Tuesday, July 01, 2014     | Register
News from The Blog

Is Apple and iTunes Ruining Music?

Nov 1

Written by:
11/1/2012  RssIcon

As iTunes has replaced FM radio and other sources for listening for music, are we better off now or were we better off with Vinyl and CD’s?

When vinyl was king big labels signed artists for 3-5 record contracts and there were 10 to 12 songs per album. When CD’s came out, they were more expensive but were virtually indestructible (no warping and skipping) but artists felt compelled to fill up the CD with up to 20 songs to fill the whole 60 minutes. Were we better off? I traded in all of my vinyl for CD’s and moved on. It seemed like I was acquiring more sounds, they took up less space – but the colder and more precise sound of CD’s was a little different than the warmer sound of vinyl. There are always tradeoffs.

With digital music users started sharing. Unit sales dropped, artist royalties and record company revenues plummeted. Early web sites such as MP3.com allowed a grass roots approach to music where artists could post and advertise and set their own price points – without needing signing by the big labels. I moved all my music to my hard drive but still needed CD’s for the car.

I’ve noticed that pricing in the iTunes store seems to be slowly changing. All “albums” used to be about $9.99 but the prices for premium artists are creeping up. Simultaneously, it seems that there are now fewer songs for the same amount of money. Artists are on average may be making less money than they did in the past and have to tour more. Is all this creating new artists and more creativity? Every artist needs patrons.

I have my entire life’s music collection on my iPod. The convenience factor is more than amazing and the physical space it takes up is almost 0. But I can’t trade my tunes or sell them. I need a proprietary device to play everything. The device is proportionally more expensive than a transistor radio, record player, the 8-track, cassette player and portable CD player. Are we better off than we were before?

With iTunes match, your whole library can be available in the cloud – which if you think about it, increases Apple’s monopoly. Access to music is becoming as simple as accessing the power grid. For those of us that regard music as one of life’s essentials, where’s the regulatory agency that’s allowing us to consume as much music as we used to? As we continue to move more to just a few providers, how will this be reconciled?

And analytics – well, it used to be that Billboard compiled charts by getting sales statistics from a number of the major retailers. Old fashioned, a little primitive by today’s standards, sometimes manipulated, but generally reliable. I know because I managed record stores in my early career. Apple owns an incredibly rich set of proprietary analytics about what we listen to, when, how often and can influence us directly on what we should be buying. This helps to increase their monopoly position.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my iTunes experience and will continue to do so.

Now – step back, somehow shift to a non-profit theme and relate to the business of raising money and creating social change. As nonprofits we should look at iTunes type disruptions to “conventional” business models and really scrutinize the goods and services we buy.

What trends exist in the non-profit space that we need to watch? Where do we need to be advocates so we can raise more money? Are there vendors that have become monopoly providers?  Are they improving our ability to be innovative or are they causing inefficiency with poorly designed software or updates that never seem to happen? How are their licensing models structured? Do they have bona-fide user groups? Are they providing the reporting and analytics we need as part of the standard software package or are these expensive add-ons?

Is a non-profit struggling for donations any more likely than a collection of musicians to start a lobbying effort for improvements? Are you a public advocate for change where it needs to take place or are you silent?

When you work with your software vendor don’t be shy about asking. Make sure you let them know what you need. Network and work with your peer organizations and get them asking along with you.



What’s News on the Blog
News from The Blog
Copyright by SupportingAdvancement.Com   |  Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use