iTunes Sales up Sharply

By Jon Newton 12/29/05

There's a story in the Financial Times, one of Britain's most reputable and influential newspapers, which gives a completely distorted impression of what's happening in the world of online music.

It could almost have been written by one or other of the Big Four record labels' many and various PR-cum-enforcement units such as the RIAA, IFPI or BPI.

Reading it, one gets the impression there's a successful, busy corporate music downloading sector when in fact, the exact opposite is true.

Jon Newton

There is as yet no viable corporate music digital music sales business, a reality that's due: A) to the fact the Big Four are wholesaling grossly overpriced digital music files to the likes of Napster and Apple's iTunes, forcing them to try to retail the tracks for $1 and more each, depending on which country they’re operating from; and; and, B) that they're trying to sue consumers into buying these same files.

However, online music lovers are not, for the most part, having any because they're simply not willing to pay dollars for files which are worth only cents.

Rubbing in the reality, New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer has issued subpoenas to Sony BMG, Warner Music, EMI Group PLC and Vivendi Universal to, "discover whether the industry has broken any laws regarding the wholesale pricing of digital music downloads," says Forbes, interestingly quoting the Financial Times.

"According to figures from Hitwise, the online intelligence company, visits to music download sites, such as Apple’s iTunes Music Store, saw a 50 per cent increase between December 24 and 25," says the FT.

But a 50% increase over what? Of the various corporate sites supplied by the Big Four, only iTunes can be said to be functional, and it doesn't really qualify as a dedicated music store. Rather, it's an iPod promotional site.

The FT is reporting, "downloads already exceed 650,000 and may pass the 1m mark for the first time this holiday season". Perhaps. But against that, well over one billion files move around the p2p networks not every year, but every month.

Not much more than a year ago, everything the music industry cared to serve up was repeated almost verbatim in the mainstream print and electronic media just as though it was reliable information from reputable sources.

However, with the Sony BMG DRM spyware debacle still echoing loudly, and with major elements of the mainstream media beginning to take notice of the many glaring disparities between what the labels claim and what's actually happening, things are changing, and fast.

A year ago, blogs were just beginning to take root. Today, they're firmly locked in as a major communications force, allowing people to exchange unspun versions of events faster than the traditional media can field reports based wholly and solely on self-serving data supplied by the industry.

Meanwhile, Patti Santangelo is the first of 17,000 RIAA sue 'em all victims to actively challenge the Big Four. Defending herself, she'll appear before a jury and the music industry will be compelled by the same laws it's been abusing to publicly explain itself and its actions, past and present.

It'll be interesting.

Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

Other MP3 stories:
Will The DOJ Ever Investigate Sony?
For Every 3 iPods, Creative Sells 1 MP3 Player
Ipsos-Reid: Only 2% of Consumers Care About Legal Issues With Downloading Music


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