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How expensive is it to legally fill an iPod?

I don’t know how many other people have done the math on this one, but I was thinking about iTunes and the new iPod when I realized that to fill a 40GB iPod (legally) from iTunes would be rather expensive.  If you believe the 10,000 song capacity, it would run $9900 dollars, plus the cost of the iPod.  Assuming that an average CD album is $12.50 and has 15 tracks,  it would cost about $8,330 dollars to fill the iPod.  All this makes me wonder when a more affordable alternative is going to turn up.

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Comments

41

“when are we going to get 3G phone networks that can stream our media to us? Once the bitrate becomes sufficient, I could just stream my media across the air from my home server to whatever device I was using.”

Uh… 3g phone networks are here. Sprint PCS Vision, for one. They’re not that fast. About ISDN speed at best. Better than the speed on the non-3g ones where was more like a 14.4 modem. Remember that the bandwidth on 3g is shared and IIRC is only 1.5Mbps to start with.

I think what you want is 802.11g, which is also here, is suited to home use (where on earth did you get the idea you’d be streaming dvd quality anything on a celphone network?), and runs at a theoretical maximum of 54Mbps, which is enough for pretty high quality, if not perhaps DVD quality.

You can’t stream it across town on-the go (though you could beam it across town to a fixed location with a directional antenna), but then, that’s not what it’s intended for any more than it’s what 3g phones were intended for.

Posted by JC on November 11, 2003 at 9:03 AM (PDT)

42

Ben:

> Sorry, I should have added that mine is an iPod for Windows… is there a way to do that on a PC?

Yes.  Go to Apple’s site and download the updater.

///d@

Posted by Dithermaster on November 11, 2003 at 10:18 AM (PDT)

43

Huh?
What?
Phones?
Ipod?
Music?
WTF?

Posted by But Head on November 11, 2003 at 10:19 AM (PDT)

44

> 3g phone networks are here. Sprint PCS Vision

Nope, you’re wrong. What Spring calls “3G” is really only 2.5 G (“2.5G-speed CDMA 2000 1X ” to be precise). Which begs the question of what they will call “real” 3G when they finally deploy it.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/59/33142.html

The new Verizon “true” 3G 1xEV-DO network says it offers 2.4 Mbps, real-world experience of 300-600 Kbit/s. Plenty enough for audio.

> I think what you want is 802.11g

I already have 802.11g—fine for short-range use, but still has issues with frame skipping and retries. Not a replacement for 3G cell networks.

I agree that streaming video will take longer over cells. However, I have done some experiments in this field.

I used to have 802.11b. Regular DVDs with MPEG2 require 6-9 Mbit/s. With 802.11b you get plenty of stuttering, even with 4x modes.

But recompress with DIVX/XVID/MPEG4 for between 900 Kbit/s - 1.3 Mbit/s and you get DVD quality but with a big bandwidth savings.

Posted by YorWrong on November 11, 2003 at 10:44 AM (PDT)

45

Let’s see if we can try this again…

Topic:
” How expensive is it to legally fill an iPod? “

Posted by But Head on November 11, 2003 at 11:15 AM (PDT)

46

Thanks Terry, for being a lonely voice of business reason here.  People seem to be ignorant of the fact that the only reason they have heard of most artists is because of the efforts of record labels.  If record labels were such terrific businesses, why don’t you buy stock in them and get rich? 

Posted by asdf on November 11, 2003 at 11:34 AM (PDT)

47

Yeah, tell them how it is.

And don’t forget that a lot of artists, producers, managers need money for drugs and drugs are expensive too. So don’t steal their music. You wouldn’t like it I stole your drug money!!

Posted by Little man on November 11, 2003 at 11:51 AM (PDT)

48

But Head get a life, the original topic was “legally” and “fill” and I never thought about it but if what they say is true and future ipods could get music from off of the phone network and not from a hard disk then it doesn’t mean anything to “fill” an ipod anymore.

Were you a hall monitor in school?

Posted by descartes on November 11, 2003 at 12:50 PM (PDT)

49

Little Man,

You’re right.  We should steal from the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and anyone else who’s ever used drugs.

Posted by asdf on November 11, 2003 at 1:42 PM (PDT)

50

...don’t forget Bill Clinton, George Bush, and more than 50% of Americans with a college degree.  I am afraid I might even have to steal from myself. 

Is there a statute of limitations on this it’s-okay-to-steal-from-drug-users rule? If they don’t happen to have anything I want to steal, could I just beat them with a stick?

Posted by terry on November 11, 2003 at 1:56 PM (PDT)

51

$50 is all it costs if you’re a subscriber of Wippit. Wippit is an unlimited music subscription service that offers 60,000 songs from 200 labels with no limit on CD burns and transfers. For more see: http://wippit.com

Posted by Wippit Press on November 12, 2003 at 8:36 AM (PDT)

52

as i understand the copyright laws (at least here in germany but i think thereīs somethink like that in the us also) it is legal to make private copys of music. itīs even legal to give those copies to friends as long as you donīt copy one cd too many times and as long as you have a personal relation to the person you give it to (internet sharing doesnt qualify cause you usually dont have this required personal relationship with the receiver).
this means i can take my ipod to all my friends and fill it with their cds - legally! this way the ipod makes much sense since itīs an easy way to collect tons of songs - for free.

Posted by legal user on November 12, 2003 at 9:16 AM (PDT)

53

legal user -

What you are doing is probably not legal under US laws, but might be in germany.

There are plenty of websites that cover the IP laws in the US, and they outline the “safe harbor” principles.  Those are four criteria that need to be met in order for unauthorized use to be “certainly” legal.  It is possible that you could have a legal use without all four being met, but you better check with a lawyer.

One of the four is “partial” reproduction.  You cannot reproduce all of a commercially available work without paying the copyright holder.  The courts have allowed exceptions to this, but only under narrow circumstances… but these clearly do not apply to copying 500+ CD’s. 

You could, however, still copy a large number of individual songs from your friend (and legal copyright holder) and would likely be totally legal.  There is no clear legal answer to the “how many songs is too many?” question.

If you want to be legal and still rip your friends’ CD, you can help your legal case by: (a) only copying those songs that are not avail for legal download, (b) by deleting the songs after listening to them a few times, (c) by not redistributing them to anyone, (d) only copying a song or two off of each CD, and (e)  making a relatively low quality reproduction, and/or editing the music in some way.

Any real determination of legality would require a court judgement.

Posted by terry on November 12, 2003 at 10:02 AM (PDT)

54

I thought I would add my two cents:

bobyseruncle-
Without the investment and profitability of crap acts like Mariah Carey, the music labels would have crashed long ago.  It’s the pop breakout hits that allow the labels to afford investment with the smaller acts that produce better quality music but also have much smaller followings, i.e. less profitability.

Terry-
Again, it goes back to the profitability of the artist.  Groups like Rolling Stones, playing to capacity crowds in large arenas are going to make the lion’s share.  While smaller, lesser known acts such as The Replacements (my fave is their rendition of Kawliga) struggle to make ends meet.

Somehow you seem to be confusing the indie groups (like Replacements, Clan of Xymox) with major labels.  Those of us who are actually seeking out and purchasing music from such groups don’t see the lunacy in the pricing because we can also see that there is reason for such.  Smaller scale distribution results in less opportunity to recoup costs and, therefore, drives up the retail price.

You want to bash all those that “steal” music, how do you feel about those of us who go to used record stores and purchased used CDs?  None of the profit there goes to the musicians either.

Also, let’s not ignore the fact that during the height of Napster, when the RIAA was screaming that Napster was killing the industry, CD sales were growing.  Now that Napster is dead and file-swapping is more underground and the RIAA has succeeded in pissing off America, CD sales are in serious decline.

Resale-
You’ve got a great point.  MP3s and AACs are worthless after purchase, there’s nothing tangible to transfer them on.  Reminds me of the old days of cassette tapes. You could buy anything on cassette back then but the quality was poor and the resale value non-existent.  The real question is: are you looking for instant gratification or are you looking to your future listening pleasure?

That said, I’ve always bought vinyl or CD so that I could make copies and do what I see fit with them.  I buy CDs, burn copies of them and use those to play in the car or do whatever with.  When they inevitably get scratched/destroyed, I still have my originals to enjoy and make more copies to destroy.

Posted by Mac-A-Matic on November 12, 2003 at 12:42 PM (PDT)

55

I agree with much of what mac-a-matic says, but I don’t see the moral distinction between indie vs major labels.  It is true that more of the money from an idie record sale typically goes to that artist.  However, majors pay artists much more money up front and spend much, much more on artist development and promotion.  They then need to take a bigger slice of sales revenue to offset these larger up-front investments. 
Said another way, if indies are so much better for the artists, why do almost all artists prefer to sign a contract with the majors?  Indeed, why have a record contract at all?  You could keep all of the money if you do it yourself.

Posted by terry on November 12, 2003 at 1:27 PM (PDT)

56

Terry:  You’re off on a tangent; please let us know when you’ll be returning to the planet earth as I’m sure your family and friends are growing deeply concerned.

Posted by mark on November 13, 2003 at 3:06 PM (PDT)

57

“do almost all artists prefer to sign a contract with the majors? Indeed, why have a record contract at all”

Because the Majors control the industry like the efficient racketeers they are. They control access to play slots, to gig venues, to advertising, and to air time. They control the ranking systems, the shelf space in retailers, and the Billboard system. They control the media and press outlets and dictate what gets reviewed and mentioned and cross-promoted.

Finally, thay also have access to the best blow.

http://www.negativland.com/albini.html
Steve Albini - The Problem With Music

“Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying s h i t. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed. Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the s h i t stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the s h i t. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim again, please. Backstroke”.”

Posted by payola on November 13, 2003 at 3:30 PM (PDT)

58

I am sorry to have drifted so far from an intended discussion of the costs of music by discussing the music business.  Your ad hominem comments are much more topical. I am endeavoring to follow your example going forward.

Thanks again for setting me right.

Posted by terry on November 13, 2003 at 3:31 PM (PDT)

59

Steve Albini’s comments are interesting, but somewhat misleading.

Scenario 1: When an individual artist sells a lot of records, most of the money goes to the record label.  HOW UNJUST!

Scenario 2: When an individual artist creates a record that no one buys the label (not the artist) has to eat the production and promotion costs. HOW UNJUST! As Steve points out, these costs routinely exceed $250,000. 

Steve calls the money collected by the record label in senario 1 “profit.”  This is an unusual definition of the term, since a business would only show a profit if the revenues exceeds the losses.  You have to calculate in the losses on artists for whom they spent money that they will not recover. Record companies are not very profitable.

Posted by terry on November 13, 2003 at 3:54 PM (PDT)

60

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0411/p13s02-almp.html

“3-1/2 years after it first started, Bloodshot Records finally hired its first paid employee. Today, it’s a popular and healthy independent label, one of many operating outside the grip of the five mega-majors: Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Universal Music Group, BMG Entertainment, EMI Group, and Warner Music Group.

While executives at those labels wail about the industry’s imminent collapse, indie labels and artists are singing a much happier tune. Profits are up - in some cases by 50 to 100 percent. That’s in contrast to overall album sales, which dropped about 11 percent in 2002.”

“By avoiding the major expenses associated with getting a tune on the air - which can cost upwards of $400,000 or $500,000 per song - independent labels are able to turn a profit far more quickly, and share more of those profits with their artists.”

“At a major label, most artists are unlikely to earn anything unless they sell at least 1 million albums, and even then, they could wind up in debt. Everything from studio time to limo rides are charged against their royalties, which might be only $1 per disc sold. That compares with an indie artist, who can sell a disc for $15 at a concert. If they make $5 profit a disc on 5,000 discs, they pocket $25,000.”

“perhaps the biggest difference is that they let artists keep the rights to their work. Michael Hausman, who manages Mann, says once the large labels get those rights, they may choose not to release a note of music but won’t let the artist work for anyone else - essentially bringing career momentum to a halt.”

Posted by PayForPlay on November 13, 2003 at 4:28 PM (PDT)

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