Globe and Mail article mentions iTunes in Canada

Posted by Pierre Igot in: iTunes, Music, Technology
July 14th, 2003 • 10:27 pm

As a Mac user located in Canada, I was pleased to read in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail that the iTunes Music Store will be coming to Canada “in the fall,” once outstanding legal issues with the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) are resolved.

It was nice to see a picture of an Apple product—the iTunes Music Store in this case—on the front page of the newspaper’s “Report on Business” section, and another one of the iPod next to the continuation of the article inside. This doesn’t happen very often. I was less impressed with the fact that the journalist kept referring to the iTunes Music Store as “iTunes” — although the interface of the service is a bit confusing in that respect.

I was pleased to see the article remind people of how reluctant the movie industry was 20 years ago to embrace the VCR revolution. It’s exactly the same situation.

I was also pleased to note that the statements of Brian Robertson, the president of the CRIA are somewhat more measured than those of his American counterpart at the RIAA:

We are trying to find the balance between education and intimidation, which is the litigation approach,” he said. “We’re still seeing if education is enough here, or whether we need to go to the next step.”

I also like the fact that Robertson mentions the opportunity for record labels to exploit their back catalogue of music, that is essentially gathering dust in a warehouse, as Mr. Robertson puts it. This problem is probably the biggest artistic waste of the 20th century, and I hope that all online music retailers, including Apple, will soon take major steps to address the problem. Right now, there is little sign of it. There are far too many artists in the iTunes Music Store that are only represented by a “Best Of” type of collection, essentially duplicating the selection that’s already available in stores. Music lovers want the artists’ entire catalogue, damnit!

Still, there are several issues that the article fails to mention, including the central issue of what new “business model” will be established online and what the impact will be for artists. It seems quite clear to me that artists deserve and should be getting a much bigger slice of the pie in online music sales. Are there any negociations happening between artists and their record labels in that respect? Is it all happening on a case-by-case basis? One of the most significant conditions guaranteeing that a number of people who share music online will switch from illegal free services to legal stores such as the iTunes Music Store is some kind of clear indication that the money they spend is not mainly used to fatten up the bank accounts of record company executives. This is one of the issues that have made so many people cynical about the recording industry and remorseless about sharing music online for free in the first place.

People want choice, they want to feel that they’re getting their money’s worth, and they want to know that a reasonable amount of their money is going to the people who deserve it the most. it’s all about “fair trade” and authentic artistic value. We still have a long way to go before the recording industry fully recognizes this (if it ever does).

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