a lovely wakeup call if handled improperly). Apple needs to get far ahead of Microsoft and stay there. In order to do this, yes, they need the better store, the wider selection, more freedom with the songs. But they need to make sure that Microsoft won't be selling songs for $0.49/each with a $5/mo fee or something. RealNetworks's new store will flop not because of the lack of rights, but because the price isn't low enough to counteract the lack of rights. So Apple needs Microsoft to screw up, or at least not abuse their monopoly power.

    The other thing Apple needs to do, and this is crucial, is to make iTunes on Windows NOT SUCK. Who here has QuickTime on Windows? Who hates it? Who would like it a heck of a lot better if it weren't so slow and buggy? Yep. Most of us. If iTunes for Windows isn't substantially better than QuickTime, and for that matter even Windows Media Player, Apple doesn't stand a chance in the long run.
  • Lulu.com (Score:4, Interesting)

    by firewort (180062) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:29AM (#6114762)

    So, Apple is going to get indie labels. Good for them. Matador and SubPop are relatively large anyway, and they don't do much to help the artist financially.

    emusic is fine and well, presuming you can bet they have enough music you'll like to justify a subscription. Most folks can't.

    Lulu.com [lulu.com] started by Bob Young formerly of RedHat [redhat.com] actually empowers the artist. The artist gets to decide what distribution format to sell in, set their own price, and set their own royalty. The artist also gets to decide if they want to use the Founder's Copyright [creativecommons.org] or any other license instead of traditional copyright.

    It's putting the artist back in control of their work, something Apple hasn't considered. Apple just does the same thing as Sam Goody's or Tower, only over the internet. Big deal. The only nice thing they've got with it is the iTunes integration.

  • by hpavc (129350) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:43AM (#6114901)
    apple should make an area of the store that is just bootlegs and live exclusives.

    they should make a project to relicense (or whatever the term would be) these materials if they were illegal in the first place with the artist and apple as a publisher.

    most people i know that want music off the web (eg, p2p) want stuff they cannot get else (rare)
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:45AM (#6114919) Homepage Journal
    I'm amazed at the tone of so many comments in this thread. Apple has the balls to go out and do something nobody else has been able to do with nearly as much success. Yet even as Apple adds more artists and focuses more attention on indie labels, people are predicting their demise.

    This fits the classic pattern of Apple prophesy: "Sure, the Apple product is great, but we know that sooner or later Microsoft (or someone else) will come out with something that's 75% as good. So why bother with the Apple version? Besides, how could Apple possibly make money on this. Poor Apple, they're doomed!"

    Every time Apple has tried something new, the prevailing sentiment has been, "that's wonderful, but it'll never keep Apple alive." Somehow they've managed to stay alive for quite a long time, and they've got a pretty loyal customer base. Maybe Apple management isn't so stupid after all.

  • Utilize the People (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slevin (67815) * on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:58AM (#6115039) Homepage
    I have been using iTMS and I am quite pleased with it, but there is more that they could do and *should* do. Ultimately, the huge and useful role that labels play is getting the music exposed to people. People don't want to pay the labels any money because they don't think that they are doing anything. This just isn't true. How am I supposed to know to buy a song unless I've heard it a couple of times. A huge amount of work and money goes into putting on concerts and radio play and store placement.

    1. When It comes down to it, a 30 second clip just isn't enough to sell me on a song. In the old model, one hit song could be the catalyst for selling a number of other good songs on the album (although it is often the case that one hit song sells a number of crappy ones). If this model becomes more popular, then each song will need to be marketed individually. That requires a lot of effort. Apple could help by providing radio stations based on it's catalog.

    2. I think it could really take advantage of other people providing some level of predistribution. I could certainly see myself going through web sites that provided editorial content that reflected my own personal tastes. If people could get a small bit of the cut for pointing me to good music, they would be more inclined to put some effort into it. (This is similar to what amazon does now, but I don't think that books lend themselves as well to this sort of activity).

    3. I don't think they should necessarily follow the Amazon system of rating things - which has devolved into pretty much a one or five star rating system that is mostly useless. I do like reading people's comments, though. Still, finding a central source for advice that I trust vs weeding out the person I trust from a list of unknowns is less than effective.

    4. It is still unclear to me how I get to keep this music going forward. I don't plan on buying another computer for another year, but what about then? How do I move it? I still use my linux box alot and can imagine there is a point where I will use it exclusively in the future. I still paid for the music, I want to take it with me.

    sean

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