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How expensive is it to legally fill an iPod?

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By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Sunday, November 9, 2003
News Categories: 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

61

I agree that independents are great and are likely a better business model for the future. 

Independents spend less on their artists and offer fewer services.  They don’t spend money getting your music on the radio; they don’t distribute it to most record stores; they don’t advertise your album.  In exchange, they let the artist keep much more of the money when there is a sale.

The bottom line is that artists *choose* to sign a contract with a record label (or not to sign, if you want to self-released).  Like any other business partnership, the artist gets to negotiate the terms of the contract, or to walk away and find a different partner.  If you want someone to invest half a million dollars in you, you need to be prepared to sign away most of the future royalties and expect the investor to demand artistic input. If you want a $20K investor, you can expect to keep more of the money from each sale.

Posted by terry on November 13, 2003 at 5:07 PM (PDT)

62

“The bottom line is that artists *choose* to sign a contract with a record label”

Terry, I think you’re missing the point. In an ideal world, a level-playing field would ensure that artists were “free” to choose.

But the music biz is not level. It is a rigged game, a cartel dominated by a small number of mega-companies that have been found guilty of criminal acts such as fraud, racketeering, tying, and price-fixing.

Time and again they have been found guilty, either in Courts or through Congressional enquiries, but time and again they pay their fines and continue with “business as usual”.

Now their current tactics, aided by paid stooges in Congress, is to threaten families with bankruptcy because of the harmless music sharing activities of minors.

I am trying to imagine if, when I was a child, that the knowledge that taping a radio show and making a copy of that tape for a friend might have ruined my family would have made a difference.

The current majors remind me of the telegraph operators at the peak of their power when Bell arrived touting his new-fangled “telephony”. Companies based on technologies of communication and media distribution have always waxed and waned, and eventually operating cartels collapse and make way for new patterns of dominance.

iTMS is a fancy front end for a dying cartel. It’s like putting fins and exhaust pipes on a horse-drawn buggy whip.

Posted by MissingThePoint on November 13, 2003 at 5:20 PM (PDT)

63

I am not sure what you mean when you say that artists are not free to choose. 

When you enter a contract you can negotiated any of the terms. If they fail to deliver terms that are in your best interest you can go find another business partner.  There are literally thousands of record companies offering a range of contract terms.  If no record company meets your terms or is willing to invest in you,  you can always scrape together your own funding and self-release.  You only enter a contract if it is good for you. If you were coerced into signing a record contract, the contract would be invalid. 

You claim that ” But the music biz is not level. It is a rigged game, a cartel dominated by a small number of mega-companies that have been found guilty of criminal acts such as fraud, racketeering, tying, and price-fixing.”

There have been judgements both for and against record companies in courts around the world. I am not familiar with cases in which a company has been found guilty of criminal fraud or racketeering (hint hint: companies cannot be found guilty of criminal offenses). Of course, litigation is common in every industry in america, and is not limited to the major labels. More to the point, most of these offenses do not materially prevent competition from independent labels (e.g., independent labels would positively *love* for the majors to engage in price fixing). 

When an artist signs a contract it is not with the RIAA but with one of the record companies. There is no monopoly power in the record industry and competition among the major is, by all accounts, fierce. Do you know of any antitrust judgements against any record company? 

Posted by terry on November 14, 2003 at 7:28 AM (PDT)

64

“When you enter a contract you can negotiated any of the terms”

The principle of contract law is that both parties are unencumbered by prior restraint. This is demonstrably untrue for many contracts because courts have sided again and again with plaintiffs who have demonstrated that the record companies negotiated in bad faith and using deception.

“Thousands”? There are indeed thousands of labels,but 95% of these are fronts for or controlled by the Big 5 so you are always playing against people who can see all the cards.

Antitrust? Hah! Now I know you are just being obtuse. Are you working for the RIAA? A cursory search of Google or Findlaw reveals literally dozens of judgements and settlements. This is just one of the most recent…

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2000/05/cdpres.htm
Record Companies Settle FTC Charges of Restraining Competition in CD Music Market

Posted by TerryIRAAPimp on November 14, 2003 at 8:13 AM (PDT)

65

Yes, there are tons of judgements against record companies for breech or bad faith in contract negotiations… there are also countless judgements against against artists for breeching their end of the contracts. This is a fact of life for all contract law. I still don’t see how this implies that artists are not free to sign (or not sign) a contract with a record label.  If the labels are raping the poor artists, why do the artists line up to sign these contracts? Are you claiming they are all idiots acting against their self interest, or will you admit that for a large portion of artists a record deal with a big label is a very good thing.

‘95% of all labels are controlled by the big 5,’ eh?  Care to back that up?  They don’t even account for 95% of CD sales in the US. They have a considerably smaller percentage of CD titles, and an even smaller percentage of labels. Let’s not exaggerate.

Your ftc citation is for price-fixing.  Precisely the sort of practice that also benefits the independent labels.  It is clear that this sucks for consumers, but it certainly doesn’t constrain artists ability to freely enter a contract. It directly benefits the small labels.

BTW, have I been calling you names? Let’s not act childish just because we disagree.

Posted by terry on November 14, 2003 at 8:52 AM (PDT)

66

People, let us not forget the complicitous corporate radio stations that are another major cause of the music industry’s woes.  Homogenous playlists, sound-alike bands with insipid lyrics and mediocre (at best) musicianship are everywhere on the airwaves.  College radio?  With dinky transmitters and zero budgets, they’re completely marginalized.  Where are all the good bands?  Are the majors promoting anything other that what their radio cronies are playing?  Think about it….

Posted by Roger Dodger on November 15, 2003 at 7:25 PM (PDT)

67

Assuming that my 30gb Ipod truly holds 30gb, and at the rate of 2 cents per megabyte of music, I can legally fill my ipod, for exactly $540.00. Where can I find legal music downloads for 2 cents a megabyte? allofmp3.com. Legal. Easy. has a database of 300,000 songs.  Sure half of them aren’t in my language but who cares. It’s cheaper than dirt.  So for about the price of my ipod, I can fill it too.  Although finding that much music that I like to listen to might be difficult.

Posted by shelbyclay on May 19, 2005 at 12:47 PM (PDT)

68

I have about 30 gigs of legit music, which fills my 32 gig touch pretty nicely. Granted, I don’t listen to all of it all the time, but it is nice for when I just want to hear something I haven’t heard in a while.
I had an 80 gig ipod that was filled with music and tv shows (I have Prison Break, Instant Star (all four seasons of both) and Avatar season 3 on my computer) but it stopped working. I was going to get the 160 gig, but decided I wanted the touch instead. Now I have my music, (28 gigs of which I put on my iPod) and a few episodes of the season I watch on there. works.

Posted by Lara on October 10, 2008 at 10:48 AM (PDT)

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