Details of Apple Computer’s forthcoming online music service begin to emerge

“Apple Computer Inc. is readying to launch an online service that will cut straight to the core of digital music distribution, winning the praise of some record executives who see it is as a weapon against online piracy,” Reuters reports.

“Music executives who have seen Apple’s upcoming service said it is simple to use, offers single songs from a deep catalog and — unlike Kazaa and the other pirate services that have picked up where the now-defunct Napster left off — it pays royalties to the troubled record industry,” says Reuters.

According to Reuters, “Apple’s new service will feature songs from all five major record labels, link with its iTunes music software and allow for easy downloading to the iPod, Apples popular digital music player, people familiar with the matter said. The new music service is expected to be unveiled on or around April 28.”

‘It’s exactly the system that should have existed five years ago,’ said one record industry executive,” Reuters reports.

“Apple’s service will only be available to Mac users, who represent less than 3 percent of the global PC market, but at least one music executive also expects the service will be available in a Windows version as well in coming months. ‘It’s good right now only for the Apple market, because frankly, that’s how Jobs was able to persuade everyone to give him licensing deals,’ one executive said. Jobs still must convince fans to pay for music they have grown accustomed to getting for free,” syas Reuters.

Full article here.


  1. You know…the more and more I think about it. 99 cents per song is too much. A CD with about 13 songs averages about $1.15 @ $15.00 or so (conservatively). So let me get this straight I am paying nearly the same price per song for LOWER quality or NEAR CD quality and I get to pick up the tab for the “CD” by downloading it and I have to pay for my own CD-R. I feel like I am being bent over and poked in the eyes for a song. I feel jipped. They dont have to pay for the mass producing of the CD’s, CD label color printing, CD jewel cases and it’s a slightly lower quality. What gives? I think it needs to be around 50 cents a song to be fair.

  2. 99 cents is just fine. Michael notes that a 13 song CD costs around 15.00 dollars. However, most CD’s have 1 or 2 good songs, tops and the rest are just filler. So this allows the buyer to avoid purchasing extras he or she does not want.

  3. The quality of the AAC downloads can be better then MP3 and as good as CD (if you use maximum bandwith). There has been no indication of what the pricing will be. I suspect newer songs will be higher priced then catalogue. Monday the 28th will give us all the answers. By the way, if “most CDs have 1 or 2 good songs” then you’re either buying the wrong product or artist.

  4. Could be bad for music. If everybody just picks the songs they instantly like, those less appealing album tracks that take a few listens, the ‘growers’ that one ends up preferring to the overplayed singles, may not get recorded any more.

    I guess they could sell single tracks at $1 and whole albums at 50c per track. I’d buy the albums, though given the choice of a download or a ‘real’ CD with a properly printed inlay/sleeve for a little more, I’d still buy the CD.

  5. At $1.00 per song this service seems to be herald a new era for singles’ sales. I think it will act like a paid-for promo so that people could sample music that they would then go out and purchase on a CD. I also think that at some point we will be able to purchase CDs online via the Apple music service.

  6. michael:

    your math is off.. how often do you get a CD and enjoy EVERY track?? So, if I truly like half the tracks (which is still rare) I am spending about $2.30 a track. 99 cents sounds like a bargain to me!

  7. I hope the reality of this service lives up to all the advance billing. $1 a song is perfect, assuming we can move these songs onto an iPod and burn mix CDs in an unlimited fashion. I will gladly pay for this.

  8. I’ve been hearing “iPod” a lot with this new music service. I’m hoping you don’t have to have an iPod to download this music to. I’d gladly use it, pay for it and encourage others to use it. I don’t mind spending 99� a song I just don’t want to spend $300 for an iPod too.

  9. Hywel,

    Think about the possibilities though. Amazon style data mining combined with user review/recommendations: “People who like this song/band like this one too” Listen to part of a recommended song before buying. It could open the doors to a lot more musicians. I for one would surely expand my music interests and would be interested to see what other fans etc like to hear. Combine it with a great portal type personalizable “MyLibrary” of music which keeps track of everything you’ve purchased, commented on, rated and makes recommendations for new stuff. I’m sold ! For those worried about prices I’m sure there’ll be tons of special offers. Sign up and get the first 5 songs free, buy 2 get one free campaigns, small premium for New songs, but discounted old ones. There’ll be lots of ways for Apple to make some $ for us to happily give it to them.

  10. It should work with all iPods, as it is merely a recepticle for storage, as oppossed to a Mac which acts as a collection tool.
    If this online music distribution thing does happen, I’ll be interested in seeing whether Apple remembers they have millions of Mac owners in places outside the US, or whether they will limit it to US residents only (such as the US Apple Store site).
    If a song costs US$1, I’ll have to pay AU$1.65 or so. An average album costs AU$20-30, so it would be of ‘equivalent value’ – minus the cover/sleeve/jewel case 🙁 I’d still repfer to go an buy the CD, rip it, and store it on my Mac.
    This service also presumes we all use broadband. I don’t, as it is still rather costly in Australia (and they have ridiculous downloads caps). I certainly will not sit and wait for songs to download over a dial up connection, when I can walk down to the local music shop and purchase the entire album (with cover/sleeve/jewelcase), go home and listen to it, before one song has finished downloading through an online service.
    I guess time will tell if it is successful.

  11. I would hope to see it priced using the system that used to have: individual tracks are $.99, whole albums for $1.99. Priced this way, you could buy just the one track that you want from a CD, leaving out the dross, or buy the whole thing, burn it to a blank CD, and make up your own jewel case artwork, for a ridiculously low price.

    Me? I don’t anticipate using this service. I can’t stand any of the music on the radio anymore, and haven’t been able to for at least a decade. If I won’t listen to it for free, why would I pay for it?

  12. Patrick Murphy:

    I know what you are saying….but I still stand by my numbers. Unfortunately the theory of economics would not stand in the digital age. “If the demand is high, the price is high. If the demand is low, the price is low.” Example: Let’s just say that a $15 dollar CD only has 2 REALLY good songs as you say and the scale tips to the ones that are popular out of that $15. Lets just say that song #1 and #2 should weigh in at $3.00 while the others are 99 cents….and still the quality is LOW (MP3 vs. true CD quality) NOT to mention it is a download. I have relieved them of the expense of printing full color CD covers, CD jewel cases, & CD color printing. Their post expense has ALMOST become nil. The company’s that sell these downloads are paying for bandwidth, hosting, maintenance, etc., etc. not the record company. These people would go back to P2P if the theory of Economics were true.

  13. I have 2 main hopes for this deal:

    1-That giving consumers the ability to pay only for the songs they like will prevent the recording companies from forcing artists to produce the audio equivalent to those styrofoam packing peanuts (filler). So we all get better-quality music than the lame junk on the radio now.

    2-That this service won’t require a .Mac membership…but it probably will.

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