Music Industry Misses Foot, Reloads

With the iTunes music store, Apple and Steve Jobs did for the music industry what they proved incapable of doing on their own, it gave them a future in the world of online digital media.

Now, to show that they’ve learned nothing, portions of the music industry are trying to force Apple to change their simple consumer-freindly pricing model.

Apple, Digital Music’s Angel, Earns Record Industry’s Scorn – New York Times
If he loses, the one-price model that iTunes has adopted – 99 cents to download any song – could be replaced with a more complex structure that prices songs by popularity. A hot new single, for example, could sell for $1.49, while a golden oldie could go for substantially less than 99 cents.

This is ridiculous on many fronts. For one thing, the music industry has long discounted whatever new music they are pushing in order to help build critical mass. Why do they think their “hot new thing” model, which is already showing signs of strain and wear, is going to hold up if they start jacking up the price on the new product they are trying to move?

In addition, jacking up the prices on popular music is just going to feed the free trading in music to which iTunes has provided the first and most successful alternative to.

Finally, this approach could actually hurt their revenue from more obscure items in the back catalog by cutting prices on tracks that might be hard to find on a filesharing service by discounting those tracks. Most of my iTunes purchases have been back-catalog tracks. More importantly, the latest and greatest actually makes up a pretty small proportion of the music people listen to. The top 100 songs on Rhapsody only acount for about 1% of the music its users play. Meanwhile 90% of the 1 million songs in their catalog are listened to at least once a month.

I guess I can content myself with the knowledge that the big record labels aren’t exactly united in their opinions on the matter and the hope that the more shortsighted among them are only hurrying themselves towards irrelevance.

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