And No Slowdown In Sight (3/1/05)

Folks, just a quick update on yesterday's whole spiel about the recording industry trying to hike prices at the iTunes Music Store: as it turns out, the major labels aren't entirely evil after all. No, honestly! New evidence has come to light which reveals that they're only about half evil, and half incomprehensibly brick-stupid. Faithful viewer mrmgraphics dug up an extended version of that Financial Times article we cited yesterday, which goes a little deeper into the labels' motives for wanting to raise prices for song downloads: "The efforts to raise prices appear in part to reflect frustration over Apple's wildly successful music strategy."

Yes, folks, the labels are apparently frustrated because Apple's doing far too well. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting: "That darn Apple is selling too many songs! What on earth are we going to do with hundreds of millions of dollars in no-overhead, 100 percent pure profit? We have to put a stop to this, and fast-- quick, let's raise prices and send all those iTMS customers scurrying back to BitTorrent!" It's a veritable masterstroke of business strategy, to be sure. On top of that, check out the attitude of one "industry insider": "Our music is not something to be given away to sell iPods." Because, see, it's a terrible idea to add millions of people walking around out there with new, empty iPods just itching to fill 'em up with more music. So the labels are making 65 cents per song, spending absolutely zilch on production and distribution, and simultaneously creating demand for more music sales? Clearly this has got to stop right now.

Well, since they're so averse to free money and keeping music lovers happy, the labels must be positively aghast at the latest iTMS sales milestone. That's right, people, it's only been five weeks since the last time we did this, but it's that time again already: faithful viewer Jef Van der Voort tipped us off to an Apple press release celebrating the sale of the 300 millionth song at the iTMS. (It also mentions that the new all-star cover of the Beatles song "Across the Universe," available only via the iTMS with all proceeds going to tsunami survivors, "debuted as number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart," which apparently qualifies it as "the most successful exclusive digital track ever in its first week of release." Take that, Apple Records!)

Interestingly, this time around Apple decided not to do the math and tell us how many songs per day the iTMS now sells. But have no fear, because faithful viewer and semi-official AtAT iTMS Milestone Watchdog Scott Naness is on the job as usual, and he notes that, despite all sales since the 250 millionth having occurred after the post-holiday rush, the iTMS sell-through rate is still increasing. Last time around Apple had sold an average of 1,250,000 songs per day, and since January 24th, that figure has risen to 1,351,351. That's roughly six million dollars of pure profit for the major labels each and every week, all without them having to lift a finger; assuming zero growth (yeah, right), that means the majors are raking in enough from the iTMS to build a bionic man every week. In a couple of months they can have one heck of a baseball team.

Needless to say, that much free money-- with no iTMS slowdown in sight-- must have the labels practically apoplectic by now. We figure we're looking at an imminent industry-mandated price hike to, say, $34.99 per song download and $499.99 per album in order to slam the brakes on this runaway profit train and get consumers downloading music illegally again, the way God intended. That way the labels can get back to complaining about how piracy is killing CD sales, and then make its money by suing twelve-year-old KaZaA users instead. After all, isn't that what music is all about?

SceneLink (5197)
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The above scene was taken from the 3/1/05 episode:

March 1, 2005: A former Apple exec sues the company for wrongful termination-- let the airing of grievances commence! Meanwhile, evidence reveals some rumored-but-missing Apple features really were planned after all, and the major record labels worry about the iTunes Music Store getting too popular, even as Apple announces that it's just sold its 300 millionth song...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 5195: Wow, It Wasn't A Dud After All (3/1/05)   The truth will out! Remember last November when we killed some time wondering about a couple of mysterious departures by Apple executives? Probably not, since it wasn't exactly an A-list plot twist; after all, people join and leave big companies all the time...

  • 5196: It's All Really Real-- Really (3/1/05)   Does it ever bug you when Apple introduces new products that fall short of their rumored capabilities and features? We know, we know-- it's completely irrational to blame Apple for not living up to a standard it never announced in the first place and that's based entirely on unfounded rumor and speculation...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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