Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blog #9: MY iTunes Critique

I read Michael Yang's "The Era of the iPod: The iTunes Rant" on his Insights De La Customer blog. After reading this interesting piece, I thought back on the days where I used to listen to tracks on the radio and record songs using my very own boom box--actually it was my sister's boom box which had been passed down to me.

Either way, we have come a long way both technologically and mentally in terms of how we gather and collect our music. We now use the internet and digital recordings of songs--MP3s--as the main source of music storage. In addition, portable music (MP3) players have become extremely prominent. Of these, the iPod has particularly skyrocketed in popularity and usage. Apple has created a virtual music store through its iTunes program. Personally, I have never purchased a song from iTunes, and do not plan on doing so anytime soon. Why pay $1 per song when most CDs that I listen to have 15+ tracks and I can purchase the entire thing for $10 retail? Not to mention the fact that I'm a savvy shopper and I will usually get a CD (in the rare occasion that I do actually purchase one) off of eBay for no more than 5 bucks.

Yang wonders in his blog "What happened to the good old days where I was able to record songs off the radio for free, shouldn’t technology make recording songs freely easier now?" While bringing up a good point there that there is a lot of red tape when it comes to downloading and loading music onto your digital music player, Mr. Yang fails to acknowledge the fact that the internet era has made downloading and storing music easier than ever. Way back when, a person would have to sit by their stereo and wait for the right moment for their favorite song to come on, and then be fortunate enough so that the tape was ready to go. Then, if all else prevailed, they could only hope that the song wouldn't be cut short... or that the DJ wouldn't start commentating while the song was playing.

Nowadays, users are able to download numerous versions of the hottest song out - all in CD quality and full length. Most of the time, it will be the same exact song that you would find on the artist's CD, all without paying a dime. The digital age has created a dilemma for both musicians and consumers alike. Musicians have to worry about their music being "stolen" from the free music sharing sites Michael mentions: Napster, Kazaa, Imesh, and Limewire. Consumers have a different predicament--whether or not they would like to download free music and run the risks of getting viruses on their computer and possible fines, or just abide to biting the bullet and paying for the music they obtain the "right" way.

All in all, my colleague Michael makes an overall great point with his stand on iTunes' promotion strategies. Michael argues that Apple and iTunes "should implement discounts or promotions to better advertise their songs and increase market share." By providing the reader with a innovative ideas on how to better promote song sales, Yang delivers on his premise of conveying better overall value for its customers. He goes as far as suggesting a 'buy-one-get-one-free' style of promotion, along with packaged discounts and emphasis on album artwork and the likes. Michael indirectly - but strongly - argues, in my words, that iTunes does a poor job of differentiating the music it offers as opposed to its unofficial competitors... the internet music sharing programs. His stance is that consumers would only be driven away from the free downloads which they are all susceptible to only by better product offerings from Apple/iTunes. Michael is indeed a savvy marketer.

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