USA Today columnist: onlne music biz is ‘still broke and Jobs hasn’t fixed it’

“Steve Jobs is pretty smug about iTunes, but maybe he’s got it wrong. It’s at least worth exploring, because so far the tech industry has treated Apple Computer CEO Jobs and his creation of iTunes much the way the Hebrews treated Charlton Heston after he parted the sea of Jell-O in The Ten Commandments. Praise be Steve! He has saved us! Except now there’s a daring young Web site called Magnatune that’s asking some interesting questions about ways to finally create harmony between the Internet, music artists and consumers,” Kevin Maney writes for USA Today.

“It suggests that iTunes and all the similar 99-cents-a-song sites from the likes of Dell and Musicmatch are just a waylay on a longer path. Eventually, that path has to lead to a business model that stops the ongoing insane war between the music industry and its customers


  1. Why is there so much hostility and hatred toward Apple for actually having and holding on to the majority of the music download business?

    The way I see it, all these other people are just mad that they could not come up with such a brilliant idea like iTunes and/or they are just mad that they cannot gain market share on iTunes. So now they just try to poke holes in Jobs’ business model.

    I say, go back in your rabbit hole and just try and keep your customers happy because once they venture over to Apple, they just might not come back.

    P.S. First post. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Magnatune? So a no-name label with a stable of a couple of dozen no-name artists has decided that since it can’t sell their crap it will try to pawn it off as shareware… and that’s somehow comparable to iTunes in the eyes of this idiot.

    How do utter morons like this stay employed?!?!?

  3. Its not so much a hatred to iTunes. Its still a hatred of the record labels. iTunes Music Store is great except for the fact that it is still controlled by the record labels.

    Magnatunes is an experiment. I would love to see it succeed. I love the idea of downloading Ogg Vorbis files or even FLAC and not having any DRM restrictions whatsoever. The question is, how many bands will go this route? The bands still want to get signed to record labels. They are still dumb enough to want that signing bonus, um I mean loan, from the record labels.

    I will continue to use iTunes as well as browse Magnatunes occasionally to see what independent artists are showing up.

  4. I didn’t think that Jobs had ever claimed to have solved the dilemma of digital music. But what is clear is that iTMS (and those who have copied its business model) have discovered a greater truth, which is that consumers will – if given a transparent rights model and a compelling product – opt for legality.

    The rest of this story is nonsense: iTMS is the Tower Records of the online music world, in effect a distribution conduit. Apple Computer (as opposed to the moribund defender of the physically dead and the creatively bankrupt) shouldn’t see its future mission to CREATE a record company, although I personally think there would be enormous irony in buying EMI’s music and song publishing operations seeing as they’re now the shy little wallflower at the dance).

  5. Apple has a way of “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”

    This is actually a book. Magnatune will have to deliver something that is cool and works otherwise the tipping point will not have an impact. Steve Jobs was essentially the tipping point for Apple. So was Jonathan Ives. We made Apple become the rage that it is today.

  6. ok, lets all settle down. so what if steve did not fix online music or the music industry. the model has been in existence for a century and will take multiple steps to make a more viable model. iTunes is the first step on the path. let’s see where garageband takes us – that maybe step 2.

    there will be more steps by more players in the industry and market. at least the music industry is finally looking at alternative ways to make their businesses grow, fill their coffers, and still please their audience without alineating, although there did a great job of that with threatened lawsuits.

    so let’s all settle down, patronize our favorite service – iTunes – and see where this takes us over the next 10 years.

  7. So…there is this record company named ‘Apple’. …And there is this computer company named ‘Apple’. …And the latter ‘Apple’ is selling a lot of music. …But ‘Apple’ thinks that ‘Apple’ shouldn’t be in the music business. …But they are ‘talking’ right now.



  8. iTMS is a distribution channel for the legal purchase and download of music with understandable rights.

    I can choose to buy a CD – either click to Amazon for their retail price OR drive to a store for an “immediate” purchase – and rip it to any format I please without DRM wrappers. I can then use it within the legal boundaries of copyright.

    Buying and downloading music with simple DRM is a choice I make. It is convenient and suits me in the way that I want to use music. That’s part of the contract: DRM beyond copyright in exchange for a convenient purchase.

    I don’t care if file sharers are still stealing music. Just as I don’t care if heroin addicts are still shooting heroin.

    I cannot help it if the Music Industry has a lock on music distribution and sales. Its not my fault that good artists sign bad contracts. It’s not my fault that bad (is that the definition of indie?) artists don’t get signed and cannot find a way to distribute music. I don’t care.

    All that Apple did was to get the major labels to agree to a set of rights that music purchasers can get when they buy and download music from iTMS. And also create one of the simplest, addictive, and compelling eCommerce experiences on the Internet.

  9. “…still broke….”

    “…plenty of reason to act stupid.”

    I hope that Manley is enrolled in some remedial English courses. I assume to have a job writing for USA Today he must be a University graduate . How can he hold a degree (presumably in Journalism) and write that bad? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />


  10. Clicking into the article, you have to read it out loud with a breathless BBC-on-NPR style:

    “Except now there’s a daring young Web site called Magnatune that’s asking some interesting questions about ways to finally create harmony between the Internet, music artists and consumers.”

    “Daring young Web site” – is that a tagline to show off Kevin’s 40-something hipness?

    For real excitement, try “USA Today Honest Journalism” – USA Today – if the NY Times can make up news, so can we.

  11. There’s nothing new at Magnatune. Just a small label making noise. Everything they spout is an old idea that will probably be implemented at iTunes when the Big Labels relax and agree to it. Some things have to change, first. Right now, making physical CDs and shipping them to brick-and-mortar music stores is the best way to sell music. When online sales overtake CD sales, then things will begin to change, again.

    Another consideration is that Apple cannot become a Label without alienating the Labels that provide it’s stock. There may come a time when Apple commands enough power to become a label, but not for a long time.

  12. I agree with Webby and KennyL, in that iTMS was a baby step, and a crucial baby step. One should not assume that iTMS will not evolve. I think the pricing model the author is trying to invoke is not eBay, but Priceline. A dutch auction for music.

    If and when a streaming model becomes viable, iTMS will add it. If and when a dutch auction pricing model becomes viable iTMS may add that too.

    One thing that the author didn’t consider is the impact of GarageBand, and how something like iTMS can be more than just a distribution system, but a publishing system as well. Of course, the issue with Apple Records will have to be settled first, but the ability to circumvent the big 5 will be very interesting to watch.

  13. Jeff S: if you really want new music (and some not so new) – for FREE, and LEGALLY, then look around, the sites are there. Try: or

    You can choose to download as mp3s or the ‘other one’ – I have many hundreds of friggin’ great tunes from these two sites alone. So much so, that I’ve gone on to – shock – BUY the album.

    Free and legal downloaded music CAN work – and without using the parasites of Kazaa or Grokster.

  14. This is journalism? Granted USA Today is not exactly a high caliber paper, it’s just like Dell. Very large but incredibly vanilla.

    Obviously Steve & Co. are doing something right with 25,000,000+ songs sold. If this were meant to fail, it would have failed from the word go…

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