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If Itunes Was the Only Music Store In the World

Peter Toh Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Since Apple's Itunes and Ipod combination is the music biz's leader of digital music shopping, what would happen if they introduced label owned Ipods? They would be just like a membership card. Any label could buy a place in the Label-pod catalogue. A music fan could go into a store and buy an ipod pre-loaded with the whole entire current (current year) catalogue of that label or multiple labels. You can't remove the media from the ipod. You could view or listen to the media on the ipod through your TV and home stereo. Someone would still be there to hack or record the audio from the audio outputs into a computer to share the file, but the files pre-installed would have special features such as included linked video and communication with label through internet. It would also have update capabilities so that when connected to the web through the Itunes store the label could supply owners with new releases, bonus songs, album artwork etc. If you wanted to get another label on your ipod you would "activate" a membership to that label by attaching your ipod to computer or internet and paying the fee. The media would then be transfered directly to your ipod.

The labels could set their own prices for their catalogue, special features and upgrades. They could also give users the rest of their catalogue as it's released for the rest of the year and then offer a membership extension for the following year. You would also have access to all previous catalogue material for extra fees. A selling point could be something like "buy now and get your selection of any 8 previous artists free!" The illegally ripped versions would not give you Membership status like the ipod would. There are a lot of advantages to accompanying the music file with an electronic device. They can provide play count, other stats, and user trends back to the Record Label through the internet and wi-fi. It would be the new Soundscan. They can also be used as physical keys to enter member areas of websites granting access to more media or even physical goods at the local store like a credit card. A user could remain anonymous and the store or label can use the device to recognize registered members.

Maybe this method could also help create more valuable material by making it easier to develop artists. An artist could supply the label with it's own productions and the label could then "test" the project in the marketplace. The Label owned ipod could supply the new and/or established artist stats and then decide on future of that artist's relationship to the company or that artist's royalties. This could reduce marketing costs for labels and artists, because a label you would be cross promoting every artist on your roster every time you promote just one of them. Or if you promote the label containing all of them.

An artist could have creative control. As an artist you could make a video without your face in it and have all of your songs be 6 or 8 minutes long without having to market them singularly on traditional means like tv and radio, unless you wanted to. You could release a weekly ipod show if you wanted too. If the people don't like it, the label will know. Aren't there musicians out there who produce amazing results without being television friendly or even live friendly? Artists worthy of at least a job if not worldwide fame through publicity and the restraints of those methods? A song/video/show included with the catalogue and tracked to see if people like or dislike? An organic buzz for unknown artists could be attained easier. The Labels would know who is selling the most ipod real estate out of their roster and who is not being listened to at all.

A record label would have to market the whole label and therefore be forced to really consider the sound and identity of their artist roster. What as a company are we contributing to the music world? How can we gain loyalty from our fans? How can we increase the dollar value of our catalogue?

The actual stores would then have the responsibility to provide customers that do not own computers or have internet access the ability to shop for music. They would have to cut inventory and introduce ATM like kiosks that you could plug in and shop with. Also supply any other merchandise that the artists provide. Taking the member ipods and plugging them in like a swiping credit card to actually buy merchandise like clothing.

I think it's like the world ending. It might be up to the powers that be to say, "we're losing everything, you, you and you get in this boat that we built, let's find a new beginning because our home is dying, the stronger of you will row because we'll all sink if you don't."


Copyright 2010