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Getting iTune'd

A look at Apple computer's new music website.

by Dr. Spin
May 19, 2003

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Getting iTune'd_Dr. Spin-A look at Apple computer's new music website. Dear Dr. Spin,

All the lonely people: where do they all come from? And where do they all belong?

Sincerely, Melancholy Rocker

Dear Mel,

Normally, I would classify this as a Dear Jon question, but since you seem to be quoting “Eleanor Rigby,” I will answer it.

I do not know where all the lonely people come from, although your mother should know; perhaps they came in through the bathroom window. They belong at Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club; where they could listen to the band, maybe attend the benefit for Mr. Kite, board the Yellow Submarine (after they fix a hole where the rain gets in, with a little help from their friends), and sail to the Sea of Green. Once there (with their friends all aboard, and many more living next door), they could live happily in an Octopus’s Garden in the shade.

Or maybe they could take a day in a life to go on the Magical Mystery Tour, visit the Fool on the Hill, enjoy a Savory Truffle, and find out that Baby, you’re a rich man too, when all you need is love. They should probably not visit mean Mr. Mustard or Polythene Pam, nor run Helter Skelter, but they should see the Sun King who may introduce them to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (although they may need to look through a glass onion to see her). Happiness is not a warm gun, but if they want some fun, they should take O-blah-di-blah-dah.

Finally, let me say that tomorrow never knows, and, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. So why don’t we do it in the road?

* * *

On a more serious note (no pun intended), I would like to talk about the launch of iTunes Music Store. iTunes is a new music download site created by Steven Jobs of Apple computer fame.

In an article I wrote several months ago, but never submitted, I came up with a proposal to the “download dilemma,” that is, the problem “sharing” (or stealing, as recording companies see it) music through mp3 files and shareware programs, such as KaZaa. In my article, I proposed that recording companies make all their catalogs (every recording they own rights to that was ever commercially released) available online. Users could download up to 60 minutes worth of music for a fee of $16.00, and “burn” their own CD.

I proposed that it would be a win-win situation for company and consumer alike, as record companies would still be making $16.00 a CD (and they wouldn’t even have to manufacture the CD!), while fans would finally get “greatest hits” packages that (in the fans’ minds) would finally live up to its title. I also countered that a lot of fans would still want their favorite groups’ albums in tact, the way they remembered them, so artists and producers wouldn’t feel their work was “butchered.”

Now Steven Jobs has gotten the five biggest recording companies to provide such a service, via his iTunes. Currently it is only available to Mac users, though he plans to launch a PC version of the site in the near future. Jobs charges 99 cents a song and allows you to burn up to 15 songs a session. (I chose $16.00 for 60 minutes, because it seems unfair to pay 99 cents for a song, regardless if the song is under 3 minutes or over 10 minutes). Jobs knows that many people will still use shareware programs to get music for free, and pirating is a consequence of putting anything on the web, but he rightfully argues that most people are still willing to pay for quality downloads rather than take their chances with something that was “free.” So far, Jobs has been right, as iTunes had over a million songs downloaded within the first week of its inception; with many albums being downloaded in their entirety.

Kudos to Jobs for realizing the future of music and mp3 and having the foresight to not only create iTunes, but to get the major recording companies to go along with the idea.

My only question, Mr. Jobs, is, is it too late to ask for a cut?

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