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Summary:

Ted Wallingford has an interesting idea – Apple should turn iTunes into indyTunes. Now that the company CEO Steve Jobs has picked a fight thrown the gauntlet to with the music industry, challenging them to allow him to sell DRM-free music, Wallingford writes that Apple should […]

Ted Wallingford has an interesting idea – Apple should turn iTunes into indyTunes. Now that the company CEO Steve Jobs has picked a fight thrown the gauntlet to with the music industry, challenging them to allow him to sell DRM-free music, Wallingford writes that Apple should get independents to upload their music, form communities, and then share the profits with these indies.

Intriguing idea, but one wonders if it makes sense for Apple & Co. to start off just with the indie labels instead of all artists.

  1. the majors rule most of the market. iTunes would loose market share, and they’d have to lay-off people in the iTunes store.

    You, and many others may listen to indie music, thinking how much better it is; but the average joe, is still an idiot, and still listens to “Justin Timberlake”…i bet you even like, “I’m bringing sexy back.”

    that ain’t indie. The “Boards of Canada” are indie.

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  2. Om, Om, Om…you are SO right on the money but I’d go far beyond the indies and expand this “iTunes 2.0″ concept to embrace all the intellectual capital generators among us that aren’t getting GigaOM, PodTech, or PodShow type investments to build our own respective “channels” for our content.

    As a blogger with an infrequent podcast — though am really hot on the possibilities inherent in podcasting — I’ve continued to be pissed off at Apple for burying most podcasts. It’s the most God-awful taxonomy that makes it really hard to find MY podcast…let alone any others (other than the top 50 or 100 in each category).

    Right this moment I could point you to at least a dozen companies I interact with that would love to find a way to monetize their podcasting efforts via iTunes. Yes, there are many other schemes out there for building a channel or selling content, but the no-brainer, drop-dead-simple method for most people is to buy content in the same interface they use to manage their music.

    Would this sell more iPods? Ya think? These same dozen companies I mentioned have all asked me if they’d be able to buy dozens or hundreds of iPod Nano’s, for example, pre-populated with their content. There are probably legitimate methods of doing this, but I can’t find any. Instead, giving their customers a Nano and “exclusive” credits for only the content they provide on iTunes would certainly kickstart this delivery.

    Video too. Instead of Apple allowing Brightcove and the other 200+ video offerings to bypass iTunes video altogether, it could easily be THE way for content creators of visual media to monetize their stuff too.

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  3. Many indies already offered to do this with their music being DRM free, but Steve said no. Steve hasn’t really picked a fight with the labels. It just looks that way.

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  4. Apple is way behind on web 2.0 things. They could easily have been the better myspace choice, but so far have not even tried. Just imagine an iTunes store where you could listen to songs that bands have posted on their pages and then choose which ones to buy.

    I would love to be in charge of the .Mac and online groups of Apple… I really feel they are just falling behind more and more.

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  5. “Many indies already offered to do this with their music being DRM free, but Steve said no. Steve hasn’t really picked a fight with the labels. It just looks that way.”

    Jobs’ strategy is unfolding. It is an ongoing process. I think Indies are coming, but they WON’T be P2P, for security reasons. I’ll bet “vetted” indie.

    And, yes, Timberlake has less talent than a Gerbil. His finest moment was probably that “accidental” Janet Jackson thing, which was a rip-off (no pun intended) of the Mick Jagger / Tina Turner thing from– Farm Aid, was it?

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  6. Songbird the perfect example of a Web 2.0 music/video app that we’re talking about.

    It’s still a bit buggy but it is everything right now in it’s current incarnation that iTunes could be. And it works as a podcatcher as well.

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  7. tina,

    thanks for the comment. yes “picked a fight” was poor choice of words – changed it and made the emphasis, because like you, I kinda feel that Jobs is passing the buck on this one, and needs to do more than just post an essay on the web.

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  8. Kris

    I think you are spot on with songbird, but the trick is in distribution and mind share. i think apple has that. if only they would listen to you – thanks for reminding me of songbird again.

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  9. Sounds like the model behind Sellaband. I just blogged about them, what DRM-free content does for iTunes and their competitors, what happens when “fair use” and virtual worlds collide, and my latest theory on the perfect storm brewing behind DRM, iTunes, EMI & The Beatles.

    Check them out, I’d be interested in others’ takes on them all…

    http://globallistic.blogspot.com

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  10. I would kill for a Last.FM platform integrated right into iTunes. The ability to make your own radio station based on your listening habits, etc that people could listen to and have one click downloading from the store etc. A friends list where you could see what other people are listening to, get a 30 second preview of it by double clicking, one click purchasin etc. Recommendations, groups around genres/artists. The potential is huge.

    Im almost certain the Zune guys are working towards this.

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  11. Now that the Beatles (AppleCorps) thing is settled, I am betting that Apple is clear to do just what you are talking about. Before, probably not.

    Soon, there will be no big record companies. Who will need them. Just strike a deal with Apple (or any other music store) and share much bigger profits!

    The big companies need to put aside their arrogance and pride and face the train that is coming right at them.

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  12. steve actually wants to keep the DRM cause it locks customers in; he was anti-drm b/c the europeans are making laws telling him he has to license “fairplay”

    I think songbird is OK. I want to mix it with Tamago, but its stuck using XUL, and dependent on the develoment of Mozilla.

    The guys at the iTunes store are tired. They’ve been hiring and have been expanding at a rapid pace just to keep up with current demand; adding more bullshit, making them work harder, for no, or little gain, is probably not going to happen.

    and if you guys actually cared about independent music…you’d already know the cool places to get it…like Tamago. The thing is, and this is what Steve knows, is, everyone on this list, just wants their music for free. Thats why you guys are so enamored by youTube, shitty-free video.

    Another thing you guys don’t understand…indie is cool, ipod/itunes is not. If you have an ipod on, walking down the street, everyone knows you just another loser following bullshit trends and fads trying to be cool. Indie is about being indie, not about being part of a “pod”

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  13. I still think it’s funny that Steve Jobs is telling users to pressure the companies that own the labels to drop DRM – and I’m just waiting for the moment where people take him by his word and start calling up the board members of, say, Disney. Walt Disney Records published the most succesful US album of 2006, so that seems like a good point to start, right?

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  14. Lemon, what evidence do you have for saying Steve wants to keep DRM to lock customers in?

    I think iTunes was probably hamstrung by the contracts that it signed, namely the concept of the same deal (with DRM) for all comers. Now Steve’s angling to have no-DRM be the foundation, which was likely not allowed by the previous deals. Failing all labels being no-DRM, the best thing would be that Apple will not allow labels to veto having both DRM and non-DRM songs co-exist in the store.

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  15. @Janko Roettgers

    Steve Jobs wants to keep customers locked in to his music/entertainment ecosystem. If 90% of ALL digital music is sold through iTunes, and only can be played using an iPod, and (this is an important point) iPods bring in the revenue, why would you want non-DRM access…same reason why Apple killed clones, more stores, means the iTunes store becomes a money loser, eating into iPod profits.

    Steve’s anti-DRM stance is to get the Europeans off his back. The french are trying to pass a law forcing Apple to license Fairplay. He’s smart, and telling the French/Europeans that hey, “We wouldn’t need DRM if your SONY-BMG media companies didn’t force it.” So he wins. He throws it back in their face, the media company balk, and he gets to continue, locking YOU in; and I mean YOU, cause I know just by you asking for evidence, means you an Mac Fanboy, Jobs devotee.

    Otherwise, you’d understand the larger picture.

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  16. This Utopian site you speak of existed in 1999. It was called MP3.com.

    There shouldn’t be any reason that prevents Apple from giving indies the choice to have their music DRM free on iTunes. (Or, if there is one, we haven’t heard it yet).

    There is a long tail of indies on the service today. There’s no reason to make it an all-or-nothing deal one way or the other.

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  17. Lemon, I believe you meant to address Mark, not me …

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  18. Mr. Malik – I’d like to think something like this could be doable.

    HOWEVER!!!… Apple’s online application for for iTunes Producer (which I’ve filled out no less than three times tells me they’re not interested in indy content… and we were the FIRST CORPORATE PODCAST anywhere).

    We have roughly 100 hours of video right now with more to come. Happy to sell without DRM.

    So, if they’re that big of a twerp… to heck with em!

    Gerald Buckley
    Tulsa

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  19. Tom, good call on Mick Jagger and Tina Turner.

    Mick did tear Tina’s dress during Live Aid, on July 13, 1985:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0JRq8MN4zs

    She looks pretty surprised, eh?

    It is so amazing how YouTube is now the video version of “Google knows everything”

    peace
    F

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  20. This article forgot one thing, Indie music is music that doesn’t sell, that’s why its Indie and not on a major label. So if your BUSINESS is to sell things to the most amount of people, does it make sense to sign major labels or not?

    No don’t confuse “good” and not a major selling band. “Good” music is totally subjective.

    To follow this cool/uncool Indie vs Major labels a bit more…Just because Hey Jude is the most popular Beatles song, does that make it a bad song? Or is the Beatles least selling song their best one?

    I loved the comment from “Lemon Obrien”
    “Another thing you guys don’t understand…indie is cool, ipod/itunes is not.” Listening to bands not signed to major labels makes one “cool” and using a software program to organize those tunes makes you uncool? Listening to a private music player to listen to personal tunes with earphones in makes people uncool because the cords are white? I’m not sure I follow the analogy but…it sounds like someone is trying just a tad too hard to be “cool.”

    Oh The Boards of Canada albums are on iTunes by the way. Cool or uncool?

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  21. [...] one thing though, is very different from actually doing something. Om points to a great post by Ted Wallingford who suggests that Apple should turn iTunes into a [...]

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