Apple’s Steve Jobs scours music vaults for out-of-print titles to offer online

“Building the iTunes Music Store library is a collaborative effort that even Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs participates in. The programming director of the store is a former radio deejay who’s constantly looking for places to find old and out-of-print music. His team of music programmers are experts in world music, hip-hop, rock and classical, to name a few genres. In addition to their own expertise, the iTunes staff regularly collects suggestions from Apple Computer employees, customers and anyone who’s looking to fill a hole in his or her music collection,” Katie Dean writes for Wired.

“‘Even Steve himself will occasionally send me an e-mail pointing me in the direction of a missing album or artist that he’s looking for, and we’ll go and find it,’ said Alex Luke, director of music programming and label relations for iTunes,” Dean writes. “On the conference call about the first birthday of the iTunes Music Store, Jobs said that getting such songs online is one of the next hurdles for online services and the music industry. In general, he said, labels have less than a third of the music in their vaults available for sale because it’s too expensive to distribute such CDs to stores.”

“But to make songs available online, record companies wouldn’t have to press CDs, get them to stores and worry about returns. ‘It’s a one-time cost,’ Luke said. ‘Once it’s been encoded and delivered, it’s in the digital marketplace.’ And if anyone can get the labels to open the vaults, Jobs can, analysts said,” Dean writes. “‘What Jobs is saying is, ‘We’d be happy to take all this content that is rotting away in warehouses and turn it into a new revenue source for you,” said Barry Ritholtz, a market strategist with Maxim Group, a money-management firm. ‘It’s probably a bit much to say Jobs is saving the music industry, but he’s showing them the way into the digital age. They have been stumbling around drunk in the dark.'”

Full article here.


  1. One thing that would be interesting about this is that it puts at odds the audio distribution method iTunes is based on (selling compressed audio files with no documentation) and the main audience for out of print recording (obsessive/completist/enthusiastic classical and jazz fans). On the one hand it would be nice to find an out of print or hard to find album on iTMS, on the other hand if they did have that long-deleted Stokowski recording, or the available-only-from-Europe recording (like a lot of the San Francisco Symphony’s recordings of American works!) I wouldn’t want them in AAC format.

    I love being able to have AAC’s of my CDs on a great portable player, but a symphonic recording reduced to AAC playing on a good stereo–no thanks.

  2. I wish they would get the euro store open so we could get some techno. does anyone know around what time it might open. Also apple needs to bring an ipod type device to the car i would by it in an instant. i love my ipod an all i just dont like connecting it with a tap adapter or fm transmitter….

  3. This might not be optimal for audiophiles, but now any wannabe, starting out, or just plain curious musician can listen to rare music rather than only what the RIAA deams “sellable”

    Its rare music for the rest of us

  4. I have to agree with OJ. I only buy rock music on iTunes, because of the lossy compression used. I only buy jazz and classical recordings on CD, so I can get the best sounding recording.

  5. Didn’t Apple just release a new lossless CD quality format? Don’t you think that when they release these old Jazz recordings that they’ll offer them in that new format? I think so. Personally, I can’t tell the difference between a high end AAC and a CD, but my ears were blown at Twilo a few years back.

  6. Let’s hope that Apple gets an exclusive arrangement out of this (for a few years at least), so all the other online music stores don’t get the fruit for free.

  7. I find the audio quality of iTunes acceptable. What is not acceptable is the lack of notes about the recording. So, I bought my first and last classical recording from the iTMS.

  8. Then of course there’s foreign music. Tried to buy a release after a p2p download discovery — 20 euros (double cd + dvd) for the media, 76 euros for shipping. No thanks.

  9. I recommended this idea right at the beginning. It’s an incredibly powerful idea actually. Sure, if it was a rare recording you might want a good copy, but think about it. You probably would *never* hear the song/album otherwise. Is $9.99 (or $.99 on occasion!) not worth having a copy that you can listen to that isn’t completely and totally lossless?? Come on! A good example of this is OOP older soundtracks. You end up forking over upwards of $50 for some of them (or more!) on eBay if you want a copy. Most of the time, I would be happy with AAC versions (this is all I listen to anyway–I buy a disc, rip it to 128 AAC and then listen to those while my CD safely sits on a shelf not getting scratched). I hope this goes through in spades.


    P.S. I’m with all the rest of you who want access to Europes’ Techno/Trance.

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