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Apple Holding Back the Music Business?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the how-dare-you-use-technology dept.

Music 705

conq writes "With average weekly download as of Nov. 27 sales down 0.44% vs. the third quart, BusinessWeek speculates that Apple might in fact be holding back the music industry." From the article: "As has been true since the start, iPod owners mostly fill up their players from their own CD collections or swipe tunes from file-sharing sites. Now legal downloads may be losing their luster. According to Nielsen SoundScan, average weekly download sales as of Nov. 27 fell 0.44% vs. the third quarter. Says independent media analyst Richard Greenfield: 'We're not seeing the kind of dramatic growth we should given the surge in sales of iPods and other MP3 players.'"

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No (1)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250467)

And if you don't know why, search this site for "RIAA"

My theory... (4, Funny)

LeonGeeste (917243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250573) that some people buy iPods, but fill 'em up with pirated music instead of stuff they paid for at iTunes. I'm thinking about testing this theory soon.

Who wanted Apple to use DRM? (5, Insightful)

kherr (602366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250603)

This is such a load of crap. It was RIAA who insisted on DRM before Apple could offer music. So Apple developed FairPlay to make RIAA happy, and thus was able to get all of the music we see in iTunes Music Store. This is whining because of the monster that was created. Apple owns the only really successful online music store. Apple owns the only portable music player that works with FairPlay. Music labels can easily get around this by dropping the need for DRM.

This is exactly the lock-in future that DRM brings to the world. The music labels are crying bitter tears because they don't control the locks. Whaa whaa whaa. What would be different if Sony had succeeded instead of Apple? Do we think we'd be seeing Sony offering whatever they had to everyone? No. DRM simply sucks. It's anti-consumer, anti-competitive and restricts the growth of the marketplace. Reap what you've sown, you greedy bastards.

Re:Who wanted Apple to use DRM? (2, Interesting)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250766)

This isn't the music labels whining this time. This was Napster complaining that you can't load Napster purchased song onto an Ipod. You think the Record labels would really complain if people were to "mostly fill up their players from their own CD collections." That means more CD sales.

efficiency leads to deflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250618)

the value of music is less than coveted

What am I supposed to do?!!! (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250468)

My Ipod's full, I can't buy any more music!

Absolutely Correct (2, Interesting)

whargoul (932206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250469)

I use my own CD collection - NOT illegal downloads

Re:Absolutely Correct (2, Insightful)

op12 (830015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250543)

I use my own CD collection - NOT illegal downloads

The article mentions this does that hold back the music industry? They're still making money (and probably more per song than through Apple) on people buying CD's.

Re:Absolutely Correct (5, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250765)

The article mentions this does that hold back the music industry? They're still making money (and probably more per song than through Apple) on people buying CD's.

Because those greedy bastards want a nickel EVERY TIME YOU HEAR THE SONG

Re:Absolutely Correct (5, Insightful)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250587)

This is a case of unreasonable expectations.

When CD's came out, the vast majority of music lovers replaced the albums they already owned with new CD's.

I seriously think that there are music execs out there who were hoping that a new format (downloaded music) would mean that we would all want to buy our entire music collections all over again, in spite of the fact that the power is in our own hands to convert files this time.

Consequently, the back-catalog sales are absolute shit compared to what the early days of CD's were like. Lots of people are using iTMS to buy songs from Fountains of Wayne, Death Cab for Cutie, and/or the latest pop princesses, but nobody's re-buying the old Pink Floyd albums they already own in another format, and that's what's driving them nuts.

Why, we even have the audacity to BACK UP our media files, so we no longer need to buy a new copy every few years because of loss, damage, or wear. It's KILLING their sales numbers.

Re:Absolutely Correct (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250700)

I am the same way and for a very practical reason: the quality (sound quality) of digital downloads is inferior to that of a CD. If Apple were to offer high quality downloads (using the Apple lossless format for example) I would start buying downloads even if the per song price were over $1. Maybe they could offer the "standard" 128k AAC files for $1 and the "audiophile" Apple Lossless files for $1.50 or even $2.00. For a lossy compressed format, ~200kbit VBR MP3 is the minimum I will accept. (I encode my own CDs using LAME preset standard and that seems to average out around 200k.)

Also, they need to come up with a solution to the "segue" problem. Many albums are mixed such that one track segues smoothly into the next. You get this when you buy the CD. When you buy digital downloads you get hiccups (gaps) between the tracks. Kludges like a crossfade in the MP3 player are not acceptable. I want the exact segue as mixed on the original CD!

There are two pieces to fixing this: the files themselves need tags indicating that a segue exists into the next track from the album and, for compressed audio formats, there needs to be a tag indicating any "gap" (coding delay or frame padding) at the beginning and end of the file such that the MP3 player can strip this off during playback. (The LAME encoder does this and so you get gapless playback on an enabled player eg Foobar2000.) The other item the tags should contain is a recommended fadein and fadeout to use when a track is not played among the other tracks of that album. That way you dont get abrupt cutoffs when playing songs in shuffle.

Did I mention I still buy music on CD? Lots of it too!

Could it possibly be because of... (1)

Ionizer7 (814098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250481)

everyone buying Christmas gifts for others? I know that iTunes has a "give a gift" feature, but I don't think this is the main way of giving music as a gift.

god, mom, you are such a LAME-O! (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250563)

What a crappy present! []

"This even roots my computar, suckwit."

Re:Could it possibly be because of... (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250774)

That's what I was wondering, and from TFA,

A source close to the Cupertino (Calif.) company says sales of iTunes gift cards are "off the charts," so downloads should surge after Christmas.

Silly (5, Insightful)

lewp (95638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250485)

Oh no! Downloads are down less than 1% since the third quarter!

Seriously, it's right before Christmas, as the article points out. Nobody's going nuts buying music because they're spending all their money on presents and other holiday shit. Apple says they're selling a crapload of gift cards, and I believe them, given that everything iPod seems to fly off the shelves, virtual or otherwise. Regardless, since you no longer have to buy the physical media songs come on, there's no reason to buy them when you're doing your normal Christmas shopping, so sales very well *should* be down.

iPod sales are nuts, as usual, but that doesn't mean that music has to be selling, either. How many people you know, out of those who have bought iPods recently, are buying their first one? I'm sure a large portion of whatever iPods they're selling are peoples' second or third such devices. They're not going to be re-buying songs just because they got a new player, at least for now...

All this amounts to is another chance for the music services that lost (and it was pretty much over before they even got started) to bash Apple in a futile attempt to gain some traction. It's pointless, though. There's no buzz about Napster or Rhapsody, it's all iPod, iPod, iPod, for better or worse.

Re:Silly (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250634)

haha apply fanbois, answer for everything

Re:Silly (1)

Morgahastu (522162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250636)

0.44% percent might not seem like much but the point the article is making is that how many millions of iPods have been sold since last year and iTunes sales have only gone DOWN. They should have gone up at the same rate as iPod sales.

Re:Silly (4, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250673)

Agreed, this article is a little off the mark. Apple is a pioneer in this field and inevitable there are going to be some shifts as the industry adjusts itself. Certainly it makes more sense to sell some tunes for different prices, just as movies tend to sell for more at first and then end up in the discount bin when they're old hat.

I think by demonstrating that it's possible to be a profitable "middle man" in the online music business, Apple has in fact saved the tushies of the music companies by offering an alternative to napster-like music trading systems. This exemplary system can be emulated by the music companies, if they so wish and assuming they have the intellect and vision, or they can go through Apple or Real or whoever else jumps in (Microsoft, probably).

The iPod would not have succeeded if Apple had tied it strictly to their iTunes database and disallowed any other formats. The secret of success for any great product is its power to do one thing really well and flexibly, emphasis on the latter. They had to let people rip CDs to their iPods, and of course that will lead to trading and avoiding paying for tunes, but it also allowed the iPod to revolutionize the "walkman" generation's listening habits.

Business Week is a pretty astute publication but this is clearly a case of short term-ism getting in the way of seeing what a revolutionary product the iPod really is--and now they're doing it again with videos. Should be interesting to see where they go with this. I think iPod may eventually absorb the cell phone and handheld organizer and we'll see excellent high capacity, wifi/cell-enabled personal bliss bars in everyone's shirt pocket in a few years.

Re:Silly (1)

SillySnake (727102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250691)

Lets not forget of course the recent Sony DRM problems. I'd imagine most consumers just hear DRM BAAAD!! AVOID DRM!! From their techie friends, the news media, and whoever else.. When they realize that the ITMS songs are DRM'd, they avoid them too..
Or at least one half of one percent of people think that way..

Re:Silly (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250719)

Seriously, it's right before Christmas, as the article points out. Nobody's going nuts buying music because they're spending all their money on presents and other holiday shit.

It makes you wonder if the figures included iTMS gift certificates.

As for piracy.. well people could also say that the VCR hurt television sponsors, the question is "what do you do about it?"

IIRC (was not very old when it happened), everyone fought VCRs back in the day, and lost. Even if it did hurt TV ad sales back then, no-one can doubt that TV has gone on to be a much more lucrative enterprise, in spite of VCRs.

I'm not one of those who thinks music piracy increases sales, I actually think that's a bunch of crap, but I don't think it hurts sales nearly as much as they say it does. I remember at least 3/5 of the big five were charged with price fixing the same year as napster was big, and then they complained of low sales. Nowadays I think sales have more to do with the natural waxing and waining of the market.

I also think the storing of music on hard drives has lead to fewer sales due to physical media theft/damage (your CDs getting stolen out of your car, or your CD getting scratched for instance) disappearing. Imagine how many tens of thousands of CD players are stolen out of cars every year, along with possibly hundreds of thousands of CDs.. at $15/piece, that could mean millions, and now, because of iPods, people have a backup of their collection on their computers and don't need to buy the CDs again. I know all the CDs in my car are mixed and burned; if someone steals them I wont be buying more music because of it.

The music industry is not now, nor has it ever been dying. It's just scaling back a bit due to various reasons, and piracy is undoubtedly a part, albeit overstated.

Surge of sales... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250487)

could that be...hmm...for Christmas/Hanukkah gifts? nah...

In Soviet Russia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250493)

In Soviet Russia BACK HOLDS YOU!!!!

this sentence contains no caps.

Not that bad... (5, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250494)

Well, 0.44% is not too much to whine about (less than half of one percent?) It could be that maybe a lot of popular *new* music didn't come out during that time compared to the quarter before.

Not to mention a lot of the MP3 player sales they're basing their estimates on could have been bought as Christmas presents.

I think they just WANTED a big growth in sales and things just don't always work out that way. They should compare things year to year, not quarter to quarter...

That's my $0.02

I think I know why (5, Funny)

Potent (47920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250572)

Could it be that music just sucks 0.44% more than the previous quarter? :)

Re:Not that bad... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250668)

come on keep posting.. you will need 97 more to bet a song :)

A saturated market. (2, Insightful)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250496)

I would suspect that people have enough of what they want to hear.

For now.
That's all.

Re:A saturated market. (1)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250561)

I agree, my iPod is full and now that I've bought most of the music I already know and love I'm left with the rare gems in a sea of garbage to seek out and buy. My music spending is way down, but since I don't download "free" music I can assure the RIAA that it isn't because I'm finding it elsewhere, it's simply because I'm not finding what I want.

Disposable Music (2, Insightful)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250727)

I get my music from, I know its not the most legal business on the market but when I want music that good & works on any of my devices I can get it, even if i am only going to listen to it a few times.

Music is like the new fast food, its junk for our brains & ears & people want a lot of it, I don't get how the music industry doesn't realise that & where the hell do they get their market research from.

People want lots of music & they want it as cheaply as they can, when your competeing with a free market like the internet you can't try to restrict your competition you have to vigirously compete with it, even if your competition is illegal, its still competition.

Is the music industry run by monkeys? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250502)

I am sure sales will pick up as soon as Apple starts charging "market price" for the music per the wishes of the music industry. :/

wait.... (1)

jollyroger1210 (933226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250503)

Has Apple ever held back anything?? Also, if they know that there are illegal file-sahring websites and programs, why don't they work harder toshut them down?

0.44%? (1, Insightful)

SpcAgentOrange (936329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250505)

Is that like, less than 1/2 of 1 percent? Hell, that's a rounding error. Imagine that in the runup to [insert winter holiday of your choosing] people are buying less individual music, and more big-ticket items. K

You're kidding, right? (4, Informative)

daeley (126313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250507)

The second "critic" expert they decided to ask said this:

"The villain in the story is the iPod. You have this device consumers love, but they're being restricted from buying anything other than downloads from Apple. People are bored with that."

Who was this expert?

None other than Chris Gorog, CEO of Napster Inc.

Yeah, Chris, people are *real* bored. And by people, you mean you and your cronies, and by bored, you mean not making enough money for your tastes.

I would expect more out of BusinessWeek.

Re:You're kidding, right? (5, Insightful)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250730)

Business Week is the least capitalistic of all the business magazines. Their core reader is the useless MBA whose sole function is gumming up the works while collecting one more paycheck toward retirement. You can disagree with the Economist and WSJ but at a minimum they are anti-government intervention in all ways (good and bad for business). I generally find myself in agreement with the libertarian ethos of those, but can't stand the editorial bent of businessweek. Businessweek is pro corporate welfare but anti government intervention in anything that might hurt business.
They are protectionistic, rearview focused, and generally useless for even lining a bird cage. The sole redeeming feature is that they are pretty good at calling the top of a mainia (by focusing on why you should be there now).
It has always surprised me that the music companies blessed Apple's entry into music, when the most basic sales calculations were demonstrating that the iPod was the thing that legitimized the public use of shared music for a large subset of mainstream consumers.

XMas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250508)

How many of those IPods are sitting in boxes with bows on them? It may not make up all the numbers missing but I'm willing to bet there will be a crapload of legal downloads on XMas day and in the weeks and months to follow. I know for a fact that Napster has sold a ton of download credit gift cards that presumably will be used on or around Xmas day.

Be my guest (5, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250509)

Critics say Apple's proprietary technology and its refusal to offer more ways to buy or to stray from its rigid 99 cents a song model is dampening legal sales of digital tunes.

If music industry is considering non-propietory technology and prices below 99 cents/song, there is nothing Apple can do to prevent that. All they have to do is put their stuff on

Re:Be my guest (1)

ls -la (937805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250686)

I'm pretty sure it's not the prices below 99 cents the music industry is concerned about.

Maybe it's because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250515)

... we don't want to buy the same music *twice*?

0.44%!!! (2, Interesting)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250517)

0.44%? Oh no! The sky's falling in. Good job it wasn't 1% or we'd be back to the days of the Great Depression with music execs throwing themselves out of windows. Sheesh! 0.44% is within statistical variance.

Re:0.44%!!! (2, Funny)

scolby (838499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250623)

Good job it wasn't 1% or we'd be back to the days of the Great Depression with music execs throwing themselves out of windows.

Methinks that might make a lot of people smile.

Re:0.44%!!! (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250761)

did you mean to say "good god" instead of "good job"? i know this is /., but damn!

A whole 0.44% (1)

nystagman (603173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250518)

Gosh! Such precision! I'd like to see some analysis of these numbers, as I suspect that the uncertainty in how they are gathered could very well be much greater than this devastating half of a percent.

Faulty reasoning from the start (3, Interesting)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250519)

FTFA: As has been true since the start..
What exactly is this generalization based on? It basically implies that all individuals owning an ipod/mp3 player are copyright infringers from the get go. Then, just because sales are down for a quarter, it's the sign of the Apocalypse! Are they not teaching logic in schools anymore?

Re:Faulty reasoning from the start (2, Funny)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250651)

Nope, it gave place to creationism...

Too Expensive (5, Insightful)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250522)

When downloads start costing significantly less online than on CDs (just like CDs should cost significantly less than CDs) people will buy quite a bit more.

Re:Too Expensive (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250684)

Well seriously, how much does it cost of distribute a cheap piece of plastic to retail stores? Because that's the biggest cut you can expect. It's amazing how we've recently had these big articles about fraudulent camera shops, but it seems most people expect them to start selling with a big-ass rebate once it gets online. If they could make more money selling a CD than an online download because of warped business logic like that, is it any wonder they don't like online downloads?

Re:Too Expensive (2, Insightful)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250760)

I heartily agree with that. Selling a CD off the shelf means manufacturing lots of them, printing booklets, shrink-wrapping, distributing to stores, suffering inevitable waste and theft, not always having the supply in the right place for the demand, etc etc.

Digital sales are VERY efficient. Once something is recorded and set up, your only distribution cost is bandwidth. So why the heck does one CDs worth of material cost the same as one physical CD?

For that matter, since a lot of the record company's work has been cut out, they should get a smaller cut of the profits than before, giving more to artists. Companies like CD Baby are doing nicely with this. Magnatune is another neat site; you can listen to streaming music all you like and you set your own price for the download (within limits).

I don't agree with stealing music, but I do think that low prices are a good way for music sellers to win back some of the business that now goes to illegal downloads.

Huh? (1)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250526)

"You have this device consumers love, but they're being restricted from buying anything other than downloads from Apple. People are bored with that."

That's simply not true. You can put music from other services on an iPod.

Some, but not all (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250723)

Some other services, but not all other services. In particular, you can't put on WMA-protected music, which is the next most popular format for legal music downloads after iTMS's own FairPlay/AAC format. (The article is something of a shill for Napster, which uses WMA).

You can get lots and lots of music from other services in other formats supported by the iPod, especially MP3s, but usually those are from less-well-known bands or from services of dubious legality, like

And yet... (1)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250527)

And despite this distressing news of sales dropping less than half a percent, you can bet the RIAA is still pushing to increase the price of "popular" songs...

Ok two things........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250529)

1. There is CRAP out there. Nothing really new to listen to, so sales are down when the music out there sucks.......duh.

2. Many of those "ipod" and mp3 player sales are for christmas. Christmas Day and the week there after if sales are down then cry me a river.


They're GIFTS! (4, Insightful)

cloudscout (104011) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250530)

Yes, iPod sales are up, but those sales aren't going to transalte to iTMS purchases until AFTER the iPods have been opened. The story says that gift card sales are "off the charts". You can expect downloads to jump dramatically beginning December 24th.

Re:They're GIFTS! (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250669)

What's amazing is the geniuses at BusinessWeek can't figure this out. Amazing that a business writer can't figure out how retail works at Christmas. I bet Christmas day is HUGE at iTMS - and I bet their sysadmins are sweating bullets over it.

Sell us better music! (3, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250531)

"We're not seeing the kind of dramatic growth we should given the surge in sales of iPods and other MP3 players."

Hmmm... sales suck on CD, sales suck online... maybe it's time for the record industry to reconsider its current business model of pushing albums where the musicians lose almost all control to producers who churn out an album with three good songs and ten filler tracks.

Re:Sell us better music! (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250654)

Sell us better music!

Exactly. I can go to a local show for five bucks and hear better music (live, even) than watching MTV, turning on the radio or going to the latest OMG CONCERT at the Target Center (I live in Minneapolis). I'm also fairly certain some of these bands/acts would rather perform for people who like their music than deal with the BS that comes along with signing your life away to the RIAA (one reason here being that their music is a big part of their life, and you lose that to the greedy bastards).

An industry with millions of users is down 0.44%? (1, Insightful)

ComputerSherpa (813913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250539)

Overanalyze much?

Pfft. (1)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250540)

The day the music industry stops selling us DRM crippled, low-quality merchandise over the internet is the day I stop loading my iPod the conventional way.

The music is holding back the music business (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250545)

You want to see phenomenal growth? How about making phenominal music, not phenominal marketing campaigns. Otherwise, the only music you're going to sell is people buying their favorites in the new format, like they did from vinyl -> tapes, tapes -> CDs, CDs -> mp3s.

Find some really talented artists, not hyper-hyped hot chicks, make it available only digitally and watch the dollars roll in.

Fighting (1)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250549)

People like the RIAA are going to fight the internet as a distribution method to the hilt, and many other people will join them, because as it becomes more popular they will start losing their market. If I can buy a whole CD online and be listening to it in seconds, instead of going out and picking it up, I know which one I'd rather be doing, and it's the one that most people would.

Of course, the RIAA and other companies hate this because it means they can't control distrubution and it gives all artists an even playing board. Record companies aren't going to like it much either, when bands can sell their own music directly to a huge market without having to go through their process, and therefore cutting them out.

I can't see a lot of the companies involved going down without a fight, because it is big business. In regards to the music downloads falling, do they actually show comparison against CD sales for the same period? maybe it was a complete dip in the entire market.

IIRC (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250553)

The history of the CD, when the music industry was dragged, kicking and screaming, into that distribution medium, new releases came out on CD, old releases were on vinyl. Two years later, vinyl couldn;t be had, and the Beatles White Album was top of the (CD) charts, and R.E.M. or somebody was number two. Why do we feel that Internet distribution of music should be any different? I can get out my credit card, buy and download software today, or I can wait two weeks and get a printed CD with the software. Why should music be any different?

Re:IIRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250655)

You don't recall correctly. The first CDs hit the shelves (mosty locked cases) in the US in 1983. The White Album (don't italicize it, as its title is The Beatles; the White Album is a descriptive proper name) was released on CD in 1987, a few weeks after Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I know, I bought both the day they came out.

Not Apple's Fault! (4, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250555)

Jobs wants to lower the cost of songs, but the RIAA has insisted that they raise the cost of new songs in order to lower the cost of other ones. Many people are not willing to pay $.99/song muchless $1.xx for one. And the complaint from Napster in that article is pathetic... they are just upset that Apple dominates the marketplace. You want more sales... then lower the price! []

Who cares about 0.44 percent? (3, Insightful)

mobiux (118006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250557)

Is 0.44% a statistically significant number?

I.E. So of an average of 1,000,000 downloads, that means last month there were only 995600?

Seems like someone is reading alot into it.

Yes (1, Insightful)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250558)

I believe in the laisez-faire free market with exception to monopolies. In Apple's case, they have created one and good for them, but being at the top with tech stuff especially self-fulfills itself and the greater your marketshare, the more helium you have underneath to lift you further. Because that is due to the nature of consumers in whose minds a brand's importance is overstated instead of exclusively creating superior technology (which may be true but I said exclusive), it is ultra hard for other companies to compete. So, just as free markets get stiffled by government over-interference, Apple's throne is protecting them too much from the heat of competition that would otherwise pressure Apple to lower prices and or make even smaller nanos.

Lies! (5, Insightful)

Darius Jedburgh (920018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250559)

Napster CEO: "but they're being restricted from buying anything other than downloads from Apple"
Funny that seeing as (1) a large proportion of commercially available music can be downloaded from Apple and (2) iPods will play mp3 format files from any vendor or ripped from CDs. This guy is simply lying. It's interesting that someone can get away with such a bald-faced lie.

Re:Lies! (1)

tommers (893816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250776)

I think its pretty clear he was referring to buying downloads, not CDs. He wasn't acknowledging the very limited amount of mp3s that are available for legal download, but it is still true that iPods limit users from using DRMed music from all major providers on their iPods which is a very large percentage of the non-Apple downloads legally available. And its hard to argue that these limitations are for the benefit of consumers instead of Apple. You don't have to use anything but iTunes, but it certainly doesn't hurt you if services are given license to encode FairPlay AAC files. But it could hurt Apple's well-earned near-Monopoly.

Some people argue that any of these non-iTunes services could just provide mp3s, but most labels won't allow it and Napster couldn't just choose to provide mp3s without getting the labels to go along. So there is nothing that can be legally done on anyone's end except Apple's to allow the music one can purchase on Napster to be used on iPods. So I think his comments were fair, and certainly not shown to be "lies!".

Statistical Variation? (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250562)

How fair is it really to say that Apple is holding the music industry back when sales for one week (a small sample) are down (compared to the last quarter, a very large sample) a fraction of a percent?

blame apple (2, Insightful)

Paladin144 (676391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250567)

Yes, of course the music industry would love to blame Apple for anything that's been going wrong in their business. I'm sure it couldn't have anything to do with the big labels' dwindling music-producing skills. And lord knows it couldn't be that cool new bands are refusing to sign with major labels, and are deciding to go it alone against the RIAA, thus depriving the RIAA of the right to control their music and their future.

Really.... (1)

commo1 (709770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250569)

Historically, how do you measure the projected sales of music in a given market? There's no hard and fast science to it, it's a best guess based on so many factors it's ridiculous.

Perhaps there simply isn't that much new/good music out there at all and people aren't buying... how is the iPod REALLY affecting sales?

I personally think that music had a severe downturn in the late 90s, and upswing (which is now over) in the early 2000s. This is my opinion, but where are the really cool alt-rock bands going where no band has gone before? All the labels have jumped on a given bandwagon, trying to recreate success instead of nurturing new talent and new ideas.... and new music!

Or.. (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250578)

Perhaps no good music has been released. I mean come on, how many rappers do you need with gold teeth rapping about riding on Dubs in their Escalade. After a while, it all sounds the same.

.44% (1)

dosle (794546) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250582)

Why does the industry need to explain a negative loss of half a percent? It seems like the only time you AREN'T hearing from the industry is if they are in the green. What a bunch of cry babies.

Nothing New (1)

dduardo (592868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250588)

I've had my fair share of downloading this year but by this time there is nothing new that interests me. I'm waiting for the new stuff next year.

Nothing old either (4, Insightful)

kherr (602366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250705)

I bet I only find about 40% of the stuff I'm looking for on iTunes Music Store. I want to get a lot of music I grew up listening to but is not available on CD or online. Why don't these dimwit music labels put all of their back catalogs online? They sit on piles and piles of music that, if made available, would earn them money. Unlike pressing and shipping CDs, getting them online is a one-time cost that will easily be made up in sales.

It's more like (2, Interesting)

Solr_Flare (844465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250589)

The music industry's latest antics combined with their rediculously high pricing schemes(and wanting to raise them even more) that is hurting them, not Apple. If anything, Apple has helped by keeping the music industry *in check*. If they hadn't then we'd all be paying $3 to $5 a song by now and legal filesharing would be totally dead.

This piece comes off more as a paid attempt by the music industry to weaken Apple's position and power. Anyone who has been following the news knows that there is a bit of a mini-power struggle going on between Apple, who wants to keep things affordable, and the music industry. While I certainly think Apple could do better than they have been, at least they are thinking ahead and pushing in the direction music and consumer tastes are moving towards instead of clinging to the past model like the RIAA has, which has done nothing but hurt them the last 10 years.

out of context (0)

satsuke (263225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250590)

"According to Nielsen SoundScan, average weekly download sales as of Nov. 27 fell 0.44% vs. the third quarter."

Has it occured to anyone that .44% is statistically insignificant, taken by itself?

several of my relatives are getting ipods(or like) for xmas, and the edict from their parents is legal downloads only.

Not to play to the audience, but you'd think the industry types would be reading the writing on the wall. Better talent / selection / prices = higher units moving = higher profits.

It's very rare anymore I see / hear something I WANT to buy, let alone take a chance on via CD or download.

The obvious solution... (3, Funny)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250593)

Is to let the RIAA have their way with tiered pricing.. Obviously, if new songs aren't being bought at $.99, they will be purchased in droves at $2.99 for that hit new single...

I love statistics out of context. (5, Insightful)

Ara (15000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250595)

Or, heaven forbid, there might be some people buying multiple iPods...

For example, over the course of the product, I've owned 4 different iPods. Apparently this means that my online music buying should have quadrupled, which it did not.

Thus, the link between iPod sales and buying music online is not directly proportional.

'Tis The Season (1)

barchibald (207846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250597)

Its just not fun to buy music as a gift when its just "the bits". The real question is what will purchases be like _after_ the holiday season when people are indeed filling up their new iPods.

Christ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250600)

"OHno, people are actually using the music they already own on CDs to put on their iPods!" ... "Surely it is because of music piracy because everyone needs new music ALL the time, plus we really have so many quality products out to choose from"

This has been an "Inside the 'brain' of a record company exec'-production.

Confused? (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250606)

I thought the iPod would play unrestricted MP3s? What is stopping anyone from buying an MP3 from Rhapsody,, or anywhere else from putting them on their iPod? How is this holding back the *music* industry?

I can see how it is holding back the portable music player industry, since they can't access iTunes, but they are direct competitors to Apple in the hardware arena. Apple made it easier to get to their service with their software, but that is the name of the game.

[For the unenlightened, the rules DO change if you are a convicted monopolist [] .]


In other news... (5, Funny)

shr3k (451065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250609)

In other news, the RIAA and major music industry conglomerates have announced new terms for customers purchasing and listening to their members' music.

"All people do with their CDs and iPods is listen to them. People think that they don't have to pay anything else beyond the initial purchase price. But what they don't understand is that they need to pay royalties every time they listen to them," said RIAA spokesman, Bob Degalhart. "Every song you play on your stereo or iPod should require some form of small micropayment to us for the right to even play that music. Everyone should realize that purchasing the music is only the first of many steps."

The RIAA and the industry plans to push legislation to require all stereo equipment, MP3 players, and hearing aids be fitted with special software that is capable of completing micropayment transaction per listen. Industry member Sony says that it has special software available for installation on home PCs for this purpose and plans to deploy it in the near future.

It seems to me.... (4, Insightful)

Big Boss (7354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250611)

That there is one very compelling reason NOT to buy legal downloads. DRM. No, not for the tinfoil hat reasons, but for one very simple one: interoperability. I can't take my DRMed iTunes AAC file and play it with my MP3-CD car radio. I can't play it via HMO on my TiVo. I can't play it in any other portable device. While I do own an iPod, I also own other devices that I listen to music on. Those can't play AAC, let alone DRM AAC. And I'm not even going to get into WMA-DRM.

Burning it to CDA and re-ripping it doesn't count. It's annoying and drops all the metadata, in addition to the transcoding quality loss. If they want to sell me music, it MUST be in a non-DRM format that I can use on ALL of my devices, MP3 for example. If they refuse, I'll take my money/time elsewhere. Indy, filesharing, certain russian sites, etc.. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'd be happy to pay $1/song, for high-quality (LAME-Standard minimum) MP3 or FLAC audio files. Hell, let me pick the format and bitrate and charge me a little more for the bandwidth for the higher filesizes. Oh, wait, someone else allready does that.....

Ass backwards assesment (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250624)

If the #1 (by far) player uses a specific format to play DRM'ed songs, then wouldn't it be the music stores who don't use that format who are holding back sales? I don't see how everyone jumping on board the MS bandwagon (which doesn't work with iPods) is Apple holding back the music industry.

Fact is people buy iPods.

Fact is iPods won't play MS based DRM'ed music.

Fact is if you want to sell songs that play on iPods, it's open formats or AAC.

Unless you're dealing with #3 in a constructive manner, you're the ones holding back music sales.

Won't buy from ITMS because the quality is poor (3, Interesting)

Thumpnugget (142707) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250627)

Everything on my iPod is either 224 or 192kbps VBR mp3s ripped with LAME. I can even tell the difference between that and source and am considering reripping all my CDs to a lossless format, which I am NOT looking forward to, as I have over 1000 CDs.

The 128kbps AAC files from the ITMS don't do it for me. They sound highly compressed and you can occasionally here aural artifacts in the high-end, like flanging in the cymbal washes. It's a lot worse with 128kbps mp3s, for sure, but the quality just isn't high enough for me to even spend a dollar there.

Re:Won't buy from ITMS because the quality is poor (1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250733)

fortunatly, most people don't listen to music in a completly silent room that is sound proof.

Most people have background noice the drones out the ends. Of course, I am sure your hearing is 30% above normel, and therefore can hear the difference.

Blame Apple (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250628)

It couldn't have anything to do with the Music industry itself, huh?

Blame P2P.
Blame customers.
Blame industry partners.

Blame anyone but those truly responsible for the success of the music industry

Not like this is new behavior for the RIAA & Co.

I blame Apple, Google and Wikipedia (1)

dmoen (88623) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250638)

Apple is clearly holding back the music industry by preventing them from charging $10 for a Britney Spears single. Likewise, through their blatant disregard for copyright (Google has stored copies of billions of copyrighted web pages in their index without obtaining permission from each copyright holder), Google has created an atmosphere of disrespect for copyright itself, which harms the music industry. Finally, Wikipedia, by distributing blatant propaganda like this page here [] , is actively trying to bring down the music industry.

Oh, wait. Was the parent article a troll? Never mind.

Doug Moen

has no one considered... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250640)'s the Holiday season and CDs are ridiculously easy gifts to give?

How about comparing individual song sales to CD sales for the period?

Correlation is not causation. (4, Funny)

Irvu (248207) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250645)

The author is saying a) We predicted that we should be making X sales this week, and b) we are not. Therefore Apple is to blame, as are the people who keep choosing to not buy the overpriced "music".

Can you spot the logical flaw?

Last week I predicted the following:
a) I would immediately win a hundred bojillion dollars in the lottery.
b) The most beautiful women in the world would gather around me to sing my praises.

None of that has happened so far, and seeing as how b is dependent upon a (lets not kid ourselves, I'd have to buy plane tickets for all of them to fly here), we should focus on a. A requires me doing things like buying lottery tickets, and the lottery having that kind of money, neither of which is the case. Therefore there is only one inescapable explanation: It's all the lottery people's fault. They're 'holding me back'. They should have set the pot that high, given me a free ticket, and then changed the rules so that only I would win.

I love this game!

The Songs are Gravy, not Blades (2, Insightful)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250646)

A competitor (I think it was Napster) put it well when they pointed out that using iTunes it would cost $10,000 to fill up a 10,000 song iPod. No one has ever expected the consumers to buy their music exclusively online. Apple debuted the iPod two years before the music store was online. They assumed that consumers would fill up their iPods with music extracted from their own CD collection and downloaded from P2P networks. Notice that there was not a significant price restructuring in the iPod line when the music store went live. In other words, the iPod is not a razor and the songs are not blades in Apple's business model, so dropping %.44 will probably not even make them balk.

What the...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250659)

"average weekly download sales as of Nov. 27 fell 0.44% vs. the third quarter"

Wow, a whopping ZERO point FOUR FOUR percent. That's gotta hurt. *snicker*

...Or maybe more people are buying CDs for Christmas since they're a lot easier to wrap up and give people instead of a disc full of downloaded data.

It's DRM thats holding back the music industry (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14250662)

I always buy CDs and then rip them to mp3. I'll also never buy anything from an online music store if it comes bundled with DRM. I won't knowingly buy copy protected CDs either. I'm sure i'm not the only one.

Perhaps its about time the music companies realised that people want to be able to do as they like with the music they've bought and paid for.

It's not Apple thats holding back the music industry... its the music industry thats holding themselves back with their insane protection schemes.

0.44%!? (3, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250672)

0.44%!? That's less than 1%, hot damn the world's rebeling against music! That's like.. DOOMED!

Totally ignore the fact that Christmas is comming up and people stop spending money on what they want and start saving for others, very often presents arn't music so the money goes else where.

Maybe if it wasn't DRM protected I'd buy more... (1)

alteridem (46954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250706)

Actually, I have been buying a ton of online music since I bought my iPod, but I don't particularily like it being DRM protected and costing more than going out and buying the CD's, so I buy from which lets you choose the format and compression, is not protected so I can do what I want with it AND costs about $1 an album. It is out of Russia and I doubt that the record companies are getting much of a cut out of it, but I am sick of being ripped off by them.

The music companies treat me like a criminal by adding copy protection to their CDs so that I can't listen to them as I want. They rip me off by charging $.99 / song for music that I can only listen to in limited ways. It is no wonder that my CD collection of about 500 CDs hasn't been growning recently, they have drivin me away...

But hey, I'm preaching to the choir here aren't I? :D

Sorry RIAA... (4, Insightful)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250707)

I'm sorry, but I've stopped purchasing RIAA encumbered music. There's plenty out there, and I don't need to support greedy corporations who don't understand their customer wants or needs. It only took a few years, but I finally caught that the RIAA is not interested in making sure that I remain a customer, and I've complied by taking my business elsewhere. Magnatune, Positron Records, Metropolis Records... they all get it. Soon other companies will understand that the problem isn't their customers (who want to support them), but the marginalized trade group cartels that are holding them back. Until this happens, my cash goes elsewhere.

Sorry, RIAA... you had your chance.

and (4, Insightful)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250708)

I'm sure draconian cd prices and lousy pop music have nothing to do with a decrease in sales.

Not in my household (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250720)

My lady and I have a tendency to purchase a LOT of music -- we've filled a few 400 disc changers in the past before going with a wholehouse MP3 distribution system.

Our reasons for buying less music is:

1. Dislike of Sony and the RIAA -- where we used to buy 3-4 CDs a week at Borders, we're lucky to buy even 1 a month because of their strongarm tactics. Until Borders starts carrying the popular indie bands in their area, we won't buy CDs. Some indie bands in our area have sold 2000+ CDs privately without record store support. If they expect to be part of my community, they better do more research.

2. Bigger support of the ma-and-pa brick and mortars. As our retail stores that we own lose business to the dotcoms and the super stores, we've found that by supporting other locally owned shops, we see more locally employed customers at our stores. It is the ultimate "outsourcing" to see your community spending money outside of the community to save on sales tax and maybe a 5% difference in price beyond that. 14% is still a huge savings, all from government coercion.

3. Income. Our income this year is about double the last 3, but our income in the last 6 months is down over 70%. I've been putting more of my income into real savings (gold, silver, property) to weather to storm ahead. I've also expanded my market from just-the-Midwest to the entire world, and I expect it will take a year or two to get back to my first half of 2005 income levels.

4. Quality. The quality of the mass produced records is terrible. I can't listen to the top 40 record stations at all -- every vocalist is enhanced, delay and reverb is worse than the 80s, and the compression destroys any fidelity that might have made it through the overproduction period. Garbage in, garbage out, garbage unbought.

5. Promotion. I don't feel any desire to pay $50 to see a concert of 3 bands I barely know. The indie scene is usually $6 to $12, I see 2 amazing bands and 3 new bands cutting their teeth. $2 beer, $4 calls instead of the big shows where we paid $14 for a drink recently ($110 per ticket). Without cheap promotion the records won't sell.

6. Collusion. Try to get tickets today to any popular show. The rules governing ticket scalping are created specifically to take care of the few scalpers who are licensed by the local government. It has made shows nearly impossible to attend to. One popular show we were willing to pay $60 per ticket for was sold almost entirely to 3 ticket scalpers.

7. No desire. There are so many new ways to be entertained (due to the web) that music-on-CD just won't cut it anymore. I've been talking to a local show producer who is finding better ways to stream live shows to the web in a high quality, high fidelity, well produced show. I can't wait for his work to come to fruition.

Consumers like the solid product in the hand.. (1)

kiwioddBall (646813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250726)

I think technically oriented people may prefer online downloads, but I still prefer to go down to the local record shop and buy a CD, along with the artwork, bonus DVD's etc. I can play that in my car stereo, and on my home stereo (without wireless links etc).

When it comes to my iPod, I'll rip the CD I have.

That, or the quality of the music being produced is slipping, or is being aimed at markets that don't have a propensity to buy iPods.

Maybe I'm old school (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250771)

But I'd still rather have a CD than download directly from iTunes. Then I can move my material from device to device as the media changes.

It's mp3 this year but who knows what audio format is coming around next year? Are you going to be able to play your iTunes downloads 10 years from now?

I'm glad Apple is doing well with iTunes, but it's just not for me. I want a disk. I want a disk I can rip to the PC and portable device of my choosing whether it's on Windows, OSX or Linux. And I especially want to be able to find something that can still play that CD 10 years from now.

no more promotions (1)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250777)

In large part because the novelty has worn off, but I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that there don't seem to be any more promotions going on. When Pepsi was giving away iTunes downloads with their drinks, my brother got over 200 free songs (others gave him their caps, he didn't drink that much soda). Of course, you could only use 5 cap codes per day, so if he found a 6th song to download in one day, instead of waiting another day, he'd simply buy the last song. He got 200 free songs, and paid for about 20. Since the promotion is now over, he never even thinks to look at iTunes. The novelty is gone and so is the incentive. A lot of products go through huge sales initially, and once the novelty wears off, the successfull products are the ones that consumers actually want, not what they are told to want (since they're no longer being told to want it)

right (2, Insightful)

mr_tommy (619972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250779)

Forgive me - the main quote for the start of this story comes from Apple's direct competitor, Napster, and is followed up by more in-partiality by one from Real!? It doesn't take long to decide exactly how much credibility to give this piece...
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