Apple is just as bad as the RIAA?
Some people in life are never happy. Apple is trying to work out a way to make the Internet and music work for all sides: fans, musicians, labels, tech companies, etc. I believe they've done a good job. They do have a ways to go to make it better, but with the announcement of Windows support yesterday and features like audio books, allowance accounts, etc. I believe Apple is leading the way in the Internet music business. With all that said, the site Downhillbattle.org is not happy with the iTunes music store. They believe artists are still getting screwed by the old system. They're right and they're wrong. But, in the end, they're actually really wrong. Let me explain.

Apple had to get agreements from all five major record labels to get all those labels' artists on iTunes. Those labels typically have horrific contracts with artists that do little for the artist and a lot for the label. These record contracts are despicable. Downhillbattle.org agrees they're awful and doesn't understand why Apple would sell the artists' soul to those very same labels running a sleazy business. Downhillbattle.org points out that it's the same old bad system just packaged in a different way. This is where they are right, sort of. Yes, Apple signed deals with the record companies in order to distribute a lot of artists' music. And, yes, those record companies still maintain the same sort of bad contracts with their artists that pay the artist next to nothing (if anything at all.) But, Apple is changing the industry by first winning over the “enemy.” You see, Apple has now signed on a ton of independent labels that often have much fairer contracts with their artists. On top of that, they've allowed a site (and pseudo label) in CDBaby on iTunes. CDBaby charges a minimal fee to list your music on iTunes and gives back 91% of the revenue they receive from Apple back to the artist. You'll find it interesting that CDBaby has a prominent link on Downbillbattle.org's web site. CDBaby is held in high esteem by most that know about the company because of the way CDBaby treats the artists on its site. Apple didn't have to cut any deal with CDBaby to allow them to put music on the iTunes store. Apple could've just stuck to the old guards of music with the five major labels but they chose to open the invitation and allow (and even promote) change within the music industry by inviting companies like CDBaby to the table. Allow younger and hungrier companies like CDBaby on your service for a few years and watch as those companies start to gain ground on the big guys. Watch as the CDBaby's of the music world start announcing deals with artists that would have normally signed with one of the big five. It will happen now that Apple is providing a way for the little guy with a much better heart (and business mind for this day and age) to compete. CDBaby couldn't compete in the traditional distribution channels like retail, TV and radio, but they can compete on the Internet with the help of companies like Apple that want to turn the music business upside down.

So, in the end, Apple did sign with the Devil and (at the same time) is all set to beat him at his own game. That is why Downhillbattle.org and others who are so critical of Apple's new foray into the music business are ultimately wrong.
Posted on 10/17/03 - Category: Music

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