Tuesday, November 08, 2005

iTunes DJ

At the launch of the Apple's Music Store (iTMS) in 2003, Steve Jobs said it would bring an end to the illegal downloading of music. Well it certainly has put a big dent in this "problem" and has put some extra pennies in the pockets of the poor downtrodden multi-national music companies, but one thing the music industry forgets is that the way we, the public, get to find great new music is by sharing. Just do this little test: the last album you bought from an artist that's new to your collection, where did you hear it first? I bet a friend lent it (even copied it) or played it to you! And if you really like this new great find you'll go out and buy everything else the artist has made (plus replacing the illegal copy) eventually. We love to share music, either as musicians or listeners: music is a social thing. So the attempt to everything and stop us sharing music with our friends, will actually kill sales.

This is a problem that & I have discussed on and off for a while now. There has been a move to mass journal-ism through blogging and the opportunity for any one to become a 'radio' journalist thanks to . What we think could replace P2P music file sharing is the opportunity for anyone to become a radio DJ and broadcast their own radio station.

iTunes, the most widely used computer based music player, already lets you share your library of music on your local network, and originally across the Internet - until the music industry complained. So why not have a version of iTunes in which you can create a streaming playlist with the opportunity to mix tracks and create your own intros & links - perhaps through integration with GarageBand. As this is really for sharing with your friends, then the number of concurrent users could be limited - upload bandwidth on most broadband connections would also be a limiting factor.

To stop the record industry from complaining that this is the same as P2P file sharing, this software should not be a free upgrade and should include a limited broadcast license fee that Apple could forward to the appropriate local authority or organisation that redistributes the monies collected to the artists - Apple already make payments to record companies for songs sold on iTMS . Playlist details can be gathered to aid the redistribution of the fees to the artists who's music has been played. If you are creating your own music and broadcasting it you could make money as well!

So. what does iTunes DJ do for the interested parties:

  • Anyone can creatively mix, programme and broadcast music.
  • Apple can monetize an upgrade path for a product that currently has no upgrade options.
  • A license fee (perhaps annually) will ensure that the songwriters and performers are duly compensated for the use of their work
  • This could be a easy route for unsigned individuals & bands to broadcast their own music.

As ever, the fly in the ointment will be the music executives of the large companies and what fee they will demand, but Apple is probably the only company that could convince them that this is a good idea.

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