New York Times on the iTunes Music Store

Posted by Pierre Igot in: iTunes, Music, Technology
May 30th, 2003 • 5:53 pm

The New York Times has a good recap (dated May 29) of the current situation regarding Apple’s iTunes Music Store in a column by Neil Strauss entitled “Apple Finds the Future for Online Music Sales“.

It’s cautiously optimistic in tone and provides various interesting viewpoints. The impression that one gets out of the current situation is that there is immense potential, and that Apple is the first company to tap INTO it in a significant fashion.

Ultimate success is still dependent on many unknowns, but there is hope. The about-face regarding iTunes’ music sharing feature is hardly surprising. The essential thing for a technology company such as Apple is to win over consumers not by crippling its software, but by making legitimate ways to use the technology so easy and straightforward and pleasant that illegal uses will be relegated to the fringes.

The current problem is that, on the net, these “fringes” can take up quite a bit of space in the media consciousness and lead to a distorted view of what is actually going on. There will always be crackers that are able to develop software that circumvents restrictions, no matter how great they are. But the media doesn’t necessarily have to give them more significance than they actually have in the big picture. Of course, seeing the big picture is always a bit of a problem with the media, and the recording industry is taking advantage of the confusion to try and perpetuate myths and hamper progress.

Ultimately, however, I don’t see how legitimate, user-friendly online music services can fail to develop. It’s just so obvious that the technology is there, and it’s not going away. The RIAA is going to have to get used to it — or disappear altogether, which looks like the more likely option at this stage.

Meanwhile, I am stuck with my pokey modem connection here in rural Canada, and will probably continue to buy CDs for quite a while. I still think that there is a market for online retailers of custom-made CDs (or DVD-Audio or SACD) to ship by mail, for audiophiles and people with limited access like me. After all, the dream of universal ultra-high-speed access to the net is still decades away. Even with today’s cable modems or DSL connections, downloading a DVD- or SACD-quality recording would take far too long and cost too much.

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