I’ve been reading about Apple’s iTunes Music Store and think they got it half-way correct — or maybe more accurately, 1/3 correct.
Buying songs you know and love for $0.99 is perfect if you want to burn discs of current favourites. And Apple seems to have “fixed” most of what was wrong with earlier online download sites. I think this will be a hit — especially when they get the Windows version live — which they realistically need to do to make this work.
But what happens if you’ve heard that Miles Davis is really cool but you don’t know anything about him? Well, for about $10 a month, a subscription to listen.com let’s you listen to most every album miles ever recorded. You can then make your decision about what songs you’d like to own forever (if any) and decide to download those for 99 cents (via Apple for example).
And sometimes you just want music on in the background — music in a specific genre or to match a particular mode. You might want classical in the background for a brunch, 70s pop songs while you clean the house, or ambient “chill” for late night surfing sessions. In these cases you’re less interested in the actual performers than the feeling the music induces in you or your guests.
So people have at least three goals with music: to own it, to explore it, and to use it to augment other tasks. The iTunes Music Store appears to do an admirable job of the first goal, but leaves the other two out in the cold.
The “home run” in online music will be a service that combines cheap downloads (I think the magic number will be 10 cents a track, not a buck), music on demand from a vast library of diverse music styles, and high-quality commercial free “radio” that offers songs to match hundreds of genres, moods and situational settings.