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iTune$ Makes Cents

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.

Comments (5)

You didn't touch on the visual and UI changes to iTunes. I was really disapointed that Apple has introduced yet more unique, non-standard, UI widgets to iTunes. The back, play/pause next buttons sport a new flat look which are unique to the OS, they have the texture being used in Safari/iPhoto buttons, but not the rounded corners of those, instead they are a circle.

Nor do the buttons at the bottom of the window match the ones used elsewhere. They apear to look like the buttons in an iChat chat session, but iTunes ads shadows and highlights to make the buttons appear recessed. These, unlike iChat show state: when they are on in iTunes they glow blue, an improvement that I wish they would put into iChat (is bold on or off?) And I just don't like the new non-aqua volume slider at all.

Why does Apple even provide their Interface Builder tools? They doen't use their own widgets.

Ah, Jamison. You optimistic stickler for details. :-)

I have to admit that I kinda noticed that something was going on with the look of the buttons, but -- because it didn't seem to change the way that things operate -- I didn' t pay it too much heed.

I don't care for that volume slider either, though...

So did you ever buy anything from it or what?


I am a cheap bastard, alright?

Okay -- I did it. Tonight I bought Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head, and the experience continued to be a good one.

When I got home from work, the wife mentioned that she wanted to buy that particular title. 10 minutes later, I'm searching on iTunes. 8 minutes after that, all tracks downloaded. Another 4 minutes and the CD is burned. She's downstairs listening to it on our stereo within 30 minutes of mentioning it to me.

$10.98, no S/H. (Okay, no jewel-box or liner notes, and I have to add the blank CD myself.) But all in all, a fair price (well, 'fair' when you consider what a normal CD would cost -- if you're one of those who doesn't believe that normal CD prices are fair, then there's still some room for argument in this scheme too.)

The burned CD sounds great, too.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 29, 2003 12:12 AM.

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