Apple's iTunes Music Store looks amazing. I missed the big announcements today, but I finally got 10 minutes to download iTunes 4 and play with it tonight, and -- already -- the user experience has me smiling. And the selection is nothing to scoff at.
There was plenty of stuff I didn't find (The Walkmen; The Silos; and can someone explain to me how on Earth a search for "sloan" could yield Tommy Dorsey, Ann-Margret and 'Blessid Union of Souls'? Try it. Ugh.)
But there was also a hell of a lot that I did find that surprised me. All of Wilco's back-catalog. Alot of rap and hip-hop (with conveniently marked 'Clean' and 'Explicit' versions.) Some nice 'exclusives' (radio-stop takes from U2, f'r'instance.)
And yes, I realize that these anecdotal touchpoints are earning me no indie-street cred.
On a side note -- do a search for Rhett Miller. Then tell me he doesn't look like Kim Bauer's himbo-hunk karate-choppin' legless boyfriend from 24*.
Anyway, this is a fantastic service. I can't vouch for the business model, and only time and the market will tell if it'll succeed, but I can see myself buying music here. Much music.
Here're some areas where I think Apple stands to make a real niche killing, and where I personally hope they grow to next:
- Out-of-print titles: if someone could show me Bash & Pop's first one for ~$4, available now (with no flaky Amazon zShops sellers to deal with) the sale would be made. No questions asked. And that's not even a rare title. The majors have 40+ years worth of music, most of it gathering dust. It is not my original idea, nor is it a novel one, to suggest making this stuff available. When the fuck is someone finally gonna do it?
- Songs from commercials: They'll do this, undoubtedly. CDNow used to program a page where you could find out which band plays what song in 'that commercial -- you know. the one with the dancing old guy in a diaper.' This need meshes perfectly with the 99¢ price-range. And people love to discover new music this way. Show me who sings that Saturn song, play me a thirty-second sample to prove it, and - yeah - I'll give you a buck.
- Live Tracks, the morning after: Again, not an original idea. Pearl Jam's doing it, Phish did it, and Paul Westerberg should do it. So should a lot of artists. There are a lot of completists out there who will want it all. The rest of us would be content to have last night's show, the one we were at, as a momento.
I'm guessing there'll be a lot of commentary and speculation about this service in the coming days. From a quick initial pass, I can understand why.
* Here's that guy's site and, dude, if you yourself are personally responsible for that Flash intro and scrunched navigation, you deserve to lose that leg. Oh yeah - and that domain name. Hand over your hair, too. Yes. You must.