Apple iTunes Store’s ‘Complete My Album’ is a marketing tool

“In the past few months, labels and artists have begun releasing multiple tracks in advance of an album’s street date to promote new releases, relying in no small degree on Apple’s iTunes Music Store’s Complete My Album feature to convert them into full-album sales — in some cases with striking effectiveness,” Reuters/Billboard reports.

“Take Lil Wayne’s smash hit ‘Tha Carter III.’ In a rare move, Universal Motown made six songs available for download in the months prior to the album’s release, a full one-third of the 18 tracks included on the final iTunes version of the album… Fifty-two percent of the album’s sales on iTunes came through Apple’s Complete My Album function,” Reuters/Billboard reports.

“The Complete My Album feature is simple: iTunes users who buy single tracks from any given album can opt to purchase the remaining tracks on the set for a prorated price. Apple introduced the option at the end of March 2007 and since has seen conversion rates of around 10 percent,” Reuters/Billboard reports. “But those rates could start climbing now that acts like Lil Wayne, Jason Mraz, the Cure and the Jonas Brothers are using the feature as a marketing tool.”

Full article, “Apple’s Complete My Album Emerges as Marketing Tool,” here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Citymark” for the heads up.]

Apple iTunes Store’s ‘Complete My Album’ emerged as a marketing tool the instant it was turned on, but thanks for playing anyway, Reuters/Billboard.

What did we write well over a year ago, when Apple announced the iTunes Store “Complete My Album” feature?

“This is an attempt to keep the outmoded album concept around for a little while longer. It is highly-targeted marketing; just try it and see. All of your iTunes Store-purchased songs that don’t have the rest of the album in your library (ie. the stuff you didn’t want or like the first time around) are gathered together for you and you’re presented with ads to buy the rest of the albums. Our guess as to why they (the music labels and/or Apple) put the 180-day limit on this is simply another marketing tactic: time-limited offers create additional motivation for you to buy now. This is advertising masquerading as a feature.” – MacDailyNews Take, “Apple debuts new iTunes Store ‘Complete My Album’ service (advertising masquerading as a feature),” March 29, 2007

Once again, you got the real story here first, 15 months, in this case, before the mainstream media caught on.

19 Comments

  1. Actually the artists and labels killed the album first by putting out such crap they call music. Who wants to pay $10 – $15 for a CD that has one or two decent tracks.

    Napster and the others like them put an additional nail in the coffin.

    Apple, with the first successful mass electronic distribution saved music and helped to usher in a radical change that the music industry still tries to push against.

  2. I can’t believe MDN republished that bulls**t diatribe again after we all gave it so much flak 15 months ago.

    The fact is, many albums are worth buying the whole thing. Albums are often meant to be kept intact (see “Concept Album”, including Green Day’s American Idiot album). Often people like all the music by one artist, and you want to test something out first. Or you are sent something, you listen to it, you like it, and you want to hear the rest of it.

    Not everybody is a clone of MDN, running around with a library with three or four songs per artist and a million artists. I have 1.7 days of U2 music, 1.2 days of Bruce Springsteen, etc. on my iTunes; having something like Complete My Album helps. Ranting against it only risks giving it bad PR and making album pull the feature; why the hell would you want that?

  3. @MDM, Music artists do concerts. That is their core performance experience. A concert is a series of songs. People who want to bring the experience of artists’ performance with them purchase an album; a collection of songs.

    In my mind the post record company payola system is one where individual artists can perform and market. They will market an experience much like their live concerts. They will market collections of songs; albums.

  4. It is designed to appeal to the devoted audiophile, making it easier and more convenient to get the complete works of their favourite artist. Of course it’s a marketing tool … duh … but there still exists a desire to hear an entire album to experience the artist better. The NYT seems a bit slow on this one!

  5. “Take Lil Wayne’s smash hit ‘Tha Carter III.’ In a rare move, Universal Motown made six songs available for download in the months prior to the album’s release, a full one-third of the 18 tracks included on the final iTunes version of the album… Fifty-two percent of the album’s sales on iTunes came through Apple’s Complete My Album function,” Reuters/Billboard reports.”

    Marketing ploy? Sure. But that isn’t a bad thing. This is an example of someone actually thinking about how to leverage digital download stores. We have heard plenty from technophobes about how downloading has foiling their time honored methods (releasing singles at a certain time, getting airplay at a certain time, restricting access until the “drop date”). Releasing a third of the album early can probably achieve the same sort of excitement. It could encourage having more solid tracks since if an artist releases 4 songs and only 1 is any good, the rest of the album will not sell well.

    At least give some credit for trying to adapt rather than bitching about how downloads are evil because they are counter to the old way. Advertising and marketing are part of having commercial products.

  6. So, if the 45rpm contained the hit single, and you flip it over and get the “B side”, you would still have to go purchase the LP for the rest of the tracks. You can’t just bring in the 45 and have the record store credit you towards the LP. The “Complete My Album” feature makes it easier and tempting for people to collect the LP, rather than a bunch of 45’s, especially in today’s a-la-carte music market.

  7. It’s talentless rappers like that fool Lil Wayne, who are a dime a dozen nowadays, that are the reason that album sales have tanked, it has nothing to do with Apple.

    Those rappers are all the same. They all use the same old tired formula. Rip off some music from another hit song, rap a few rhymes using endless expletives in a monotone often flat voice. Then get a real singer that actually has talent as a ‘feature’ artist to sing the chorus. Finally, for the video get as many young hot women as you can in bikinis to writhe around to the noise. (Kanye West is the best example). If these rappers had to rely on just their own talent then rap would have died years ago.

    Another thing, how the hell does Timberland get so much kudos for sitting in a production booth twiddling with some knobs? He’s just about as bad as those clowns that scratch a record back and forth twiddling with switches thinking that they are actually producing music.

    Real musicians, often have a hand in writing the lyrics and music, play instruments, and most important can actually sing.

    Anything else is just manufactured crap that requires very little talent.

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