To be fair, it isn’t just the iPod that makes up the new music standard. Apple has pulled together all the pieces to produce a new music standard for the masses that will evenutally go beyond CDs, just as that standard went beyond LP albums, cassette tapes, and 8 tracks.
The combination of iPod as the portable music player, iTunes as the controller and center of the music hub, and iTunes Music Store as the trough from which today’s music lovers feed is altering the shape of the music entertainment industry.
How do I know this? I’ve seen it before.
Improvement only comes with change and a quick look around will show you that, yes, “The times they are a changin’.” Most music lovers and iPod users don’t know much about the technology, but most folks can tell you the iPod’s a music player. Maybe “the” music player. And they don’t know why.
For computer users, there’s few who don’t know about iTunes, iPod, and the iTunes Music Service. If, for some reason, they don’t know, they will soon.
Here’s how I know. Can you say “VHS?” Sony foolishly hung on to their wonderful but proprietary Beta standard while the competition spread it around in lucrative licensing agreements. Soon, everyone was selling, and using, VHS instead of Beta and the market didn’t like two standards.
I’m not saying that’s exactly what’s happening with Apple, the iPod, and the music business. The market place will demand simplicity with standards. They did it with Windows vs. Mac and they’ll do it with music. That doesn’t mean the Mac isn’t and won’t continue to prosper.
It does mean that multiple formats will peacefully coexist in the new music marketplace. It also means that one will dominate and that will be Apple’s iPod.
I figured that out while watching an iPod TV commercial while reading a flyer advertisement from Radio Shack (which contained a bunch of HP iPod ads). Then I picked up a Mobile Planet catalog that came in the mail. iPods all over the place.
Then I looked around at other ads from the weekend newspaper and the week’s catalog mail. iPods, iPods, iPods. Yes, there are other players, other online music services, other formats besides MP3, AAC, WMA, et al. It doesn’t matter.
The standard is iPod.
As Mac users close to the action we “hope” that’s the case. Windows users probably don’t even think about it. They just tried it out, it worked better than anything else, it continues to work better than anything else, and they don’t care much that it came from Apple and the Mac first.
The new music standard will be the iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store. There’s no need to worry about Microsoft, Sony, Virgin, Wal-Mart, Napster, or anything or anyone else in the industry. Apple’s iPod rules and it will continue to rule for years to come (unless Apple really screws up something big; don’t see that happening for awhile).
Look around. What do you see?
What’s better than the iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store combination? To market a competing product for the masses, a few things have to happen. The new product, whether it be from Microsoft, Sony, Napster, or Toyota, must adhere to certain laws.
The new product must cost less, or have more and better features, and/or have better distribution systems, or simply be some of that and MUCH cooler. Cost less? More features? Better distribution? Much cooler?
Hmmm. Haven’t I pretty much just described the iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store “standard?” Apple has developed, launched, and nailed the new standard in music. Distribution couldn’t be easy. Point, click, listen, click, click, buy, download. Moving music from computer to iPod is delightfully seamless even on Windows computers (mostly).
The selection of music from Apple remains the standard to beat and no one’s beating it. Coolness? Come on? Sony blew it, everyone said so, now Sony knows it, too. Right now, what’s cool is iPod.
How long will this standard last (it seems to me that CDs didn’t last as long as old fashioned records, so more change is on the horizon)? It’s hard to say. Change is the name of the game.
Apple’s changing the game but it will probably change again. Maybe it’ll be just multi-gigabyte memory chips which makes your next cell phone into an iPod of sorts.
For now, the new standard in music is Apple Computer’s iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store. Mac users were the first to recognize that, without stating it (I’m stating it; start applause now). Carly Fiorina, head of HP recognized it and said it’s better to join than fight. Smart, that Fiorina.
It’ll take other manufacturers and the music industry awhile to figure it out, but they will; mostly after their own lame efforts fail following gazillions of dollars in investment.
The new standard in music is iPod.
Apple will be the next major music label.
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Since change and managing change is important to Apple, the music industry, and any business, look for future changes to take place that may rock the music industry to the core.
For decades, the music industry would find, develop, groom, launch, promote, and “own” recording artists. It’s the labels that have made the money in the music industry. Capitol. RCA, Atlantic, Sony, Virgin, Apple Corp, and many, many others.
Who’s the next music industry “label?”
Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store: next giant music label.
Think about it. Recording artists used to rely on the labels for everything from production to promotion. With a Mac, Logic (or GarageBand), and the ability to promote via the web, and distribute music via iTunes Music Store, what does a recording artist need with a traditional music label like Sony or Virgin?
Artists can easily create their own music on Macs with all the latest tools and effects. The music can be distributed (and to a lesser extent) promoted via iTunes Music Store.
Is that a great combination, or what? Imagine; Steve Jobs heads the best computer animation movie studio, AND the best online music distribution “label.” Is that cool, or what?
I’m probably not the first person to recognize what’s happening with Apple and the music labels. Frankly, the labels need iTunes Music Store, so they need Apple. They need a way to curb the losses from peer to peer networking and music theft.
Apple gives them a solution. But Apple becomes the creation (Frankenstein monster) that rules the village (terrorizes?). It wouldn’t take much for a new recording artist to create some hits that are purely non-major-label hits; using a Mac for recording, Mac software for effects and sweetening, a small sound studio, and iTunes Music Store for distribution.
So, the labels need Apple. For now. It may be too late to do anything except go with the flow and watch their lives change. For the major labels, they’ll be able to make a small fortune with the Apple iTunes Music Store juggernaut.
So it’s a good thing they’re starting with a large fortune.
Even if Motorola sets another new standard with a cell phone that embeds all the capability of an iPod, Apple will still rule the roost with the distribution system; iTunes Music Store.
What do you think? Does Apple have enough momentum to become the new music industry standard bearer? Can they manage the change of music eventually flowing from the iPod to a cell phone? What will the record labels do if they start to lose power and influence over artists and distribution?
It’s all about managing change, isn’t it?
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