The E.U. is having problems with Apple’s music business practices again. This time it’s about the pricing of identical content across Europe and the varied availability of content by country. It seems they care about consumers and preserving the consumer’s options in that part of the world. So far.
I’m aware, however, of how difficult it must be for Apple dealing with not only varying levels of consumer protection while doing business in different areas of our world, but while also juggling the wide range of mandatory, paranoid restrictions imposed upon them by the major distributors of music. It’s got to be a hard juggling act. So far, they seem to be doing fairly well.
But I’ve been puzzled by one aspect of iTunes many have overlooked. Why is it that almost any podcast can be distributed for free through apple’s lovely system but the same is not true for musical recording artists who wish to either give their music out for free or offer their profits to charity?
I know of two artists who have attempted many times to get their music on iTunes, without success. Why? Because they do not sell their music. That’s it. Apple requires that musical recording artists be on at least an indie label tracked by soundscan in order to be carried on iTunes. What about artists who wish ONLY to give their music out for free, for whatever reason?
Why would anyone want to give their music out for free? Well, some could do it for reasons of protest or activism. Others may just do it for fun and feel that what they are doing is far to experimental or odd for commercial consumption, so why try? Whatever the reason, what is Apple’s? Clearly podcasting is a-ok when it comes to free distribution. So why not music? Perhaps it’s lack of demand? One artist (who shall go un-named so as to not ruin anything for them in this “area”) has received much college and worldwide radio airplay and has had their first album downloaded over 100,000 times (that they can verify through bittorrent only) yet they are still rejected by iTunes. What’s the reason in that case? They even offered to let apple sell their music at an extremely reduced rate and let apple keep the proceeds or donate them to charity and never even received a response. So what’s the excuse then? Why must they sell physical CDs in order to be a part of iTunes?
They seem to love the idea of free or cheap content, as long as it’s a tease for an additional purchase. I’m not saying Apple should give their bandwidth out for free. But I am saying that artists should not be forced into commercialism in order to be distributed on the largest music retailer. There should be an option available. Perhaps sales could be stored in an advertising fund for the band. Imagine how many small town bands would love the chance just to be heard, to be discovered. The music business is far too sickly to be refusing such medicine, refusing the chance at finding the next genius hiding in Ohio or Sao Paulo. They should be begging for such things, not trying to block or restrict them. Then again, usually advice should be given only to the deserving.