Steve Jobs and the Apple gang have the tech world bubbling with anticipation as an announcement is set to be made today, one predicted to relate to music. The cryptic message on their site reads “Tomorrow will be just another day. You will never forget.” As a result, tech bloggers have been engaged word wrestling & oneupmanship, trying to predict what the revelation will be and gauging its impact. The overwhelming speculation is that it will relate to one of the last bastions of hope against the digital revolution, The Beatles’ catalog, finally making its way to iTunes in full mp3 grandeur. Another guess that could truly shake up the world – as Apple’s known to do – is that the giant will begin offering music “in the cloud.” Or, Jobs could just go for the whammy and say both of the above will happen.
So, why the fuss or have you adopted the “I don’t care” attitude? Yeah, I took the same approach when the mp3 was first mentioned. “I don’t care what they do, I’m still going to buy CDs.” Now, taking that trip to Best Buy or FYE is more a dutiful labor of love than me looking forward to Tuesdays. Let’s face our fate: Apple has more control in dictating the future of music than Kanye, Taylor Swift or Jimmy Iovine. When they talk, it’s not a bad idea to keep a cursory ear bent towards the sound of their voice.
“Being that the Beatles MP3 holdout is emblematic of the recording industry’s resistance against modern distribution methods, the way in which the Beatles discography will be made available should be telling. Here was a situation in which the labels and distributors have millions of sales at stake, and though to be fair Beatles records have been selling just fine without the benefit of legal downloads over the last decade. The powers that be must know that by agreeing to MP3 distribution, they are shifting the fulcrum.
“So why do we care? Because this is one of the last times you’re going to see the recording industry in a position of power. It’s like seeing a majestic Dodo in action for one last time. The obstinacy that has led to doing things the same way since the 50s (there are likely LPs that have been in print that long, being sold the same way, like produce) at last is running out of steam.”
“I saw that someone had suggested The Beatles were finally coming to iTunes, but really, who cares? If you want The Beatles on your iPhone you can grab the newly remastered albums that came out last year, “rip, mix, burn,” then off you go. Not very exciting, no. What could be exciting, though, is a streaming music service. In an instant, Apple would have killed the MP3 once and for all. You hear that? That’s the sound of the RIAA thanking Apple over and over again.
“Apple collects $10 per month (or whatever) from you, you get access to an entire Cloud’s worth of music, and the record labels no longer have to worry about pesky kids “trading files” any more. Not because illegally trading iTunes-purchased music was ever a problem for the record labels, but that iTunes Stream would represent a very clear change in the culture of music consumption. Kids wanting to listen to Kanye West’s “Monster” won’t think to look for an “MP3,” they’ll grow up learning to fire up iTunes Stream on their iPhone.”