Commentary Technology

So Much To Say

“Open up my head and let me out.” Do I have that song quote right? I’m a bit to sleepy at the moment to go look it up. Quite a bit has been going on lately, and I haven’t had much time to post about any of it.

One of the more interesting tidbits lately has been some quotes attributed to Edgar Bronfman, Jr. of Warner Music Group where he attacks Apple’s fixed pricing structure in the iTunes Music Store, and he claims right to a chunk of Apple’s profit margins on the iPod because people buy the iPod to carry music they distribute. Interesting thoughts – however, I think this guy is only managing to confirm Steve Jobs comments about “greedy” record executives.

First, let’s look at the pricing structure controversy. I agree with Mr. Bronfman completely on this. Charging $0.99 for every song is unfair. Prices should cap at $0.99/song for premium songs, and perhaps we can set a basement price of $0.49 for less popular material with prices in between the two limits for various material. That sound fair, right? Oh, you want to charge more for the popular tunes, even in 128 kbps encoding. Yeah, that’s just greedy.

(By the way, I know Apple is responsible for the encoding quality of the songs downloaded from the iTunes Music Store, but I do think is should still be a factor in the price. If they start supporting 256 kbps or more, then we’ll talk.)

Now let’s examine the second point: The record labels deserve a cut of iPod sales. If we follow this reasoning, every publisher or developer that creates titles for the Macintosh deserve a percentage of every computer Apple sells. The same goes for Miscrosoft and Windows software. After all, who would buy a computer that runs no software? Every network and production studio should get a cut of every television sold. Every radio station should get a cut of every stereo sold. Every web site should get kickback from internet subscriptions.

I’m sorry, record labels are not special and do not deserve special treatment. They deserve no cut of the iPod pie any more than I deserve a cut of AOL’s profits. Verdict: Greed.

I love music. I love listening to a wide variety of music from Bach to Bob Dylan, the Beatles to Dave Matthews to Philip Glass. However, it’s sad to see the powers over such a worthwhile medium are so much more concerned with lining their pockets thatn they are the fair treatment of the consumers that support them. Then again, that really is one of the biggest weaknesses of the United States in general: “My money before your welfare.”

I know Apple has its own agenda, and it may be playing cards that just make the record labels take the bad PR when iTunes Music Store prices rise, but I hope Steve Jobs rakes people like Mr. Bronfram across as many coals as he can before relenting. There, end soap box rant.

Wow, I actually started this post feeling all calm and serene, and now I’m all in a huff. That means I don’t even want to start addressing these other comments from our (edit: sorry, Finland’s) beloved record industry! ; )