Here come the Apple iTunes Music Store copycats

MusicMatch and Radio Free Virign are planning to add paid digital downloads to their services within the next nine months. The change will make MusicMatch and Radio Free Virgin, “direct competitors with iTunes Music Store, Music Net and the current pressplay, among other services,” reports Lauren Barack for The New York Post. “Music Match and Radio Free Virgin claim to have unique listeners in the millions. Radio Free Virgin cites 2.8 million unique listeners in a month, and Music Match claims to have an estimated 2 million unique listeners for the same time period.”

Barack continues, “That is a significantly larger user base than the 200,000 – 300,000 people who use all of the digital music services combined, said Phil Leigh, a digital music analyst with Raymond James. ‘What they want to do is emulate as close to Apple as they can,’ said Leigh.”

“Apple’s iTunes Music Store is the new standard most consumers want – and the direction analysts and industry experts claim the rest of the digital music arena is heading… iTunes, however, is only available to Macintosh users – which make up just 3 percent of all computer users – and may be why the five music labels agreed to offer a less restrictive service. Some analysts doubt whether the five labels will allow the same lack of restrictions to a service that will reach a larger user base – and therefore put their content at more risk for copyright infringement,” Barack reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Macintosh users make up more than 3% of all computer users. Barack incorrectly quotes recent market share figures, presumably from IDC, instead of taking into account the Mac installed base, estimated by Apple to number around 25-30 million users. It would be more accurate to quote estimates of upwards of 10 million Mac OS X systems that can use the iTMS.


  1. If Apple wants to radically increase their music store business, I suggest they get the windows version of iTunes done asap.

    And this quote really ticks me off: “What they want to do is emulate as close to Apple as they can.” Makes me think of Microsoft…

    – Mark

  2. My only fear is that the Windows version of iTunes will fail because a new Windows “Critical Update”, released shortly after iTunes, will create a conflict or will make the Windows version buggy, giving Windows users a false vision of iTunes, the store, and Apple. if perhaps Apple could “license” the use of the store to Microsoft, and make them provide the means for downloading….Apple still makes money, windows uses still get to use the store and Microsoft fails or sails on their own.

  3. Making a WIntel version of iTunes isn’t very easy… and making a knockoff of iTunes for WIntel boxes is almost impossible.

    Don’t forget that iTunes is also the traffic cop for the downloaded music and regulates/maintains the play limits. This is easily done on a Mac using existing security codecs or by the simple addition of new ones. But, with Windows, it is so mindnumbingly complex and fraught with security holes, there is no way to make the copyright restrictions as solid as on a Mac.

    Even if someone does make an iTunes 4 clone for Windows with online song purchasing, they will still lack the smooth integration with other media applications like iMovie and iDVD. It will be just another buggy, system crashing, CPU hog like all the other Windows aps.

    I have sympathy for the music industry; their dream is possible on a Mac today, but it could be a copyright/security nightmare trying to implement it with the other 90% of the market. They will have to decide if it’s worth the gamble.

    If I were the CEO of a musci production company, I would not be too fired up with releasing any of my copyrighted material until it is as secure and simple to do as on a Mac and an iPod.

    I have stopped listening to ANY computer hardware or software company when they talk about what their future plans are. It’s all 100% hype that usually results in a crusty ol’ hollow version long after its projected release date. Apple has never stopped making people say “Wow!” when they release new products… REAL, purchasable products. On the few rare occasions when Apple info is “leaked” they not only deliver, but they have a strong reputation of delivering much more than expected. The Windoze world has to settle with empty promises and artist concepts. When will their users ever learn?

  4. The iTMS is just getting started. Apple has an installed base of about 10 million OS X users from just thier computer sales since introducing OS X. I think that, as with the introduction of any product, sales of music is off to a relatively slow start considering that only 2 million tunes were sold in the first two weeks.

    First, everyone who has bought music must upgrade to iTunes4 and Quicktime 6.2. These are not small downloads. Then, they must set up accounts. Once this is done, music is a snap to purchase. But it does take a bit of time even for people with DSL/Cable connections.

    I would image that it will take a few months for the Mac community to check out and set-up accounts. But, once this flood gate is open, the numbers could be fairly impressive. Assuming that 1/2 of the 10 million are in this country, there might be 5 million potential customers now. Taking myself as an average music purchaser, some 100 tunes at this point, there could be 500 million tunes sold to just this base without breaking a sweat

  5. followup on what Greg said…

    You are assuming that all 10 million of those OS X computers are owned by a discrete customer base. This, however, doesn’t take into account the fact that many of these macs are sitting publicly in schools, colleges, or libraries where individual users are not going to be downloading purchased music. What we need is a number that corresponds to the number of computers owned and/or used by individuals.

  6. “How about the OS 9 version? I still use Quark! Ahh!”
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />
    It’s funny how a person can just say ‘Quark’ now and it makes people laugh.

    It’s just a couple more months more now… really. OK – maybe three… but really soon. Very, very… soon. You’ve waited this long…

    And yet, there will never ever be an iTMS for OS 9. Ever.

  7. it took Apple 18 months to develop this great concept into a working, stable, fast and easy to use reality. These knockoffs will need just roughly 12 months to make something comparable. And by then, iTMS for Windows will be out and Apple will have had 12 months to tinker with any bugs and make inprovements on what they’ve already implemented.

    For the time being, playing catch-up is futile. The groups would be better served to admit they’ve been beat in the here and now, and work to do something to top iTMS. Probably not going to happen though…

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