Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Saturday, August 06, 2005 3:29 am
Trouble in the House of iTunes
Here in Australia we do not have an Apple iTunes Music Store—even though one has been impending for several months now. Several “possible music events” have come and gone. At one time, the badge showing the Australian flag was found on the Apple site, and someone in Australia managed to nab a few songs before whole thing was shut down again. Now, we hear that the iTMS has opened in Japan with two-tier pricing. And rumours abound of price increases of iTMS songs.

I gather all this is because someone at some music company wants to ensure proper compensation for allowing access to their precious music intellectual property. This is very understandable. From Apple’s point of view: it is in Apple’s interest to sell as many songs as possible from the iTMS—after all each song sold represents further lock into the FairPlay Digital Rights Management (hence iPod blah blah…)—and therefore Apple wants songs available as cheaply as possible.

The point-of-view from the music companies is more complicated—more likely profit-maximisation from each sale is key.

It is possible their view is that iPod owners are also locked out of any competing iTMS-wannabees. (i.e., Yahoo!, Napster etc). And since there are lots and lots of iPod owners out there—this number is increasing—there is an expanding captive audience for the iTMS, who in turn would tolerate higher prices. After all, the cost of legal digital downloads is (usually) considered to be underpriced compared to the cost of music on compact discs.

Who knows? I’m not familiar with the inner workings of the music industry. My view is that there will be those who will definitely buy CDs and not from the iTMS. The iTMS’s main competition however, is illegal music downloads which continue to be widely practiced. So far the combination of music company/lawyers/Apple/everyone else has been unable to put that genie back into the bottle. The mind boggles at whether it is at all possible to prevent music from being freely exchanged via electronic means.

And further to that, is the fact that good music is also increasingly freely available via other means. e.g. free legal downloads (e.g. direct from artists, or from Pod Safe Music Network), free Internet radio streaming. Podcasts represents an increasing amount of available free content. Don’t forget also, the traditional radio stations. And then there are portable video and portable videogames…

The fact is that there is only a finite amount of time in a day, and people generally only listen to one thing at a time. So any time I’m listening to something else… is time that I don’t have to listen to music. Music companies will need to take that into account, lest they overprice themselves out of the market.

[posted with ecto]

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