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Music Businesses Media Apple

iTunes Staffers Becomes Music's New Gatekeepers 79

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the are-you-the-keymaster dept.
WSJdpatton writes to mention The Wall Street Journal has a look at how Apple is shaking up the world of music retailing. "Apple -- now one of the largest sellers of music in the U.S. -- offers home-page placement in exchange for things such as exclusive access to new songs, special discount pricing or additional material such as interviews with stars. Most other big retailers, digital and physical, also seek exclusive offerings, but Apple is especially aggressive and has outsize clout when it comes to the slightly out-of-mainstream music it often emphasizes."
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iTunes Staffers Becomes Music's New Gatekeepers

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  • Wow... News. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shoolz (752000) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @04:37AM (#18298272) Homepage
    50 bucks to the first person who is actually and genuinely surprised by this.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2007 @04:47AM (#18298294)
      I'm actually and genuinely surprised, I'll be contacting you shortly about my $50. :D
      • by roseblood (631824)
        This should come as a suprise too. Apple isn't just the biggest music seller on the net, it's also responsible for the majority of podcast subscriptions too. This has been mentioned and bitched about many a time by various podcast personalities. The consensus is that the iTunes store is more (or less) an iPod music store and many people only stumble upon podcasts when browsing though the iTunes store. The assumption among the majority of these browsers is that podcasts are for iPods only, because of the POD
        • Maybe they shouldn't have started calling them podcasts to be trendy and continued with some combination of the terms internet radio and talkshow like people have been using for decades? I know I used to crontab a bash script to record the weekly Hackermind shoutcast, really no different than 'podcasts' only without being trendy and hip.

    • i'll take that 50.. (well actually im lying, this is not news to me either).

      not to bash on apple, but maybe now that its not one of those "big X" (x keeps shrinking) hollywood estblishments with the entire industrialized world in their pockets, we might see action on this at the legislative level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hennell (1005107)
      I'm fairly surprised to be honest. I hadn't really thought about it before (Don't use iTunes so it passed me by) but if you'd have asked me I would have assumed that it worked on a 'similar music' style thing. If iTunes looked at what you've bought, finds people with similar taste and suggests bands you might like, bands/record companies would be advertising mostly to the intrested; saving everybody's time.

      Although I suppose I'm hardly shocked they'd do it this way. The music business isn't exactly known fo
      • by Graff (532189)
        The iTunes Store also has a section called "Just For You" which makes recommendations based on stuff you've purchased in the past but it's just a part of what is presented to you. They give you a pretty eclectic selection when you first open up the iTunes Store and then you can get more specific with genre and such. If you go to a band or a song they will also show you what other people who have bought that item are buying. This is great because there's a greater chance the reference will show you someth
    • 50 bucks to the first person who is actually and genuinely surprised by this.

      Truth is, we should all be a little surprised by this. It was only a couple weeks ago that the big question was, "why doesn't apple want to sell the non-mainstream artists who don't want DRM on their music?" Only to see this line now:

      Apple is especially aggressive and has outsize clout when it comes to the slightly out-of-mainstream music it often emphasizes."

      Certainly the question and that statement aren't exactly the same thing (being that one relates to DRM and the other doesn't), but the relationship beckons some question as to who Apple cares to court. There's nothing unusual about who they want exclusives from or who they

      • by Golias (176380)
        It was only a couple weeks ago that the big question was, "why doesn't apple want to sell the non-mainstream artists who don't want DRM on their music?"

        That was never a big question. They don't want to sell non-mainstream artists because nobody wants to buy it.

        If people did buy it, it wouldn't be "non-mainstream" anymore, because whatever gets sold is what the mainstream is. Duh.

        I think it's hilarious that people want to consider "music nobody buys" to be a genre, let alone a genre that makes good busine
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @04:49AM (#18298300) Journal
    In the United States, it's not illegal to be a monopoly. But, once a monopoly, what was once a competitive advantage becomes criminal conduct.

    As a business owner, I'll leverage every advantage I can to the detriment of my competitors, including (but not limited to) absorbing the losses in one marketplace in order to ensure the profits in another, and utilizing my commercial strength in an area to negotiate an advantageous relationship with other vendors.

    But in the United States, once you've become a "monopoly", many things that were once expected become criminal actions.

    Apple can (and should) leverage their dominance in the music distribution scene to their advantage. As a publicly traded company, it's their fiduciary responsibility to make as money as they can figure out how to do. But if the dominance of the Apple juggernaut continues for much longer, they'll be branded a "monopoly", and then things get pretty complicated pretty fast.

    No, I don't think they are a monopoly. (I just bought a Creative Zen to replace my dead iPod, and I'm much happier with the result) But their dominance is... dominating.

    Apple needs to tread a bit carefully, methinks.
    • by ereshiere (945922)
      With the Bush DOJ that ended the Microsoft case (against a convicted abusive monopoly!) in charge for two more years, what are the chances that they'll go after iTunes, which virtually everyone likes, opened the door for legal digital music distribution, and is compatible with the most sought-after status-symbol gadget in over a decade?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bigdavesmith (928732)
        While I don't disagree with you, since the example of Microsoft which you cited is obviously the government working against the people, I wouldn't be surprised to see them actually go after a company "which virtually everyone likes", particularly if some of the other companies put more of their money in Washington.

        Still, I don't see iTunes being a monopoly, ever. There are simply too many other places to get music. The alternatives [song-list.net] might not be as good, but that doesn't make it a monopoly.
    • by jetxee (940811)
      I believe it is not that bad if Apple is gaining more influence in the Entertainment market. Today they may be able to get special and exclusive offers. Tomorrow they might use their influence to promote DRM-free content. Finally, Apple being a big player makes position of the mafIAA weaker. Not bad after all, as it threatens old distribution channels.
    • monopoly? hmm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EtherAlchemist (789180) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @05:23AM (#18298406)

      I don't think they're a monopoly and couldn't become one in this space without purchasing or controlling the labels themselves. Additionally they would need to control every outlet for all of that music, not just online.

      Apple isn't the first company with an online music store and they have no exclusive deal with any of the labels. Their dominance is self-reinforcing because iTunes is the only way to manage music on your iPod. Maybe that's the monopolistic part you're talking about?

      How many iTunes but no iPod customers does Apple have? Likely few. Why? Because there are other ways to buy music. There are other ways to manage your music. There are other ways to listen to your music.

      Competition in this space is healthy (although the Ahype around iTunes would have you believe otherwise) and there are enough competitors to offer consumers a choice in how they purchase (or not purchase but stil legally consume) music online. Even if you look at device + music store/library manager Apple isn't alone in this space. Napster has a device. Real partnered with SanDisk late last year and released the Sansa Rhapsody which works with the Rhapsody client software. You can consume that music service through other 3rd party devices like Sonos and Squeezebox. I don't think you can do that with iTunes because they keep the content locked to their devices.

      So, I don't know. Yeah, they're popular with iPod users, but iTunes just isn't compelling enough to take over enough of the market by itself to be a monopoly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Their dominance is self-reinforcing because iTunes is the only way to manage music on your iPod.
        I use a program called gtkpod to manage my iPod. I understand that amaroK works as well.
      • Re:monopoly? hmm.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drix (4602) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @03:37PM (#18301272) Homepage
        For the record iTunes is not the only way to manage music on your iPod. On Windows, I find WinAmp to be a much better choice. The iPod support in the latest version works perfectly, fully supports all of the features like podcasts, smart playlists, etc., and is much faster than iTunes. The iTunes client on Windows is slow, bloated and sucky. (50mb for a browser and mp3 player? C'mon.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by troll -1 (956834)
      In the United States, it's not illegal to be a monopoly. But, once a monopoly, what was once a competitive advantage becomes criminal conduct.

      I thought being a monopoly in the US was illegal under the Sherman [wikipedia.org] and Clayton [wikipedia.org] antitrust acts.

      Microsoft was found guilty of acting as a monopoly [usdoj.gov] in 2002 after being sued by 20 US State Attorneys General. You might think the punishment didn't go far enough, but that's different from a monopoly not being illegal.
      • by Andy_R (114137) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @06:48AM (#18298614) Homepage Journal
        No, it's abusing a monopoly that is illegal. From the Sherman act article you point to: 'According to Senator George Hoar, an author of the bill, any company which "got the whole business because nobody could do it as well as he could" would not be in violation of the act."'

        If it was illegal to simply be a monopoly, then that would give rise to all sorts of absurd situations. Apple would have to bribe other buinesses to set up rivals to iTunes, nobody could make anything patented (because a patent is a monopoly) and if there were 5 widget makers in the country, and 4 went bust the other one would automatically become a criminal!
    • by drix (4602)
      I think even Apple's dominance might be a lot more fleeting than people think, at least as far as iTunes as concerned. (iPods are another story, those are far and away the best on the market, but almost all anti-trust prosecutions these days have to do with IP or services, not goods.) Despite being big, old and clunky, the Big 5 record companies still wield enormous power in the form of rights to nearly all recorded music in the 20th century, and a still significant portion of what is being produced today.
  • This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arclight17 (812976) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @04:59AM (#18298340)
    This isn't news. This is a standard business practice.
    You give me something I want (exclusive offerings), I give you something you want (placement and money).

    News Flash: Google provides links to sites who pay for prime placement. Scandalous footage at 11!
    • "offers home-page placement in exchange for things such as exclusive access to new songs, special discount pricing or additional material such as interviews with stars. "

      They're just doing the same thing WallyWorld does.

  • Come on now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EtherAlchemist (789180) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @05:02AM (#18298346)

    It's not like the majority of music purchases in the US or abroad is happening through iTunes or even users of iTunes. Do the editorial staff have an impact? Yes- within iTunes.

    Look, if they had that much "power" over what act becomes the next big thing, they (along with the other music services) would be getting more love from the labels, but that's not the case.

    Radio, videos, word of mouth- these are all still more powerful than the iTunes ed staff. I'm sure they'll love the ego boost, though.

    • Word of mouth no doubt. I think that's Apple's biggest advantage. Their ads are still garbage imo.
  • Whenever a recording artist signs on to a label, aren't exclusivity agreements pretty normal? I'd think that an artist abandoning their producing company during a release would result in some form of legal action. So iTunes is being more aggresive. There is only so much premier content space available on the iTunes homepage, while there are a lot of artists. Perhaps there's room for a few more players in the arena.
  • The bigger challenge for Apple is not how to milk a few rich artists the most, but how to rejuvenate and renew music for the long term.

    How will Apple help us to find good new artists worth listening to?

    • by Golias (176380)
      I found far more new music worth listening to by browsing iMixes and following "Users who bought this also bought" links on iTunes than I ever did via the radio.
  • by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @06:03AM (#18298490) Homepage Journal
    I used to work in a high end audio store back in da day and somewhat had "an ear". After college, I couldn't afford a high end system, but recently I'm starting to have enough cash to drop more $$ on speakers. I distinctly heard on 15 year old speakers just how crappy iTunes music is compared to store bought. Up to that point, I was thinking of ripping the remaining couple hundred CDs (not yet converted) and chucking them....but now I'm reconsidering.

    Today, just before leaving work, I got to listen to some new Sunfire speakers (Bob Carver company) that got overnight air'ed for the Electronic Home trade show in Orlando this week... lets just say that even though I'd lost my ear long ago...this reminded me of just how good music could sound.

    Anyway, long story longer...I know online is giving stores a run...but I think as long as there's people dropping $10k on speakers (the cost of the system I heard today for JUST speakers...double or triple it to include everything else), I don't think CDs are going anywhere.

    I'm probably wrong but that's my opinion.

    Here's a list of what I was listening to: Processor [sunfire.com]
    2700 watt Subs (2!!) [sunfire.com]
    2,800 Watt Amp [sunfire.com]
    Speakers (not the same, but similar to these) [sunfire.com] **DISCLAIMER** The company I work for owns Sunfire...

    • by sessamoid (165542) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @06:11AM (#18298516)
      Anyway, long story longer...I know online is giving stores a run...but I think as long as there's people dropping $10k on speakers (the cost of the system I heard today for JUST speakers...double or triple it to include everything else), I don't think CDs are going anywhere.

      Hah! Replace "CDs" with "vinyl", and this is exactly what audiophiles were saying before CDs were around. Here's a hint. Audiophiles have absolutely no effect on what direction the consumer electronics and music industries take.

      The proportion of people that can tell 128 kbit AAC from CD audio is pretty small. The subset of those who have the equipment and environment to discern that difference is smaller yet. The subset of those who give enough of a shit to change their buying patterns is really, really miniscule.

      • A good pair of headphones are probably enough to let you hear the difference. Perhaps that excludes the iPod ear buds. (I don't know -- never tried an iPod.) I have a pair of big headphones and i occasionally listen to music on my Powerbook when i'm at a cafe with annoying music or conversation. I have a few iTunes tunes on my playlist, and i've heard a small subset of those on CDs. I'm not an audiophile at all, but even i have noticed that the iTunes versions don't sound that good compared to CDs.
        • by toQDuj (806112)
          I doubt you're bringing an HD600 to a cafe.. I have that one, a Denon DA convertor and headphone amps, and I cannot hear any artefacts in the iTunes album "Are we there yet?" from Sara K.

          Now perhaps it's related to the quality of recording, rather than the quality of the compression. After all, it's useless to spend millions on hi-fi equipment if the music was recorded in a trailer..

          Cheers,

          B.
          • by Firehed (942385)
            Unlike picture and video compression, compressing music doesn't create artifacts. You don't get random skipping and freakish portions that are horrendously off-key, you just get flatter-sounding music; you lose your lower lows and your higher highs.

            Of course, if you're using really pricey DA converters and top-notch speakers, you probably know that. Maybe you just chose the wrong word.

            In any case, iTunes sounds fine as it is. It's when you compare it to the CD (or vinyl, or live performance) of the same
            • by toQDuj (806112)
              I must say, I've only ripped in iTunes to AAC at 200+ kbit sampling rates, so I didn't really notice an effect.
              With MP3, I can hear a sort of "aquarium"-effect in the higher frequencies, so those are the artefacts I was mentioning.

              I wonder if anyone has some measurements available on the compression of the frequency range when ripping, and whether those really show a big difference in the auditive region.

              Thanks for your level answer though. Usually, I only get huffy responses of people with damaged toes :)

              B
      • For the kind of music I listen to on an MP3 player through earbuds (hint, this doesn't include Bach or Phillip Glass) I can't tell whether I'm hearing it at full CD quality or 128k MP3, and it's hard to even be sure with vinyl or cassette. Even when I do a comparison, I can't always tell a difference. Music that you dance to or listen to in a bar or at the beach can't depend on low noise and high fidelity... and most of it's got high levels of distortion even in the CD (or vinyl, bad recording levels is an
    • by ereshiere (945922) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @06:30AM (#18298562)
      Sure, audiophile speakers are better for playing music in a reference room, but what about people who just use the same boring white earbuds that come with iPods? When people play music in the background (exercising, mowing the lawn, whatever), what difference does 128k AAC make as long as they can hear that catchy guitar riff? By the way, you can rip CDs to the Apple Lossless format in iTunes; 128k AAC is only for the iTMS-bought stuff.
      • They day I have an AAC track on my computer, is the day I die. -V2 --vbr-new all the way baby!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by garcia (6573)
        I know that most people don't realize, at this point, that having the physical media is an advantage. Wait till iTunes has been the primary purchasing point for people at around the time when hardware failure starts to take a toll.

        When these people lose their entire music collection and have no way to restore it, then we'll see what they think about their past choices.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by FutureDomain (1073116)
          Although having the original CDs does have advantages (conversion to other formats without losing a ton of quality, being compatible with older CD players, as evidence to the RIAA lawyers that you legally purchased the music on your computer), hardware failure won't be an issue as long as you back up the tracks and any licenses on a CD, DVD, or portable memory key. And if you don't back up your computer, your music will most likely be the least of your worries. If I was to use similar logic, I wouldn't have
          • by tomhudson (43916)

            "hardware failure won't be an issue as long as you back up the tracks and any licenses on a CD, DVD, or portable memory key."

            You must be new here.

            "Only wimps use tape backup: real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it."
            -- Linus B. Torvalds

        • I know that most people don't realize, at this point, that having the physical media is an advantage. Wait till iTunes has been the primary purchasing point for people at around the time when hardware failure starts to take a toll.

          When these people lose their entire music collection and have no way to restore it, then we'll see what they think about their past choices.

          ""In the event that a customers entire music library is lost, the iTunes Music Store does re-grant the purchases history. Please keep in mind

          • by toddestan (632714)
            "In the event that a customers entire music library is lost, the iTunes Music Store does re-grant the purchases history. Please keep in mind that Apple does not offer protection against the loss of purchases, so this is a one-time exception."

            So it could very well happen, all it takes is two "failures".

            Besides, this seems to be some kind of unofficial policy by Apple. They could stop doing this tomorrow and there isn't anything you can do about it.
    • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @06:40AM (#18298586)

      I distinctly heard on 15 year old speakers just how crappy iTunes music is compared to store bought. Up to that point, I was thinking of ripping the remaining couple hundred CDs (not yet converted) and chucking them....but now I'm reconsidering.


      What does the quality of music on iTMS have to do with ripping your own CDs?

      PS There aren't enough people dropping 10k on speakers to stop iTMS selling low-quality music, it's probably 1% of the audiophile market, and 0.0001% of the music-buying market. You seem to equate iTMS with 'online music' here - there are plenty of online stores who offer better quality, some even offer FLAC and let you choose how much you pay. Quality is not really an issue now for most people, and long term it will be a simple matter to increase the quality (iTMS has already done it once for videos), probably to well beyond the quality you get from CDs.

      Some day all media will be consumed and sold this way (including TV); let's just hope they drop trying to impose DRM along the way, as that's the only downside to digital distribution of media, and the only reason I don't use the iTMS yet.
    • Anyway, long story longer

      Summary:

      For people who use their Hi-Fi/iPod/whatever to listen to music, 128kbps AAC is probably okay, for people who user their music to listen to their Hi-Fi it certainly isn't!

      Me, I mainly buy CDs now just because I like to have them on show on the shelf. Heck, half the time I come to changing the CDs in the car changer I burn them from my iTunes library, especially if there is something specific I want to put in there.

    • First, this post is basically an advertisement. Duly disregarded as such.

      Second, young enough (or who went to few enough The Who concerts, space shuttle launches, etc) to still have an appreciable hearing range over 20kHz can hear the difference between AAC and CD or between CD and 192ksample 48bit digital, whatever. It's just a matter of knowing what to listen for (a sizzle ride in a jazz trio exposes almost everything, it's a good place to start). I hear the differences easily, but... I don't care. I'
      • The industry I'm in, though, is built around the people who spend $50k-$150k on home theater. You're right, they wouldn't spend it on just a stereo...unless they were also buying the $10k 50+ inch plasma and all the things that a custom home integrator would suggest.

        Me? I make a modest amount (lets say I took a 25% pay cut getting out of telecom). After typing my original post, I've heard a new line of speakers a "sister company" (Sunfire, a Bob Carver company) is coming out with and for the first time

  • Let us hope that we don't trade one evil (RIAA) for another.
  • This article says that apple are the new gatekeepers, but more importantly it says that apple does good things with its powers! Instead of taking cash to promote a CD, they only offer promotion in return for "exclusives" and discounts, therefore improving the end-user experience. What's more important however is that they promote independent artists! From the article:

    "Groups like Gnarls Barkley have enjoyed significant boosts from iTunes. Last year, the alternative-soul duo's "Crazy" became the first so
    • by garcia (6573)
      Does anyone honestly think that The Shins would be so popular without iTune's help?

      Wow. It's not like The Shins didn't get first rate exposure in Garden State [imdb.com]. It's not like they are experiencing great radio play on just about every alternative radio station.

      Just because iTunes plays them doesn't mean it's their only avenue to success. Perhaps Wincing the Night Away was their most "mainstream" album (it was IMHO as it sucks compared to their others).
      • Yeah, but it's got a nice little ode to Pam Berry, who was in a number of great bands during the 90s (Black Tambourine, Glo-Worm, Belmondo, The Shapiros, The Seashell Sea, and The Castaway Stones, not to mention her work on the Chickfactor zine with Gail O'Hara). But yeah, otherwise the album's generally 'meh'...
    • by allgood2 (226994) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:24AM (#18299236)

      I was suspicious of this article. Apple's statement on DRM annoyed me to no end. Indie bands often plead with iTunes to remove DRM, and Apple refuses. It stands to reason Apple LOVES DRM, otherwise they would implement an opt-out system for DRM for indie artists. However despite the fact that apple is creating a monopoly in this area, they are actually doing good things with it in promoting indie bands!
      I really can't stand when people ignore the facts and make statements like, "Apple Loves DRM". There maybe individuals at Apple who like it (though I doubt that many), but history proves that Steve Jobs and Apple were against DRM long before they were required to introduce FairPlay.

      It took over three years of negotiations with the major record labels for Apple to get them to agree to any sort of contract, and when the iTunes Music Store was introduced, Steve Jobs gave a number of fairly candid interviews of how he had to (1) convince the major labels that music could be sold digitally, (2) how he loss the argument on no DRM, but won massive concessions on insuring that consumer 'fair use' rights weren't decimated by the major labels, when it came to what control the labels wanted DRM to provide, (3) how he also won major concessions on pricing, but loss some control over contracting issues, and (4) how his goal to insure that the major record labels and independent labels all expect the same treatment contract wise, was somewhat lessened by the aforementioned pricing and 'fair play' wars. [Independent Labels got a good contract, but its not equal with the Big 5, as was originally pushed for, and this was a direct power push by the Major labels, since they couldn't control product placement]

      This was a 3 year battle, as opposed to those outfits who rushed out the gate after Apple introduced iTMS. Remember BuyMusic. It died quickly and horribly, but I can't say it wasn't a deserving death. To be the first to introduce purchasing downloads for the major labels to Windows users, [in case you forgot, Apple originally won all those concessions and spent three years in contract and business meeting just to get a trial run on the Macintosh platform], BuyMusic conceded to tier pricing, purchased placement of artists, super restrict and adjustable DRM on song files (some songs could be shared on multiple computers (2 to 5 depending on the label and artist), some could not, some songs couldn't be purchased as singles at all, new releases prices occasionally went as high as $1.79 with no copy, no portability restrictions in place.

      I say, spending more than 3 years arguing, cajoling, and gaining concessions for consumer rights, when so many others were so willing to trample all over them, just to gain access to the major record labels collections, is ample argument that Steve Jobs and Apple has always seen DRM as a deterrent to where their vision of digital media will be in the future. That said, I think Apple was very pleased with their DRM, with all the latitudes it allowed, despite what the majors wanted. There is a reason why it's called, "FairPlay". The name is like a slap in the face reminder to the majors that consumers have rights as well; and Apple will do its best to protect them.

      Unfortunately, I think Apple felt the sting of their own DRM and negotiated concessions, far more rapidly than they anticipated. So even the glow of their freshly minted FairPlay didn't generate illusions of DRM's not so bad for too long. Less you forget, when facing contract negotiations for extending FairPlay to Windows, and renewing contracts with the majors, Apple had to limit 'Rendezvous', add reductions to the number of times a play list could be burned, and make other concessions to the Major Labels; all because their contract indicated that if FairPlay was cracked and not fixed in a specific timeframe, the majors had some say in what they consider reparations.
      • by Afecks (899057)
        I say, spending more than 3 years arguing, cajoling, and gaining concessions for consumer rights, when so many others were so willing to trample all over them, just to gain access to the major record labels collections, is ample argument that Steve Jobs and Apple has always seen DRM as a deterrent to where their vision of digital media will be in the future.

        Then why does Apple slap DRM even on indie artists without labels that require DRM?

        I'll tell you why. Because it would cost more to make the chan
        • by Bemopolis (698691)
          Look, I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but avoiding adding complexity to the iTS is a reasonable argument against this. Now, for those independent labels (or artists) REALLY wanted to drop DRM on their tracks I have a simple suggestion: trade purchased DRMed tracks sent in by buyers for identical non-DRMed tracks. The purchasing account is easily verifiable in the tracks themselves, and any additional expense can be justified by not having to set up a separate store (or, hell, charge a penny extra per
          • by Swift2001 (874553)
            Good idea. Indies? Anybody want to go ahead with that idea? Or do you just want to fulfill a role as a rhetorical device in somebody's anti-Apple tirade?
      • by Have Blue (616)
        Less you forget, when facing contract negotiations for extending FairPlay to Windows, and renewing contracts with the majors, Apple had to limit 'Rendezvous', add reductions to the number of times a play list could be burned, and make other concessions to the Major Labels

        The streaming limit was added because people were using iTunes as a P2P program and the playlist reduction happened at the same time as an increase in the number of simultaneously authorized computers, so neither of these represents the
      • by toddestan (632714)
        I really can't stand when people ignore the facts and make statements like, "Apple Loves DRM". There maybe individuals at Apple who like it (though I doubt that many), but history proves that Steve Jobs and Apple were against DRM long before they were required to introduce FairPlay.

        Indie labels and pleading with Apple to be able to sell music and being denied by Apple is a fact. Sure, it flies in the fact of what Steve Jobs likes to say. You may like to pay attention to what he says, but others pay more a
    • by STrinity (723872)

      Does anyone honestly think that The Shins would be so popular without iTune's help? They are a great (semi) indie band, and iTunes promotes LOTS of indie bands.


      And in ten years, some young punk band will do a song called, "Do You Remember Indie Rock iTunes?" about how Apple has homogenized the indie music market until it all sounds like The Shins.
    • by that_xmas (707449)
      Didn't Slashdot link to this article describing Apple's DRM system already? [roughlydrafted.com]
      The Fairplay system/iTunes/iPod are all intertwined. You can't take off DRM from the indy bands songs without losing track of the song purchase from the iTunes store.
    • apple does good things with its powers! Instead of taking cash to promote a CD, they only offer promotion in return for "exclusives" and discounts

      This is similar to how Walmart delivers such good "value" - it demands discounts from suppliers desperate to get products on its shelf. In many cases, these discounts mean that a supplier is actually selling some items to Walmart at below cost. So how to maintain margins? Increase prices to other retailers. Effectively, Walmart is obtaining a cash subsidy from the
  • ..They just swooped in, spat out some kickass gear, put up itunes, and showed those music exec morons how to do it properly. BAM!
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:11AM (#18298720) Homepage

    The amount of stuff being produced these days for a consumer would easily overwhelm a consumer with even above-average patience and attention span. This is true in not just music, but in many other sectors/industries (cars, home electronics are other examples).

    So, somebody needs to be the "gatekeepers" — we are happy to employ them to avoid missing on the good new stuff while not spending all our time weeding out the bad new stuff. The question is only, who should that be.

    In medicines, which we deemed to be too important, we have FDA [fda.gov] — a government agency. In everything else there are competing outlets, some of them commercial (think CNet [cnet.com]), some not (think Consumer Reports [consumerreports.org]).

    The following is a simple truism, but it is needed to counter the article's implicit disapproval: Apple got there, because consumers of music like the work, Apple's experts are doing.

    Maybe, it is the dissatisfaction with radio jockeys (think "Payola" [wikipedia.org]), or with MTV, who, presumably, are losing their music gatekeeping role to Apple — I don't know. But should Apple become thought of as abusive of its position, people will switch to others — competition, as is often said, is only a click away.

    • The problem with human gatekeepers is that they invariably succumb to human failings. Look at things like awards shows, art museums, radio stations, etc.. They are ostensibly gate keepers, but we know the reality of how their choices are made. My feeling is that a ranking and categorization system would better help me find music that I like. There are sites that do this, but none at the size of the iTunes behemoth. Don't get me wrong, I buy music quite often from iTunes, but have been trying places like CDB
      • I get 50% of my music from CDBaby, but don't fool yourself, they "gatekeep" too. In addition to basic quality standards, they have recommended lists, top seller lists, and "mood" lists. Plus, every CD has a custom, "If you liked this..." list.

        Every CD can also have user reviews. Most of the ones I get have a half-dozen or more positive reviews, but I may get ones that have no reviews if it was recommended by CDBaby. CDs with songs that have been in movies or tv shows, usually have a gazillion reviews--
    • by NekSnappa (803141)

      I buy from iTMS once or twice a month, but they don't act as gate keepers for me. When I go to the iTunes music store I already know what I'm there to purchase. I find most of my new music through either word of mouth, XM, or internet radio.

      I was actually surprised after reading the article. This past Tuesday Son Volt released their new album 'The Search', there is a Deluxe Edition with an additional 8 songs, that is available only from iTMS. Since it was promoted in the New Music Tuesday email, when I wen

  • In Capitalist West music corporations complain about Apple controlling access to you.
    In Soviet Russia KGB listen to Apple music with you.
  • Gatekeeping mass taste may make the big bucks for Apple, but it has changed (for me, anyway) one part of the experience of using an Apple machine.

    Opening the iTunes store now means being shopped and pitched, advertised and shlepped loudly for mediocre TV, movies and music. What started in low-key mode a couple of years ago is now a major exercise in bad taste, a Wal-Martified borough of bad.

    No, thanks: if I wanted the latest Disney or Top 40 stuff, there are SUVs and McDonalds and box stores and TV remote

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