There was an article this weekend brought to my attention, about iTunes, that I thought perfectly explained the problems with the platform. The article is called ITunes Music Store. Facelift for a Corrupt Society. I definitely recommend checking it out.
Of course, if you do this research yourself, or you’re an artist, you will or have found the same results, but if that’s not the case, his main points against iTunes are that it’s too expensive, there is poor audio quality, and they take too high of a cut from sales. (horrendous paraphrase..apologies)
For me, I think one of these things alone would be enough to beg for a better alternative, but in traditional Fortune 500 style, they seem to be oblivious to that opinion, and every corner seems to be deliberately cut, to make the company, not the consumer or the producer, come out on top.
Even more messed up, is that iTunes is an online service. Sure it costs money to maintain and update, but not nearly what it costs to actually produce the music that has made it so successful, in terms of both the time and money the artists spend. In terms of physical work, iTunes really just sits there, while the people who actually made the products and did the work, get screwed out of fair earnings. This to me, is low, especially for Apple.
What is actually more inconceivable to me, is that none of the “alternatives” to iTunes seem to address these main issues any differently. They may slightly change their terms, or their methods, but the end result is always the same. (And I have studied just about all of them, and the first thing I do is look at how they handle issues like these.)
Even if there is some kind of subscription that is fair for the fans and the artists, and the artists receive a big percentage of sales, there is no promotion for the artists, and no efficient way of searching, or finding good music, for fans, so the artists can’t take advantage of these apparent pros of the service.
If you ask me, unless you’re an independent or established artist who understands these problems, and wants to actually fix them from a consumer-producer stand point, you should not even be in the business of creating an alternative to iTunes, because you do not understand the market, and your model will eventually fail, just like iTunes will.
The problem is there really are no alternatives right now. I actually designed Beat-Play for this specific reason.
As an independent artist, what use is my music, however amazing it may be, if the tools I use to distribute it degrade the sound, force a set price on me and my fans, and then take a huge cut? What is all of my time and sweat and much needed food money worth as an independent musician today? With existing services, it is impossible to even conceive a way in which I am successful. Even if I become huge and sell a lot, it will only be at high expense, and my earnings won’t be as much as they should be.
Of course, the other problem not even addressed by the article, that makes iTunes’ unfair cut even worse, is that there’s no promotion. And everything basically boils down to promotion. We need something cheap and effective, which the internet is usually capable of achieving, but the services out now are not set up to take advantage of that fact.
None of the big music sites out do ANYTHING to actually promote your music. They are all the same. You have a myspace-like landing page with your music on it, and your videos, and events, and everything you need…but then there’s no way for anybody to find it without already knowing who you are, or you spamming everybody. How do you find new fans?
The article talks about how the music played on the radio is where 85% of music sales on iTunes comes from. That is simply because the radio is the best form of promotion right now. What makes it the best is that it just plays music. You don’t have to search for it, it just plays..and one of the things it just plays, is new music.
When you hear a song play, you can tell if you like it or not, but if you’re looking at links to a million different artist’s music, how do you know? and is it worth the risk to click? Chances are you won’t even make it to the playing stage, the way the web organizes music right now, and if no one plays your music, how can they know if they like it or not? Beat-Play uses these principles to construct a working solution.
The only web tools presently out that are close to solving this are the song recommendation engines like Pandora and Last.fm, but even they are limited, and most of the time, the music on those services is the same stuff on the radio, or that once was mainstream, so none of the other music that gets made outside of that scope is still really heard at all, or at least certainly not mass distributed throughout the public..despite it probably making up 85% of the music actually made(not exact figure at all.)
Beat-Play has addressed this as a central pillar of our model. I say this not to plug Beat-Play so much, but so you can understand what Beat-Play really is, and why it is. There is such a big need for it, and despite all of the demand for an alternative like Beat-Play, one still does not exist. (until May!)
This is one of the strangest phenomena I have ever encountered. That there can be so many obvious problems with the current model, and NO one has stepped up and actually attempted to solve any of them. It feels like the people who could actually solve the problems are too busy hyping up the fact that “nobody has found a solution yet.” and trying to make it seem like they are impossible problems to fix. Instead of everyone running around like a decapitated chicken, if we examine the problems closely, we will actually find solutions. I know, because I found solutions.
I found a solution to piracy, to ineffective, expensive or unfair artist promotion, to decreased music sales, to artist un-organization, and fan acquisition consistency. I can honestly say that my model, Beat-Play, solves every single problem associated with the music industry today…and did I say that includes PIRACY…the supposedly unsolvable problem.
I’m only 21 years old! If I have found a solution, either 2 things are happening. 1. The people trying are incompetent, which I do not believe, or 2. Nobody is trying, on purpose, and in fact, they may even be trying to make people more uncertain and confused about the problems, so they can continue exploiting people as a result.
This is a crime if you ask me, but it’s one we can only fight by simply creating our own alternative, and getting all independent artists, not yet controlled by a major label, supporting this alternative. If you want to learn more about how Beat-Play can solve piracy, and can help independent artists actually earn money from their music, by promoting in revolutionary ways, you can check out the About section of this blog, and if you still have questions, leave a comment below. I do not go in depth in this article because of regular readers who may already understand Beat-Play.
In closing, there are many problems still present with internet models like iTunes right now, yes..but don’t worry, it gets better.
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC