Pay More, Get Less, & Like It (2/28/05)
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Look, we all know that some things never change: birds gotta fly, bees gotta buzz, and major record labels gotta act like the spawn of Satan they are. That's just the way of the world. So how is it that we're still somehow surprised that the majors are still trying to raise song prices at the online downloadable music stores? After all, we noted all the way back in April that the labels were trying to charge more for downloadable albums than for their CD counterparts-- despite the lossiness and near-nonexistent cost of production of the download version-- and also planned to boost per-song prices as high as $2.49. So this isn't exactly new territory we're navigating, here; boundless stupidity, limitless greed, and a total lack of respect for the customers are all par for the course when the major labels are concerned.

Maybe we're not so much deep-down incredulous that anyone could really sink to such depths as to try to jack up prices on something that's essentially all profit in the first place, but rather that they could really stay down there in the slime for ten or eleven months without coming up for air. That's purely a gut reaction, of course, since our rational selves are fully aware that record execs breathe slime, and if they ever took a gillful of clean, fresh air, they'd burst into flames. (Fire: the Biblical Cleanser™!) So it's actually no surprise at all that faithful viewer JoeHD40 informs us that, according to the Financial Times, the labels are still trying to put the squeeze on the iTunes Music Store and others to raise their prices.

Understandably, the labels' continued attempt to gouge iTMS customers even more than they already do "has angered Steve Jobs," who must be irked that, after handing the labels what amounts to a giant pile of free money on a plate, he's basically being whined at because said pile isn't quite big enough and doesn't come with a side of fries and a pickle: "Music industry executives said introductory wholesale prices for digital tracks had been set low to stimulate demand, but Apple's success had prompted concern that they may now be too low." So let's see if we've got this straight, here: when download sales increase (to be a whopping 2 percent of total music sales, incidentally), it's because prices must be set too low. But when CD sales decline, is it because prices are set too high? Nope-- it's because of Internet piracy! Well, obviously.

The good news, of course, is that since the iTMS is by far the market leader in a growth industry that represents hundreds of millions of dollars of free money for the labels, Steve presumably has more than a little clout, so if he's not pleased with the push for higher wholesale prices, you can bet he has a thing or two to say about it. And he's managed to stave off higher prices so far (for the most part, anyway-- you may notice a specific iTMS album or two priced a bit higher every once in a while, but it's pretty darn rare), so he's clearly been holding the barbarians at the gate. But the gate can't hold forever, and even Steve's inestimable Reality Distortion Field is of limited use against beings of true evil. (Witness the market share of Windows.) What's worse, if God smites the labels with a biblical plague of boy bands again, we're the ones who have to suffer. Is there no stopping these diabolical thugs?


 
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The above scene was taken from the 2/28/05 episode:

February 28, 2005: Rest in peace, Jef Raskin; it may not have been exactly the revolution you wanted, but you launched a revolution nonetheless. Meanwhile, the major label record companies are once again hoping to raise iTunes Music Store pricing, which has Steve Jobs all in a tizzy, and custom-logo iPods are everywhere, including a Star Wars model coming soon from Skittles...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 5192: Too Few 'F's For This World (2/28/05)   There's no doubt about it: fate has a sick sense of humor. By now you've all heard about the untimely demise of Jef "Two F's Would Be Redundant" Raskin, who was widely credited as the "Father of the Macintosh" for having launched and named Apple's late-'70s project to create a simple and affordable word-processing appliance for the masses...

  • 5194: Logos, Logos Everywhere (2/28/05)   Ah, "special edition" iPods; if you think that black 'n' red U2 dealie with the band's signatures lasered into the back is the only specially-etched 'Pod in existence, you just haven't been paying attention...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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