WSJ: Apple is music’s new gatekeeper

“Every day, the roughly one million people who visit the iTunes Store home page are presented with several dozen albums, TV shows and movie downloads to consider buying — out of the four million such goods the Apple site offers. This prime promotion is analogous to a CD being displayed at the checkout stands of all 940 Best Buy stores or featured on the front page of Target’s ad circular,” Nick Wingfield and Ethan Smith report for The Wall Street Journal.

Wingfield andSmith report, “How do bands get these boosts? Who decides whether Arcade Fire is plugged at the top of the iTunes site — or whether Nickelback gets no mention?”

“Apple has jettisoned some of the conventions of traditional music retailing — notably, the practice of selling prime promotional spots to recording companies willing to pay for better visibility for their acts. But behind the scenes there’s plenty of horse-trading going on that influences which songs are seen and purchased by iTunes customers,” Wingfield and Ethan Smith report.

Full article (subscription required) here.

Related articles:
Fortt: Apple becoming the Sony of this century, not with Mac or iPod, but with iTunes – January 19, 2007
Apple’s iTunes Store passes two billion songs milestone; 50m TV shows & over 1.3m movies sold – January 09, 2007
MacDailyNews presents live coverage of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo 2007 Keynote – January 08, 2007 (iTunes Store – over 2 billion songs sold – 5m songs per day – 4th largest US music seller – just passed Amazon, Target (#3) is next )
Apple’s iTunes Store sells 90% of paid video downloads – December 20, 2006
Apple iTunes has the power to save TV shows, drive new viewers, even change production methods – October 31, 2006


  1. Every day, I buy anywhere from 1 to 5 new songs, carefully picked after scouring through new releases, iMixes, and the random searches for words like “buttercup”. You’d be surprise how much good music is buried behind the scenes.

  2. It’s very easy for an Indie artists to get their music catalog available at iTunes.. All they have to do is register their music through CdBaby who have a distribution deal with iTunes… (

    It’d be next to imposible for Apple to deal with each and every one band Indie artist and music label, so Apple struck a deal with CdBaby, the largest online retailer of Indie music in the world.. This way, CdBaby deals with all the individual artists and labels and Apple just sends CdBaby one check per month for them to distribute to the individual artists accordingly.

    The iTunes/CdBaby deal is very favorable to the artist as well. The Indie artist gets about 60 cents per song sold (way more than major label artists get,) while CdBaby takes a 9 cent cut per track, the other 31 cents goes to Apple. Artists get paid monthly with a detailed statement.

    I know the system well because my music is sold on iTunes.

    Don’t worry, I won’t post a shameless plug ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

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