iTunes iSbogus
August 26, 2003 4:17 PM   Subscribe

"iTunes iSbogus, just a shiny new facade for the ugly, exploitative system that has managed music for the past 50 years." says Downhill Battle's parody of Apple's web site. [via MacNN]
posted by kirkaracha (32 comments total)
Uhm, if the artists want 100% of the profits then the artists should take care to not sign contracts with record companies?

posted by xmutex at 4:33 PM on August 26, 2003

I hope one day people realize that parodying the "Apple style" (i.e. endless switch parodies) is more hackneyed than a Michael Jackson joke. That is a far more serious crime.
posted by Stan Chin at 4:48 PM on August 26, 2003

Silly thing is they have a link to Soulseek, a program that does not work on a Mac as far as I know.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 4:53 PM on August 26, 2003

Using the image of Janie Porche in vain is also a crime in itself.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:55 PM on August 26, 2003

razzle, there is in fact an osx client; check;
posted by 11235813 at 4:57 PM on August 26, 2003

Executive summary: The good is the enemy of the perfect.
posted by mcwetboy at 5:22 PM on August 26, 2003

So because an artist signs a recording contract, and Apple works with the artist's official agent, Apple then becomes the bad guy?

I'll just file this under more, "people keep saying that information should be free, not understanding the concept of the competitive market."
posted by benjh at 5:30 PM on August 26, 2003

Good gravy. I've heard better crackpot arguments out of Sean Hannity...
posted by spilon at 6:03 PM on August 26, 2003

*show up at Britney's tanning salon*

Um, hey, Brit, I once downloaded "I'm a Slave 4 U", and I just happened to buy a frappucino, so here's some pocket change.

*amble off, only dimly aware of the onslaught of police headed my way*
posted by solistrato at 6:16 PM on August 26, 2003

11235813: Thanks, now I too can fight the power!
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 6:31 PM on August 26, 2003

They seem to think that Apple's 35 cent cut from each song is ridiculous. Let's take a look at the overhead of other methods of payment:
Paypal: 33 cents plus 2.9% (more than Apple's cut)
Mailing a check: 37 cents postage plus the cost of the check, getting the address of the musician, etc (more than Apple's cut)
Visa/Amex: don't know the exact numbers, but it is definitely not cost effective for 99 cent transactions (probably comparable to Apple's cut)

Also consider that Apple is working with independent labels to get many more bands listed than will ever be heard on the radio, and providing massive amounts of bandwidth for previewing all of these songs.

You just can't please some people. And the thought of a system where people voluntarily seek out the artists so that they can pay their fair share for songs that they have downloaded is just hilarious.
posted by sreilly at 6:42 PM on August 26, 2003

Do any of you self-righteous bastards realize how many children ODB has to feed?
posted by yerfatma at 7:00 PM on August 26, 2003

I stopped reading this as soon as I encountered this line:
Apple takes a 35% cut from every song and every album sold, a huge amount considering how little they have to do.
They should at least do a little research. I'm sure running the iTunes infrastructure isn't free. 30 of that 35% probably pays for their expenses, assuming they're not operating at a loss like most online enterprises...
posted by mmoncur at 7:00 PM on August 26, 2003

Razzle Bathbone, pySoulseek can reportedly be made to work on OSX (see the sourceforge page, or better yet, the page linked from the FAQ). The one time I did try to build it on OSX (an old iBook), however, I had no luck getting it to run (had much better luck on FreeBSD).
posted by rxrfrx at 7:24 PM on August 26, 2003

I just want to commend everyone for not allowing the comment thread to degenerate into an Apple bash.

I use iTunes, I don't use the store. I buy my CD's, rip them, put them on my iPod and have a nice day.

Do you think the artist's are getting a higher percentage of the cut from the record companies?
posted by fenriq at 7:25 PM on August 26, 2003

Ok let me see if i understand the complaint here. The artist screw themselves by signing deal with the RIAA and apple is somehow to blame?
posted by MrLint at 8:17 PM on August 26, 2003

posted by alms at 8:24 PM on August 26, 2003

What do you Downhill bashers think would be a fair cut for the artists? 8-11% seems pretty paltry to me.

I anticipate a future where a new breed of labels, created by artist collectives, sell mp3s direct from their site and take, say, 25% for running the studios and administering the site. To date, there are some small offerings, but I think it's going to have to get bigger to become profitable.

As for this spoof site, I think it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Downhill hasn't lit any candles, so they ought to put some money where their mouth is.
posted by squirrel at 8:25 PM on August 26, 2003

If the artist owns their own record label, they can currently get 65% from Apple. That sounds pretty good to me. Of course, they have to pay for their own marketing. Becoming a star is neither cheap nor guaranteed.
posted by kindall at 8:39 PM on August 26, 2003

I don't have the numbers in front of me to make an educated opinion about how much money Apple should or should not be making from the iTunes music store. However, bandwidth and a massive hosting system is not free.

And I don't have the numbers, per artist contract (as every contract is different), to say what the artist's actual cut on those tracks sold are.

And it was pretty clear to me that Downhill didn't have those numbers either.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a not a fan of today's music business. Is their business model antiquated and needs a major rethinking? Yes. Is the RIAA evil? Probably.

However, the artists sign contracts with music labels because the music labels are DISTRIBUTION systems. Apple's iTunes music store in another distribution system. One of the points that Downhill makes is for independents. Downhill failed to present a compelling argument why independent labels (and artists) not to sign up.

If anything it seems to me that the independents are getting the exact same deal as everyone else. What the iTunes music store does is offer a convenient, user-friendly and legal way for fans to get the music they want. While I think the DRM needs to be rethought (or outright done away with), the ITMS seems to be a step in the right direction for the current moment.
posted by nakedelf at 8:43 PM on August 26, 2003

posted by alms at 11:24 PM EST on August 26

posted by zztzed at 8:47 PM on August 26, 2003

Does this mean Apple is the new Microsoft?
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:42 PM on August 26, 2003

What mcwetboy said makes sense. Whether he meant it ironically or not, who knows. But as a market dominator in this particular niche, Apple passed up a chance to make a big difference.

And, alms, music distribution is bigger than Apple.
posted by squirrel at 9:52 PM on August 26, 2003

People sure love their Apple.... I thought the site presented a cogent argument with style and wit, explained the problems it sees with the system (mainly the RIAA, not Apple), and offered a clear alternative: use the medium to its fullest possibilites, and cut out the middleman. Sounds great to me.

But in here it's all bellyaching about them linking to the wrong software or something.
posted by muckster at 11:45 PM on August 26, 2003

Muckster, the complaints on the linked site are ludicrous. If an independent artist wants to distribute music via iTunes they can, now, courtesy of companies like CDBaby, The Orchard and IOD. CDBaby takes a 9% cut on top of Apple's cut, but the deal artists get is otherwise the same as major labels get. So with no significant capital outlay, a band can get their music distributed on iTunes. They don't have to sign up with a credit card company, pay for bandwidth, a web host, web design, shopping cart/ database design, or if they're really lazy marketing either. iTunes might not be the Celestial Jukebox but it's a damn sight better than the legal services we've seen thus far.

Major label artists have made a conscious decision to give up their rights, and large percentages of their future income, in exchange for the muscle of a big record company and usually a very large upfront payment. Contractually they would not be able to give up these rights to deal direct with iTunes, and the labels won't be in a hurry to give up their assets and allow bands to do this. Even acts with large followings who do use the Net effectively, such as Phish, still choose to stay with a label. That is their decision.

Apple didn't pass up the chance to make a big difference - it is offering sensible terms to both independents and majors and balancing the needs of both in the interests of its customers.
posted by skylar at 12:11 AM on August 27, 2003

My point earlier was that people holding out for perfection under utopian conditions (unlimited legal free downloads with voluntary direct payments to artists) frequently refuse to see the merit in something that is about as good as you're going to get in real life and probably better than anything else out there (iTunes).

They also tend to be binary: either it's exactly their idea of how things should be, or it's corrupt and evil. I also get that impression from GPL advocates who frown on any licence choice other than the GPL.

There are a lot of purists out there (when it comes to somebody else's IP, that is).
posted by mcwetboy at 5:03 AM on August 27, 2003

Downhill failed to present a compelling argument why independent labels (and artists) not to sign up.

Exactly, because artists need a distribution system. Otherwise, it's the equivalent of playing on the street for donations (which Downhill seems to think is a perfect solution).

So why isn't Downhill starting their own new, fair and free distribution system on the Internet for anyone who doesn't want to sign RIAA contracts? Oh right, that would actually require some insight, money and ability.

Downhill's agenda is not pro-artist, it's just anti-RIAA. It's immature revolutionary thought, like thinking that tearing down the "unfair government" is great but have no idea how to run water or electricity or welfare programs once that system has been toppled.
posted by teradome at 6:47 AM on August 27, 2003

Until bands stop signing to major labels...
Until consumers refuse to line the pockets of a bloated industry...
Until the industry ceases to gouge, collude, and price fix...
Until listeners realize their money is supporting and sustaining the machinations of a corrupt and profitable industry...
Until the artists have full control and 100% of profits...
Until a paradigmatic shift occurs...
Until an alternative exists...
posted by shoepal at 7:09 AM on August 27, 2003

Even if bands start their own labels or someone comes out with a new fair way of running the industry, people will still find ways of blaming others to justify NOT PAYING for their music collections.
posted by bk at 7:41 AM on August 27, 2003

There was an article recently in the Wall Street Journal about famous/popular artists going with independant labels, or starting their own. Included in the article were The Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, and Natalie Merchant. Bozz Skaggs is apparently recording an album of jazz standards, and is going to release it on Jimmy Buffett's label. What major label would release that? The reasons they give for doing this are that they make more money per recording, and they have more artistic freedom. Richard Thompson mentioned in the article that in the old days a record company would spend some money promoting you if you were a small act, but now they spend their money on the big acts like Brittney Spears, so any advantage with being on a big label is pretty much gone. Now with iTunes the distribution advantage is disapearing as well. I am hoping this is part of the evolution of a more direct way to get music from the artist.
posted by Eekacat at 8:10 AM on August 27, 2003

(Wow, this post sure brought a lot of low-number lurkers out of the woodwork.)
posted by me3dia at 8:26 AM on August 27, 2003

Disingenuous. From their proposed 'better' alternative:

* Bands sign-up with Apple, but put mp3s on their own website
* Songs download directly from the bands' website.

... jeopardizing reliability right off the bat while losing accountability and efficiencies gained through centralization/scale.

* Songs cost 50 cents, albums cost 3 dollars, previews are free.
* Like ebay, Apple takes a 3% commission for connecting the buyer and seller.
* Musicians keep the rest: 3 times what they now get from iTunes or a CD.

Hrm. And 48¢ per song to the artist will pay for their server and hosting costs and make them rich, rich, RICH!

Like has been stated earlier in the thread, indies (or non-label artists) signing on to Apple's service as-is can get approx 50-65¢/99¢ song while incurring no support costs. Sucks, eh?

* The listener pays half, the band’s take triples

Now THAT's money momentum!
posted by mazola at 10:36 AM on August 27, 2003

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