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iTMS Moving Up The Sales Charts

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the lots-of-lost-fans dept.

Businesses 185

Kyusaku Natsume writes "According to the NPD Group, Apple's iTunes Music Store has sold more music than Tower Records and Borders in the U.S., based on sales and download figures for July, August, and September." From the article: "At seventh equal in the chart was iTunes, up seven places on the same period last year. Both Tower Records and Borders slipped a place to seven and nine respectively. Russ Crupnick, music and movies industry analyst for NPD, said he would not be surprised if iTunes was to continue to climb the charts, especially in the run-up to Christmas when iPods are high on many present lists."

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Chipmunks (4, Informative)

aedan (196243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118019)

Well my kids enjoy the Chipmunks I got last week and I couldn't find it in a normal shop.

aedan

Re:Chipmunks (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118218)

Hooray for Apple!

I wonder how much time it will take until Apple makes enough profit so Steve "The Rim" Jobs can afford a thoroughly lifting of his ugly dickface.

Is it early in the morning everywhere? (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118596)

Another first post modded redundant?

Note to mods: either increase the dose of whatever you're taking or quit doing drugs entirely. This is embarrasing!

Toppling Towers and crumbling Borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118022)

Can they hit the Target next?

Re:Toppling Towers and crumbling Borders (1)

Wisgary (799898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119006)

Or tumble the wal-mart!

Good news (5, Interesting)

xfletch (623022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118034)

But the reason I don't buy music there is that if I am spending that much cash, I want to own something more concrete. What if my computer is lost, or the data corrupted? With a CD I can always re-rip, but with just the MP3 file it would be gone forever...

Why not have a system where once I own a song, I own it in perpetuity, and can download it again whenever I want?

I wonder when the first lawsuit over consumer rights and ownership of 'lost' music files will be?

Re:Good news (4, Insightful)

Rxke (644923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118065)

What if your CD is lost, or scratched? You expect to get a shiny new one at the store you bought it from?

Re:Good news (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118080)

An expense is incurred in reproducing a physical object. Not so in duplicating a downloadable MP3.

Re:Good news (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118133)

I'm sorry, but bandwidth may not be expensive, but it's not free either. It may be cheaper than furnishing a physical copy, but there is still a cost assosiated with each song download that they have to pay with the not-so-large portion of each 99c that they receive. Allowing customers to re-download missing files simply would not pay off in the end.

Re:Good news (3, Interesting)

xfletch (623022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118157)

Allowing customers to re-download missing files simply would not pay off in the end.

That is quite a bold statement. Perhaps the promise of permanent ownership and free future downloads would further increase consumer confidence in ITMS and significantly increase sales. Bandwidth costs would be easily offset against further sales, and with bandwidth becoming cheaper the long term costs of future downloads will become increasingly insignificant. Alternatively Apple could make a small charge for bandwidth costs. Either way I stand by the free future downloads concept.

Re:Good news (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118202)

Bandwidth costs would be easily offset against further sales

That is also quite a bold statement, given that you have no data for the likely number of repeat (no-cost) downloads. If the number is high enough, then no number of extra sales will cover it.

(Note that I'm not saying that that's *likely*, just that it's *possible*)

Re:Good news (1)

3770 (560838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118799)


I think it would be a great idea if you could re-download your songs and I would pay for it.

1 cent is a good deal for me, and 1 cent will cover the network cost for iTunes.

I think the problems aren't of a technical nature. I rather think that the RIAA has objections and concerns of abuse.

Re:Good news (2, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118451)

Re-downloads are, to be perfectly honest, a negligable cost. I pay my 79p (UK), download the track, and it stays on my hard-disk until something catastrophic happens (My HDD falls over or my system is stolen, for example). I may re-download it once or twice a year.

Napster does a good job of this. Purchases are stored centrally, and can be re-downloaded to any one of my three authorised machines. The major draw of Napster seems to be that the music is in fact streaming unless specifically downloaded, and the application is very closely tied with the service. A while back they increased the bitrate of all streams and downloaded files, and the application updated everything for me.

If iTunes offered that, maybe with an 'all you can eat' subscription (Again, Napster has one) then it would become an ideal music store for me. I don't give a damn about DRM to stop me copying the file, as long as I can get hold of my music anywhere.

Re:Good news (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118551)

I pay my 79p (UK), download the track, and it stays on my hard-disk until something catastrophic happens (My HDD falls over or my system is stolen, for example). I may re-download it once or twice a year.

Man, if you're losing or destroying your hardware once or twice a year, you should really be backing up everything (not to mention being more careful with your system), not just depending on being able to re-download some purchased music files.

Re:Good news (1)

xfletch (623022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118084)

What if your CD is lost, or scratched? You expect to get a shiny new one at the store you bought it from?

Of course not, that is why ripping CD's is so useful. But neither would I expect to be prosecuted for burning songs ripped from a now defunct CD.

Re:Good news (4, Interesting)

Rxke (644923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118127)

Sorry, I should have been more elaborate... I ment also to point out you could duplicate your mp3's to CD's, DVD's or another disk, but as you point out, it isn't always that straightforward either legally or technically (DRM) which is *not* a good evolution. It's *still* possible, though. But it's a slippery slope. interesting years ahead, will music become more 'free' or will we be chased like villains more and more? BTW, I never considered buying mp3s, as on iTunes, I can't imagine to pay for a DRMmed file that's not very high quality, to boot. I'm a typical headphones listener, and even through crappy A/Ds you hear a serious difference...

Re:Good news (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118419)

You've obviously never sampled iTunes offerings. I am an almost exclusive headphone user. Pretty much all of the 128-192k MP3s floating around various sites and networks are next to crap, definitely not worth paying money for. iTunes uses high-quality AAC, not MP3. While I will never claim the AACs to be indistinguishable from a CD or DVD-Audio (someone will always be able to pick out something, given enough time), they definitively cannot be described as "low-quality".

Re:Good news (1)

Rxke (644923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118447)

Well.... i listened to the 'preview samples' on iTunes, and they sounded... strange, esp complex, 'noisy' stuff, like soundscapes etc. I asked around, and apparently these are the same quality as the 'full' versions, but I'm still not certain about that. i don't think i've got particularly good hearing, after all i'm 35, and spent some years in a band (louder! What? LOUDER! Ah....)but still, music I know quite inimately (like stuff I used to listen to again and again and... since the mid 80's, sounds different enough to distract me.... I'd never had noticed it with new music, after all, it does sound ok, but heavy compression like this is still doing some weird, (although admittedly subtle) stuff with original material....

Re:Good news (2, Interesting)

NuGeo (824600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119321)

I don't know why, but sometimes the preview samples sound absolutely horrid... like they were recompressed again and again to half the bitrate. I thought the previews were supposed to sound exactly the same as the full song, so as you can imagine there were songs I decided not to purchase because of how poor they sounded from the preview. Then one day I decided to buy one of those songs with an artifact filled preview just to end my curiosity and see if the song really sounded that bad.

It didn't. The full purchased song had CD quality. I even compared it back to back with the preview from the store and the difference in quality was as clear as night and day.

I suppose Apple does this to conserve bandwidth. Or maybe it's just an honest mistake. Either way, they lose sales because of it.

Appropriate Hardware (5, Interesting)

MisterSquid (231834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118445)

I can't imagine to pay for a DRMmed file that's not very high quality, to boot. I'm a typical headphones listener, and even through crappy A/Ds you hear a serious difference...

I'm enough of an audiophile that the high range tinniness in mp3s bugs me but not enough of one to know what "crappy A/Ds" are. I also agree that it's a bit of lump to pay money for a low-quality AAC/mp3. Sometimes when I get turned on to a new act, I preview on iTunes and then order from half.com. In fact, that's pretty much what I do for eighty to ninety percent of my music.

However, I have purchased maybe forty songs from iTMS and have received from friends maybe several hundred 128 kbps AACs/mp3s, and I notice a gigantic difference when I listen to those files on a pair of regular speakers/headphones and when I listen to those files using a pair of <BRANDNAME> in-ear canal phones.

For example, I have a pair of Sennheisers and listening to low-quality files on them is an awful experience. I also have a pair mid-range floor speakers and listening to low-quality audio files on them practically makes my ears bleed. But the <BRANDNAME> canal-phones provide a very different experience. I'm afraid to say "good," but that's pretty much what listening to AAC and mp3 files using those canal-phones is like. Even tracks with a wide dynamic range (yeah, I'm a child of the 70s) sound really good.

I guess this a long way of saying that the hardware you use to play low-quality music files makes all the difference in the world. Playing cheap tracks on high-quality hardware not optimized for compressed music just plain sucks. On the other hand, paying a bit of a premium for appropriate hardware might surprise your ears. I'm glad I received my canal-phones as a gift since they run about a quarter of the price of a new iPod (the high-end ones cost much more than even the top-of-the-line iPod), but that very unpretentious piece of hardware (black instead of mug-me-white cords) makes all the difference in the world.

Re:Appropriate Hardware (1)

Rxke (644923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118492)

Ack, that should of course have been D/A (digital to analog ) converters. And coincidentally, I use Sennheisers, heehee. Good point. Sooo.... After finding out that paying a bit more for a good pair of headphones in the mid-80's makes a huuuuge difference in listening experience, twenty years later I discover that paying a bit less might actually do the same.... *confused/amused grin*

Re:Good news (3, Informative)

Adelle (851961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118153)

Um, didn't Sony promise to replace all our damaged CDs as part of their case against a Playstation modder in Europe.

Part of their argument as to why there is no legitimate reason to play burnt CDs, was that the publisher will replace any CDs that get damaged, so there is no need to keep a back-up, (and therefore, no need to mod one's playstation to enable the use of such back-ups).

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118848)

Um, didn't Sony promise to replace all our damaged CDs as part of their case against a Playstation modder in Europe.

Link?

Re:Good news (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119016)

What if your CD is lost, or scratched? You expect to get a shiny new one at the store you bought it from?

Since I'm just buying a license to listen to the music, yes, I expect to be able to receive a replacement CD if it's scratched or even lost if I have proof I bought it.

Re:Good news (1)

gobbo (567674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118074)

Why not have a system where once I own a song, I own it in perpetuity, and can download it again whenever I want?

Hey, I agree with you, and the whole point of digital distribution is that this is entirely reasonable. But the market has momentum, including momentum in ideas, which means that music sellers just don't have to do this yet.

CUSTOMER: Man, my little brother used my favourite Vanilla Ice CD for target practice! Can I have another one? I already paid for it, before, like.
SALES GUY: (*WTF?!!*) Uh, sorry, uh, have a nice day, I mean, let me get the manager...

Re:Good news (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118128)

Actually I just reformatted my system not too long ago.

Sure my old library was there but it was drmed and grayed out. I tried to remerge and set myself as teh new owner of the ipod since I tried all options. Itunes deleted about $400 worth of music and wiped my whole collection clean. :-(

No I am not still bitter nor will I ever buy a drm based device again.

Re:Good news (1)

xfletch (623022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118141)

No I am not still bitter

Man, you are a better person than me. It is perhaps a little too late to point out a useful little app called ipod rip [thelittleappfactory.com] . I think this one costs - does anyone know is there a free equivalent?

Re:Good news (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118271)

Well a fucking warning of "hey dont do this. A new library will delete the old one and erase your shit rather than create one for a different user" would be more appropriate, rather than knowing about the problem after it is already too late. I think most replies here are just from abunch of smart asses

If the music collection was worth $800 or more I would certainly sue as much as I hate lawyers. No documentation is mentioned about a potential deletion even in the Itunes help section. Its drm and at its worst.

Why are my own music and computer devices acting like policemen and assuming I am a thief? It was all legit music and until drm is out I will recommend we all boycott such devices.

Re:Good news (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118673)

1. Creating new library doesn't delete files, just references to them and your playlists.

2. If by DRMed and greyed out you mean on your iPod and not lost and gone forever

3. Reformatting your computer is a complicated process. If you can't figure out the complicated process of restoring your iTunes library (iTunes never deletes files unless you tell it to), then you shouldn't have been able to get to that point to begin with.

Re:Good news (5, Insightful)

vought (160908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118145)

Sure my old library was there but it was drmed and grayed out. I tried to remerge and set myself as teh new owner of the ipod since I tried all options. Itunes deleted about $400 worth of music and wiped my whole collection clean. :-(

Here's an article [about.com] that details the several options on each platform for solving exactly the problem you found yourself with.

You could argue that Apple should provide a "Restore from iPod" provision in iTunes, or a low-cost "Redownload all my shit" option, but wouldn't have just been easier to Google the answer to your $400.00 problem or to back up your system in the first place?

Complaining on Slashdot is easier that using Google, I guess.

Re:Good news (1)

xfletch (623022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118165)

Complaining on Slashdot is easier that using Google, I guess.

Is that actually true?

Re:Good news (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118222)

Yes - if you use google, you might find an answer to your problem and so actually have no excuse not to do something about it. Complaining on slashdot needs no follow-up action.

Re:Good news (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118259)

Well its very nice to know that I could use google after the problem occured and not before.

Itunes only asked me if I want to be setup as another user and transfer music from a different library. No mention of a deletion or a warning.

Re:Good news (5, Informative)

jrockway (229604) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118282)

Something similar happened to me. I mailed Apple and they let me redownload anything (and added something to the effect of, "don't do this again").

Did you even think to e-mail Apple after they wiped out $400, or did you just make up the story and the whine on slashdot?

Re:Good news (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118294)

I was told by Itunes another library would be created. Not anything to the fact that the first one would be deleted afterwards.

This happened a few hours ago and I emailed them. I have some of my mp3's backed up but I have a ton and my backup solution can't handle all of them. Still its a pain and no I didn't make it up.

If I knew what it would do I certainly would of googled around and used a backup program like the other posters mentioned. Not whining but the first poster bitched about drm and losing music in case of a system failure and I mentioned this happened with me and its a very valid concern. If there were a drm free device I would use it.

Re:Good news (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118435)

$400 worth of iTunes would be about 2-2.5GB of data. If you have $400 to spend on iTunes, there's no excuse for not having sufficient storage to backup 2GB of paid downloads (well, except stupidity).

Re:Good news (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118575)

Dude, you're responding to Bill Gates. Of course he's going to make Apple the villain here. Also, it's pretty clear from this and his past rants/speeches/presentations that he doesn't have a clue how the average person uses their computer...

Oh no! (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118534)

Hey, can I solicit some advice from you?

I just sent my daughter a nano for Christmas, all loaded up her MP3s from her old computer.

If she plugs the iPod into her new computer Christmas morning, is she liable to erase all the songs on it? Any special instructions I should send her? (Other than: install the drivers before connecting ipod! :)

Thanks,
m/m

Re:Oh no! (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118734)

Yes. It'll warn her, but the wrong button on that dialog *will* wipe the iPod. Annoying, yes. The thing to do is to sneak the MP3s onto the new computer and put 'em on the 'pod from there. Sounds like its a little late in this case.

Re:Good news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118707)

Complaining on Slashdot is easier that using Google, I guess.


Well, he could have done an "Ask Slashdot" out of it.

Re:Good news (4, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118373)

>> Sure my old library was there but it was drmed and grayed out. I tried to remerge and set myself as teh new owner of the ipod since I tried all options. Itunes deleted about $400 worth of music and wiped my whole collection clean. :-(

Oh well, you should have asked someone who knows how to use a computer first.

Here is how it works: Step 1: Make copies of your songs on data CDs or data DVDs. Doesn't matter that they are DRM'd, you can copy the files without any problems, you just can't _play_ them on a different computer. Step 2: Unregister your computer with iTMS (not fatal if you forget this step). Step 3: Reformat your system (since that is what you were doing anyway). Step 4: Copy all the DRM'd files back to your computer. Step 5: Register that computer again with iTMS if needed. Step 6: Should you run out of registrations (you can register five computers), tell Apple to unregister _all_ your computers, then go back to Step 4.

Re:Good news (1)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118383)

when Tiger came out I reformatted my system and had no trouble at all with my iTunes songs. I followed the instructions.

the only slight difficulty was when my Windows machine decided to crash and I couldn't get it to boot properly so that I could run iTunes and deregister the machine. I went through Apple's website form and they deregistered it for me. (and even if I couldn't have deregistered it, that would only have been one of my five simultaneous registrations out of order.)

Back up your data! (5, Insightful)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118156)

No, seriously.

If you do anything remotely important with your computer (entertainment included), then you should be doing regular back ups.

Restoring iTunes music and video files from a backup set of DVD-Rs or an external hard disk is almost effortless. If you value your electronic purchases (and other data) that much, you'll back it up.

Now as for being able to play your DRM'd files in 20 years, you might want to transcode or do like most people did when going from VHS to DVD: re-purchase in the new format.

Re:Good news (1)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118196)

But the reason I don't buy music there is that if I am spending that much cash, I want to own something more concrete. What if my computer is lost, or the data corrupted? With a CD I can always re-rip, but with just the MP3 file it would be gone forever...

huh? what if your CD is lost, or the surface scratched. exactly the same thing, you don't get it back. it's gone. it's lost forever.

Either the iTMS download or a ripped MP3 from the CD is copyable, and able to be backed up an infinite amount of times on any media you want, and spread across your house, your parents, your cousins, your workplace. like any digital media it can be backed up & restored with no loss.

What a bullshit argument. both downloadable files or CDs can be lost. The file however can be restored immediately from backups, over and over again and it stays shiny and new exactly as you bought it.

Re:Good news (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118484)

What a bullshit argument. both downloadable files or CDs can be lost. The file however can be restored immediately from backups, over and over again and it stays shiny and new exactly as you bought it.

I don't necessarily think it's a b******t arguement. The music companies have often counted on people replacing their music libraries on a regular basis. One of the reasons the CD was introduced was to get people to "buy" the same music they had all over again. And I have encountered increasingly more CDs that use media that is easily damaged (like the reflection layer being the same as the paint on the back). Sure they are cheaper to make, but the possibility of your music flaking off is an added bounus in the industry's eyes.

This is why there has been a "new" disc format proposed with higher resolution (and it most likely will have anti-rip technology installed).

The fact is outside of slashdot the average consumer does not believe in backups until they go through the expensive/painful lesson of losing their data.

Rather than give people a way to permanently own a digital file they bought and downloaded and adding value to a product, we see an industry at war with the consumer by trying to put the consumer's computer in "lockdown" by installing a rootkit.

Another arguement could be made that Microsoft (whose WMA/DRM format is increasingly being used) is partly responsible because of the woeful security of it's operating systems is leading to increasing data loss.

So yes, the average slashdotter knows about backups. But the average Joe off the street most likely does not until he loses his music or damages his CD.

I could also go on about CDs apparent "bit-rot" taking place as they get older too, so that "shiny new CD" even though carefully preserved still won't stay that way after a length of time. And I am quite sure that the muzic industry will continue to do it's part to make backups harder to do in the future.

The fact is that music industry wants to extract a recurring fee from the consumer for the same music they already own. To say otherwise would be denying the obvious. That's why it's not a BS arguement.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118256)

That's why we have Gnutela and Bittorrent

Re:Good news (1)

utnow (808790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118354)

There's a good reason you can have the file on more than one computer/iPod. In fact I'm almost positive that the ITMS will let you redownload the file up to 5 times (or 4?) as long as your username is associated with the license for the song.

Re:Good news (1)

tgrimley (585067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119037)

You mean you can copy the file to another machine and play it there. You can play the file on 5 different machines, but you have to pay to redownload it.

Re:Good news (5, Informative)

the_Pnut (894120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118653)

Have you ever tried this?

I called the tech support number on iTunes and told them that the hard drive on my computer failed, and that I lost all my songs. The lady I talked to spent 5 minutes with me "refreshing" my account. At the end I opened iTunes, clicked on advanced-> check for purchases, and then all of the songs I had bought from iTunes re-downloaded. That didn't help for all the songs I had that I did not buy from iTunes, but apple was very easy to deal with, and allowed me to "re-own" the music I had bought from them. Now I run a back up script every week, cause it's just easier, but apple definitely lets to download your music again if you wish too.

Also, if you want something more "concrete" you can burn from apple's lossless format to a CD, and then put the CD in your rack.

Re:Good news (1)

DaphneDiane (72889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119003)

I had a very similar experience with the music store, though I only lost a few songs. Apple was able to get them all back for me. I was rather impressed by how nice they were about the whole thing, and it's one of the reason I still buy a lot of music from them. I do wish though they would start selling music in Apple Lossless (protected or not, I don't care, since Apple's DRM seem liberal enough), and even better offer the ability to upgrade songs to that format. I'd be willing to pay a small fee per song just to upgrade.

Re:Good news (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119284)

Also, if you want something more "concrete" you can burn from apple's lossless format to a CD, and then put the CD in your rack.

Wha? I'm pretty sure that the music they sell you is NOT lossless. Their .m4p AAC format is NOT Apple Lossless. In order to use Apple Lossless and make it worthwhile, you have to have a CD in the first place, then encode to Apple Lossless.

Besides, buying the music from iTunes doesn't get a nice printed booklet or the lyrics.

the benefits of iTMS (1)

tomcres (925786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118731)

Well, you need to back up your files. The nice thing about iTMS is that you only need to authorize your computer by signing into iTunes and then your ID validates your computer and you can play the files you backed up. Unlike, say Napster, where if your subscription runs out, so does your ability to play the file.

That said, I find I do almost all of my music shopping on iTunes now. The main reasons being that they have a lot of older music which is not always easy to find in a record store, and that with copy-protected CDs becoming more and more prevalent, I don't want to run the risk of bringing something nasty home to my Windows PC. (It would be a PITA to have to use my Slackware box to rip everything, then copy it over to the Windows PC anyway because that's where iTunes lives.) iTunes is safe and convenient and has a better selection than most conventional record stores.

Also, the quality of AAC 128 is just fine for me. There is a difference from CD, but it is so minimal that I can't really justify not buying from iTunes just out for the sake of quality alone. The quality far surpasses cassette tape, and I used to have a huge library of tapes. Considering I do most of my listening in the car, tape quality is just fine, and AAC 128 is far better than tape quality. I'm playing through an FM transmitter anyway!

The other nice thing about AAC is that the algorithms (at least in QuickTime's encoder, it seems) are so deterministic that I find if I have to, for some reason, rip an audio CD that I burned from AAC files, if I rip it again in AAC at the same bitrate, I honestly can't tell any difference at all. Perhaps you could do the same with MP3 (provided you use the exact same encoder) or WMA, but out of the three, AAC is the only one that sounds near perfect at 128kbps for all music types. I find that WMA9 at 128 is good for most music, but it is dreadfully awful at most country music at that bitrate. It has trouble with fiddle, steel guitar, and some vocal subtleties.

All in all, I think that Apple has a good product overall in the combination of the iTMS, the iTunes application, and the iPod. It works well as a system, the cost of music is low, the DRM is fair, and the quality of music is high. I don't think anyone else offers a solution that matches in all those areas. So I'm not surprised to see iTMS becoming a major player in music sales, especially given the skyrocketing popularity of the iPod.

The run-up to Christmas? (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118042)

he would not be surprised if iTunes was to continue to climb the charts, especially in the run-up to Christmas when iPods are high are many present lists.

The run-up to Christmas? Wouldn't it be more likely that it will climb after Christmas, after said iPods are opened and starting to be used?

Re:The run-up to Christmas? (5, Funny)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118056)

He's only an analyst. Be gentle with him. He probably thinks everyone gets a $250,000 Christmas bonus.

Who cashes in? (0)

spejsklark (913641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118043)

Does anybody have any idea what kind of margins iTMS has compared to a physical store? Considering all the money saved on CDs, leaflets, distribution, the profit per song should be much higher at the iTMS.

Somehow I get the feeling the record companies are the ones cashing in.

Re:Who cashes in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118091)

The music companies get about 68 cent, Apple 28,-. the artists 5,-

(Bonte)

Re:Who cashes in? (4, Insightful)

gobbo (567674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118139)

The music companies get about 68 cent, Apple 28,-. the artists 5,-

Margins, he said. After bandwidth, administration, credit card charges, server rooms, and development, I'm sure Apple doesn't have too much of that 28 cents left. However, even a 2 penny margin can add up if the numbers are right, and it's used strategically - *wink*.

Re:Who cashes in? (1)

zigziggityzoo (915650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118217)

Apple has said in the past that iTMS is not about selling music, it's about selling iPods.

Re:Who cashes in? (4, Insightful)

guet (525509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118236)

Somehow I get the feeling the record companies are the ones cashing in.

Apple cashes in now on ipods, and later on music when the record companies are obsolete.

They don't have to worry about margins on music just now so long as it's in profit and growing the market.

Re:Who cashes in? (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119089)

I don't have an answer, but, luckily, neither does this article!

Have to love news media today. Excuse my rant, but it doesn't really tell us a lot when a "leading analyst" assures us of something.

Call me crazy, but it seems like comparing sales at ITMS and Tower would be comparing apples and oranges. How are they comparing them? Songs to singles? Songs to albums? Albums to albums? Volume moved?

I mean, I don't find the conclusion to be completely unbelievable. But can anyone think of a valid comparison between the two?

--Petey

Take the long view (1, Insightful)

gobbo (567674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118048)

All the manoevering you're seeing and hearing from competitors, FUD and disinfo and legitimate complaints, is because the people in the middle of this new-take-on-an-old-market have the long view.

The next retail high-season, pshaw. Think twelve years from now. Apple competitors in the media-hub-style emerging markets have puckered anuses. Meanwhile it's full steam ahead towards full vertical integration at Apple.

It's an old saw by now, but since Sony isn't there already (and they could've been, nearly), Jobs is willing to play that role. This will probably be a good thing for operating systems, as an aside.

new business practises (4, Insightful)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118052)

i have a friend whose band is on itunes, they are called yonni. they have no record deal at the moment, but recorded the songs in a studio themselves. maybe in the future companies like apple will replace traditional record companmies entirely. would be nice, no dirty executives and slimy contracts, just the musician and the record store, how it should be. watch record company executives everywhere get worried...

Re:new business practises (2, Interesting)

Pliep (880962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118096)

sorry to go offtopic but how did they get in contact with the iTMS and how did they get their music into it without a record deal?

Re:new business practises (1)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118132)

not entirely sure, but the one of the guys in the band used to be in an old band waaay back called cabaret voltaire so he knows a little about the business. i would imagine they agreed to it all via email then sent them the music with artwork over the wire. that is pure specualtion though, maybe they sent a cd in or something

Re:new business practises (5, Informative)

iReflect (215501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118188)

cdbaby.net/dd [cdbaby.net]

Re:new business practises (1)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118125)

I really hope that becomes the norm rather than the exception, but getting your first record contract is still seen as being a rite of passage for new bands - a big chunk of cash in your pocket and your album promoted more than just at gigs. There needs to be an equivalent on iTMS before bands and artists stop chasing record deals.

Hopefully everyone... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118053)

...who has said "If someone can get something for free, they sure as hell won't buy it!" will shut up now. A large proportion of people - certainly enough to keep a business afloat - will pay for things by default, but get put off due to "value additions" such as draconian DRM or the general attitude from most media companies that all of their customers are thieves*. Apple has grasped that it is not necessarily cost that deters people from buying but inconvenience, and so by stream-lining the process of payment and delivery so that it is almost imperceptible - so, in fact, the customer can almost forget that they are "buying" anything at all! - they have managed to shore up such massive sales as to be an embarrassment to the RIAA. We see a similar thing with, of all things, mobile-phone ringtones - massive quantities are available online for free, but the fact that buying a ringtone is so much easier has led to this unfathomable market [if you had told me that such crappy "products" as ringtones would have been even mildly profitable a few years back, I'd have thought you were mad!] raking in billions per year.

* A recent example of this - I liked "Batman Begins" very much, and thought it was sufficiently well-written and directed that I'd like to reward the makers by buying a copy, even if it's not something I'm necessarily going to watch again enough to justify the purchase. Upon it's arrival, I opened the box and the first thing that fell out was not a nice, slick inlay, but a anti-piracy leaflet from piracyisacrime.com. Rolling my eyes, I placed the DVD into my player and settled down to watch the film, and what do I see? No slick animated menus, not even the boringly superfluous trailers for films I'm never going to watch, but a fucking commercial equating "piracy" with car-theft!. It looks like it was supposed to be unskippable, too, but thankfully my player does not have the "prevent the owner from skipping stuff he doesn't want to see" "value addition". The lunacy of this is astounding - it is as if PickleWorld(TM) created a huge, terrifying banner equating pickle-theft with murder to be placed in their stores, but instead of putting it over the side-exit or whichever mode of exit is usually employed by the serial pickle-thief, they put it over the checkout where it can only be seen by paying customers!

FUCK YOU PICKLEWORLD!

--SSJ

Well... (1)

earthshake (908804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118061)

I think that there's nothing wrong with digital music downloading. The songs in the ITMS are only like 99 pence and it saves a trip out in the cold winter to the record store.

iTunes is gay (-1, Troll)

YaroKutai (933997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118067)

its for fags and sissies

Re:iTunes is gay (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118099)

its for fags and sissies

But not for queers and homos, they shop at Napster 2.0. And those cheap fudge-packers and dude-riders shop at AllOfMP3.

well... (2, Insightful)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118068)

although they may have drm at least they don't have rootkits. record company shot itself in the foot there. looks like the slow and drawn out death of the record companies is inevitable

Re:well... (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118458)

You posted a valid comment and I would have modded it back up if I'd had points.

I've had the same thought myself - the rootkit in CDs definitely makes CDs less valuable than iTMS download for those of us who like listening to music on our computers.

Even though Sony backed down this time, I'm sure their next effort will be almost as obnoxious, so it makes me no longer trust the CD medium.

D

Conflicting Numbers (1)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118073)

A few days ago there was a story about how iTunes is expected to change its 99 cent flat pricing in the next year; in that article the following claim is made, "EMI said today that digital sales, made up 4.9% of the company's sales in the last six months, up from 2.1% a year ago." (http://www.forbes.com/2005/11/16/apple-emi-itunes -cx_pak_1116autofacescan08.html [forbes.com] ). How can iTunes be so high in one chart, yet only account for less than 5% of EMI's total sales in the same period. From what I understand, EMI should be getting the majority of the sale on iTunes, so I'd expect it to be a bit higher.

Re:Conflicting Numbers (1)

donutface (847957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118094)

I could be wrong on this, but my guess is that EMI takes its total sales on a total tracks sold basis. So if you buy 1 album, you buy 14 tracks where as on iTunes you'd only buy 1 track, or 1/14th of an album.

Re:Conflicting Numbers (1)

Pliep (880962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118110)

I guess NPD are counting tracks sold to build their chart, and EMI are counting cash earned by selling tracks, which can of course lead to entirely different percentages and are not directly comparable.

Re:Conflicting Numbers (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118384)

>> How can iTunes be so high in one chart, yet only account for less than 5% of EMI's total sales in the same period.

According to the article, Apple is number seven in sales. It is quite possible to be number seven with only 5 percent of sales. Someone might have more accurate numbers, but I think in computer sales Apple is number 5 with about 5%, and Dell is number one with 18%, so Apple could easily be number seven in record sales with only five percent. Depends on how big the six bigger ones are (they could have 15% each), or how big the smaller ones are (there could be 15 more over selling just over four percent each).

P2P (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118092)

Why doesn't one of these studies ever compare both sales and P2P traffic at once, rather than one group studying sales, another studying P2P, and the RIAA censoring it all as yet another group compiles it into one report..?

-JDS

Though not so easy from here on in (1, Funny)

intmainvoid (109559) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118143)

So Apple has picked off the easy targets. Still a LONG way to go till wallmart should be worried.

(and wasn't the original press release [npd.com] 5 days ago?)

Re:Though not so easy from here on in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118201)

You must be new here.

<pedantic> (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118173)

Here is the press release [npd.com] by the NPD Group (those who did the study).
In Q3, the top 10 retailers were as follows (note: numbers within parentheses denote retailer unit-sales position in Q3 2004):

1. Wal-Mart (1)
2. Best Buy (2)
3. Target (3)
4. Amazon.com (4)
5. FYE (10)
6. Circuit City (Tied for 5)
7. Apple\iTunes (14)
8. Tower Records (Tied for 7)
9. Sam Goody (Tied for 5)
10. Borders (9)
This clearly has iTunes at position 7, Tower records at 8 (at 7 last year), and Borders at 10 (at 9 last year). Yet the Guardian says: "Both Tower Records and Borders slipped a place to seven and nine respectively." (No, that's from seven and nine).

I'm also somewhat hesitant about accepting these figures. Online, CDBaby [cdbaby.com] nearly outsells Amazon.com, yet it's nowhere to be seen in this chart. It is of course always possible that they're at position 11 or thereabouts (Hey Derek: you reading? Any idea?), but likewise it wouldn't surprise me at all if they'd been completely disregarded, given that they only sell independent artists...

Re: (4, Funny)

jsight (8987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118743)


Online, CDBaby nearly outsells Amazon.com, yet it's nowhere to be seen in this chart.


No, they don't.

Where is Hastings? (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119008)

Maybe it is a regional thing, but Hastings is by far the most popular brick-and-mortar music store among all the people I know. Best Buy and Circuit city both have a smaller selection and higher prices than Hastings. Same with Sam Goody, although I can understand it getting a spot, since teens who live at the mall usually shop there. I can also see Walmart at the top spot, and know a few people who buy music there. FYE must also be a regional thing because I have never heard of it.

The End Of Mac Hardware (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118208)

The utter fiasco that Intel's chips and roadmap of future chips should be a clear indication to even those foolish enough to believe the bullshit Jobs tried to pass off at the last WWDC that Apple is no longer serious about the desktop.

Apple is in the process of transforming themselves into the dominant force in digital media. Intel Macs is a way to ease the company out of the desktop computing market.

Sad, but Apple's hardware side of the company lived by Jobs and now they are in the process of being killed off by Jobs.

Re:The End Of Mac Hardware (1)

dmarcoot (96402) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118923)

your funny.

so i guess apple is going to stop making pro software too, where 20% of their revenue comes from high margin software sales?
all those pro video people they have on over to buy G5 towers, with 30" monitors , with FCP, DVDSP, are all going to love working off iMacs. I know they are cause I am one of them.

And the print designers, yeah they are going to take it in the ass if it means they can dump thier expandable towers to get to use a mac mini! fuck yeah!

i mean your just hysterical.

Slightly anecdotal... (4, Interesting)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118254)

Interesting. I had my 3-4 months of initial interest and purchasing, but that was about a year ago. About then I pretty much just stopped purchasing music, though (except for recently when I decided to start listening to jazz).

iTunes makes more sense when you're looking for music. I only knew that at Best Buy, I'd look for something and it would take a minute to find the right section, and then another minute to find the right area where the artist theoretically should be, and then another to determine that no, they don't have the CD.

Stranger still is the fact that some bands STILL refuse to (or their labels prohibit them from) posting all their CDs on iTMS. I'm looking at you, Dave Matthews Band.

What's the deal with that? Do they intentionally want to lower their sales figures? Or do they still operate in the theoretical haze of "profit margins" for sales that don't exist (iTMS) vs. sales that might exist otherwise (Best Buy, Tower)?

Oh, let's just get this over with... (5, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118277)

"Apple is the living embodiment of evil because they don't deliver me full quality ogg in a DRM free CD and DVD and and thumbdrive and certainly won't call me in 6 months with my free BluRay / HD because information wants to be free as in air."

"All digital music is compromised crap anyway, I only listen to each band live in concert in the first city of every tour, 4th row center. Please IM me at "in33dskymil3s247".

"iPods can't hold a candle to those myriad failed / bankrupt players, but Apple has succeeded because they have managed to emulate MS in their draconian underhanded methods. Fight the power!"

"Ah, yet more solid proof that Apple will in the ashcan in mere hours - Dvorak is working on revision 37 of his eulogy as we speak - this time for sure!"

Re:Oh, let's just get this over with... (-1, Troll)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118590)

I always find it interesting how Apple gets a pass for selling music only usable in their own player. If Microsoft sold a MS-created player that only played "Microsoft music", people would be screaming.

I'm sorry, but it's yet another reason why I hate Apple, and it's part of a long pattern of their history. Apple and Microsoft do exactly the same things (except that Apple is worse -- they use the lawsuit as a weapon, whereas Microsoft almost never does it). It's just that Apple is less competent at being a monopoly.

I know, I know. Mod me down. Any criticism of Apple is flamebait. I'm used to it. But I will continue to hate Apple (and recommend that no one EVER buy Apple products) until they change their ways.

Re:Oh, let's just get this over with... (0)

dmarcoot (96402) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118891)

oh i dont know, maybe because no one is forcing you to buy from apple.
get over it and buy from somewhere else. save your hate for something that matters.

Re:Oh, let's just get this over with... (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119200)

It's a shame you got modded down as a troll. I actually agree with you to a certain extent - I'd fear the alternate reality where Apple was able to take the microcomputer crown instead of Microsoft.

That said, I'm not sure I would write off Apple products completely. They make and in the past have made some great stuff. LaserWriter II comes to mind. Similarly, Microsoft also occasionally comes out with some nice things (I've used Microsoft mice for years). I guess the morale is caveat empor.

Just a precursor (4, Insightful)

bbzzdd (769894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118479)

Times are changing. People are no longer satisfied paying upwards to $20 USD for physical media which becomes more and more restrictive as time goes by.

The "free love" people tasted with P2P was a stake in the heart of the physical format. We can't go back to the way things were. People like iTunes because it sucks less than the alternatives. Sure, it's coated with DRM, but at least it's not installing rootkits on your PC.

Home recording, inexpensive marketing via the internet, and the digital media formats are the trifecta that will strip a lot of undeserving middle-aged record execs of their Diablos.

The music recording industry is fixing to implode, but what rises from the ashes could be very promising.

ITMS? (0)

chamblah (774997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118528)

I've seen this in every discussion of iTunes and I'm not able to find the logic of it.

Why does the abbreviation of iTunes have the letter M in it?

Shouldn't it, logically, be ITNS? Or is ITNS used by some one else that I'm not aware of?

Please explain this one to me.

Re: ITMS? (3, Informative)

Jupix (916634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118541)

iTunes Music Store.

Re: ITMS? (1)

chamblah (774997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118565)

Thanks, that does make sense. I just always thought of it as just iTunes.

Re: ITMS? (2, Informative)

Erik K. Veland (574016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118601)

It's for separating the player and the store. iTunes has been around for at least four years before they added a music store to it :p

ITunes Music Store. 'nuff said. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14118606)

-matt

iTMS is really the only way I shop now (2, Interesting)

nbahi15 (163501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118909)

When iTunes first came out I bought a song out of novelty, but I already had such a substantial music selection on CD it seemed rather pointless. I primarily listen to indie rock, but recently I have been buying a lot more classical. iTunes is really the only good way to buy classical. Going into Best Buy to discuss Brahms and his Hungarian Dances is pointless, and you can't tell if they are of very good quality until you get them home. In addition to the ability to listen to the music in advance the prices are much better. If you go into a shop with a decent selection of classical music everything starts at $30. I get albums for $9.99 on iTMS. I really hope iTunes becomes more successful because music sales have been something of a racket for so long.

128K? (1)

meehawl (73285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14118921)

iTunes is really the only good way to buy classical.

Classical at 128Kbps? What does that sound like?

Here's the actual list (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119205)

Here's the actual list [npd.com] , with last year's ranking in parentheses:
  1. Wal-Mart (1)
  2. Best Buy (2)
  3. Target (3)
  4. Amazon.com (4)
  5. FYE (10)
  6. Circuit City (Tied for 5)
  7. Apple\iTunes (14)
  8. Tower Records (Tied for 7)
  9. Sam Goody (Tied for 5)
  10. Borders (9)

This list has some tough implications for the RIAA and its members. None of the top four companies gets most of its revenue from music. They're all very strong companies used to telling their suppliers what prices they want to see. The classic "record store" chains, Tower and Sam Goody, are falling off the list.

Some of the changes just reflect consolidation in the record store industry. FYE [fye.com] is a classic "record store" chain. It's really Trans World Entertainment [twec.com] , the result of mergers between Wherehouse, Record Town, Camelot Music, and Strawberries. Stores in malls carry the FYE brand ("offering a consistent mall-based retailing experience"), while freestanding stores bear the names Wherehouse Music, Coconuts Music & Movies, Strawberries, Spec's, CD World, Streetside Records and Planet Music.

Also, don't forget that Wal-Mart sells music on-line. [walmart.com] Even if the RIAA can bully Apple into raising the song price for iPods, that's not going to work with Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart just won't tolerate suppliers increasing their prices. They'll find other suppliers. Note the growing list of "Wal-Mart exclusives".

Twelve songs doesn't really equal an album (1)

httpamphibio.us (579491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119318)

The problem with this is the assumption that twelve songs is an album. A lot of the music I listen to has eight to ten songs on an album, but as I remember, more popular music typically has more than twelve songs per album.

Somebody needs to do the legwork and figure out how many individual songs were sold at the other retailers and divide that by twelve as well.

I think they may have chosen twelve as the number of songs per album to make a splash... this story has been reported all over the place, if iTunes hadn't made the list at all it would be a non-issue. They could basically choose to put iTunes wherever they wanted on this list.
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