Tag Archive: iTunes

Music on the mobile

I had a small slap in the face today in that it was 10 years ago I switched out of working for an ISP to working for a digital music company – PressPlay. That move was the right one but simply at the wrong time. Apple and the iPod was the true catalyst for digital music and after a rapid-fire decade, the next great switch onto the mobile platform is almost with us – especially if you’re outside the US.

To be working at a telecoms company at this moment in time is amazingly exciting. There’s a big wave coming and we’re about to start a ride that should be in equal part terrifying and wonderful.

Good little piece from FastCompany sums it up.


Foo Fighters – Arlandria live

Always a glorious treat …

ashTwo stories that have caught the eye this week in the music world.

Firstly, Ash’s plan to release a single every two weeks. I was lucky enough to do a live session with the band for AOL Music, and at the time they talked about embracing the potential of digital music and possibly abandoning the whole format of albums and instead release music as and when they felt it was finished. Maybe occasionally grouping the singles together as an ‘album’ but otherwise step out of the usual cycle of album, tour, rest, album, tour etc.

And, fair play to them, that’s exactly pretty much what they’re doing with an A-Z series of track releases, though with a sensible nod to the physical by issuing the singles as vinyl 7-inches as well. I hope other bands follow in these steps. It makes so much sense, and frees the band from the same old same old. I used to love when singles were events in their own right and then the whole thing got swamped by albums, which in turn became pointless and filled to the max 72 minutes just because it was there.

Cracking band Ash, and really top blokes to boot.

The second story is the reinvention (again) of Napster as the business now focuses on a lower rate subscription and streaming model. With more than 7 million tracks available, the $5 a month rate could well be the tipping point for the subscription model – well I’m sure they’re hoping that. However, at £3 a month for all the music you could listen to plus 5 downloads, it all comes down to the marketing and once again trying to crack the method of telling the story of subscriptions to the general public. As long as Napster sticks to saying what it is and not repeating their previous mistakes of comparing themselves to iTunes and trying to make a vague point about the cost of filling an iPod (it was stupid the first time so are Microsoft making the same mistake – oh wait, it’s Microsoft…), then surely with their brand, they can crack it this time?

I’m a big fan of music subscription but I was always pushed away by platform, DRM and price point, with those issues resolved, maybe music subscription’s time has come at last? Could be an interesting battle between the Spotify free+ads and downloads and the Napster sub+downloads models. Once again, the wheel has come full circle but no one’s really nailed it yet…

Talk TalkCiting Talk Talk’s Living In Another World as one of my all-time favourite tracks gives away my age but what the hell it still sounds so damn fine in every respect to my ears. One of the frustrations of the digital age of music, OK it’s still early days, has been that a lot of the extras tracks, remixes, 12-inch versions of singles and so on have taken forever to appear in legal versions. One of the ones that’s been on my list has been the 12-inch version of Living In Another World.

Sure, I still have the vinyl version, not worn out yet, and I could digitise it but one of the advantages for me as a consumer and for the music owners is that I can relive the thrill of buying it all over again. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case.

EMI, in its eternal wisdom has made the Remixed: Talk Talk available on iTunes – hurrah. The only rather sizable fly in the ointment is that only six of the 12 tracks (yes 50% of the album) can be bought individually and of course Living In Another World is not one of them. So, the original dilemma is back – digitise my own copy, find a pirate version or buy the whole album. Why am I pushed into that set of choices? We’re now living in the age of variable pricing, so if the six other tracks are perceived to be the draw and so more valuable why not price them that way and let me pick and choose.

Old thinking in the new world.

Just when you think the music labels are moving into the 20th century, you get a little reminder that large pockets of stupidity remain alive and well.

My decision? I bought the album but my perception of the label and industry, not the band, is tarnished (yet again) and my gut instinct was to go to the pirate sites, sticking the virtual two fingers up but I respect the artists involved. No wonder pirate sites will remain the bigger destinations. Dumb and Dumber…

First pass at iPass

dmodeThe new iPass, offered by Depeche Mode through the iTunes service, is a little shortsighted IMHO. I can see that should Depeche Mode offer the same service, as a white label version, to their fans through their own digital media presence, it would be a rave success. Bands like Mode have really dedicated fans who will want everything that the band decides to offer, even though it’s a leap of faith as you’re not really sure what you’re going to get. So that dedication coupled with the excellent iTunes service should be a great experience. And, there are many more bands, large and small, that would be perfect for a similar service.

What I think is missing is that pure white label solution. You hit DepecheMode.com and, though not heavily promoted, you’re redirected to iTunes. Fine if you’ve got iTunes installed but a poor experience if you don’t. What I’m surprised by is that after having stood still for quite some time, iTunes hasn’t evolved beyond its walled garden model. An integrated experience in the band’s web site would remove the pointless break in user experience and disconnect. Services that only offer white label solutions can’t match iTunes marketing muscle but iTunes is missing a trick that could open up a whole new tranche of business.

So, kudos for the marketing exercise iTunes but why not show a little ambition?

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