Mix: Record exec, iPod weddings, Creative Technology, STINKR | iLounge News

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Mix: Record exec, iPod weddings, Creative Technology, STINKR

Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ remarks on iTunes pricing yesterday, an anonymous record label executive told MTV that there’s a simple explantion for Jobs wanting to keep the prices at 99 cents: “It helps him sell iPods. When he started iTunes, he broke through that psychological barrier that consumers had and made a lot of dough doing it, but it seems like he has a monopoly and he’s become the Wal-Mart of the Internet, and he wants to retain that monopoly.”

CNET has a report on the growing number of couples who are turning to iPods to handle the music at their wedding receptions. “What could be easier?” says Lori Leibovich, editor of IndieBride.com. “You bring it, you program it, it sounds great. It doesn’t surprise me at all that more people are doing it.”

Business 2.0 reports that Creative Technology plans to shift its marketing focus from its MP3 players to its PC sound card line. “Creative made lots of noise last November, when it unveiled two new MP3 players that it predicted would help it take 40 percent of the global market this year. But, analysts say, despite spending about $100 million to promote its MuVo and Zen models, the company’s market share is still around 10 percent (compared with Apple’s 70)... Tellingly, Creative has begun shifting its promotional efforts toward its new line of sound cards.” [via MDN]

In yet another bad review for the Motorola ROKR, Fortune’s Peter Lewis writes: “The most inexcusable failing of the ROKR is that for all the anticipation, many of its features do not work as advertised. Doesn’t anybody test these things before selling them to the public? The ROKR software is sluggish and clunky, and transferring songs into the ROKR’s memory is so slow—even on a dual-processor Apple Power Mac G5—that I was almost glad of the 100-song limit.”

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Comments

21

“I wish the price of iTMS songs would go up to $3.99 to make Apple lower the price of the iPod.  I would much rather have cheap iPods than cheap downloads.”

I wish the price of gasoline would go to $1,000 a gallon and I would get a free SUV.  Just kidding.

Posted by khyberny on September 22, 2005 at 12:53 PM (PDT)

22

The record companies don’t want iTMS to be successful. It is an independent outlet that they can’t control

The RIAA controls prices within the iTMS far more closely than many chain stores, aqnd ensures it gets most of the cut from the sale. iTMS is generally bad for artists, unless you go through CD Baby or similar.

http://www.downhillbattle.org/itunes/

Apple gets 3 times as much money as musicians from each sale. Apple takes a 35% cut from every song and every album sold, a huge amount considering how little they have to do. Record labels receive the other 65% of each sale. Of this, major label artists will end up with only 8 to 14 cents per song, depending on their contract.

Posted by Demosthenes on September 22, 2005 at 4:36 PM (PDT)

23

This is a way past both the RIAA and the iTMS: Voluntary Collective Licensing.

http://www.eff.org/share/collective_lic_wp.php

The concept is simple: the music industry forms a collecting society, which then offers file-sharing music fans the opportunity to “get legit” in exchange for a reasonable regular payment, say $5 per month. So long as they pay, the fans are free to keep doing what they are going to do anyway—share the music they love using whatever software they like on whatever computer platform they prefer—without fear of lawsuits. The money collected gets divided among rights-holders based on the popularity of their music.

Posted by Demosthenes on September 22, 2005 at 4:39 PM (PDT)

24

The one thing that many of you have thought about apple having a big profit on the ipod to be greedy is hardly even true. What most people don’t know is that Apple does all the design, software, hardware in house. They don’t go out to have other companies design the chips or come up with ideas. Apple spends a lot of money researching and will always spend most of their money on researching. What the MUSIC EXECUTIVES don’t realize is that it is the opposite way around, the music doesn’t sell the ipod, the ipod sells the music. The main reason why the ITMS does so well, is because some people see ITMS a good alternative to illegal downloading, because it is one of the only music stores that work well with the ipod. These MUSIC EXECUTIVES really need to open their arrogent eyes that have been covered by the wealth that Apple bestote upon them and realize that they need to to cooperate with apple, not the other way around.

Posted by M Bargo in Chicago, IL on September 22, 2005 at 4:53 PM (PDT)

25

Everyone, please stop supporting Apple and their claims that the Labels are greedy.  They’re both greedy and we gotta stop acting as if it’s only the Labels.

If you buy into Jobs’ logic on his media crusade to make the labels looks greedy then you’re just gonna allow Apple to continue to fleece consumers on the price of the iPod.

Apple just effectively raised the price of their best selling player, the mini, by replacing it with the nano which sells for $50 more.  That’s what I call greed.

Nothing in history, other than piracy, should suggest to consumers that songs should sell for $.99.  Singles have never been this cheap, and a line players has never been more expensive than the iPod.  By the logic that some are using on this forum, consumers should start stealing iPods since Apple has raised the price.

Look at the big picture…how much have the labels made off music at iTMS, how much has Apple made off music at iTMS, and how much has Apple made off the iPod?  This is why the labels are mad, and business usually demands some kind of equality amongst its partners.  When you look at how much is being derived from the iPod economy, the Labels are getting the short end of the stick.

The equations needs some balance.  The Labels need more per song and Apple needs less per player.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 22, 2005 at 5:12 PM (PDT)

26

Talking Madness is living up to his name. If Apple’s prices for the nano are so outrageous, why did all the other manufacturers have to reduce their prices just to stay competitive with it?

Posted by Butch Hauke on September 22, 2005 at 6:46 PM (PDT)

27

$0.99 downloads works well for good artists, because people are going to buy the whole album. it’s crappy boy bands and teen pop who are going to suffer ... their albums are generally one or two hits, and a bunch of filler to make you shell out for a whole album.

Posted by Lawrence Mikkelsen in New Zealand on September 22, 2005 at 6:57 PM (PDT)

28

What the record execs need to watch for is the day that Apple starts signing artists directly.  If they keep pissing Steve Jobs off, this is exactly what will happen.  Remember, he already is the CEO of another well-known entertainment company (Pixar)!

Posted by Frank Z on September 23, 2005 at 1:05 AM (PDT)

29

Butch Hauke-

The price for the nano is high, but that doesn’t mean people won’t buy it for $249.  Yes, the competition is dropping their price to compete, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s prices aren’t high, it just means people are willing to pay $249 for the nano.  Here are some other examples of things that are high, but we still buy…

The price of gas is high right now, but people are still paying it.

The price of Evian bottled water is higher per gallon than gas (about two times as high per gallon), but people are still buying it.

People will still buy songs at $1.99, but some say that would be high.

The point that you’re missing is that all corporations have the agenda of charging as much as they can for their products.  Jobs is saying it’s the Labels who are greedy, I’m saying he’s just as greedy.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 23, 2005 at 3:24 AM (PDT)

30

Well, Madness, you just pointed out the difference between the labels and Apple.  People are WILLING to pay the high price for a nano or whatever iPod model is out there.  But they are NOT willing to pay more than 0.99 for a song.  This will be a reality check for the labels if they try it.  I could see sales dropping 50% and falling into a steep decline if song prices are hiked.

Posted by Frank Z on September 23, 2005 at 6:58 AM (PDT)

31

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/sep2005/tc20050921_4557.htm

Now that the Nano is on the market, attention has turned to more practical questions. Among them: How fat are Apple’s margins on it?

Market research firm iSuppli set out to satisfy the curiosity by buying the $199 2-gigabyte version of the Nano and tearing it apart. The verdict? It costs Apple $90.18 in materials to build the unit and $8 to assemble it, leaving a profit margin before marketing and distribution costs of about 50%.

Apple’s choice of memory supplier is making perhaps the biggest waves. Having tied up 40% of the so-called NAND flash memory output of South Korean chipmaker Samsung, Crotty estimates that Apple is paying $54 for 2 gigabytes worth of memory. That would cost any other manufacturer $90, giving Apple a discount of about 40%.

Giving Apple a break—and in the process squeezing other MP3 player manufacturers—also benefits Samsung’s own MP3 player business, Crotty says. “The market is heading toward consolidation, with its own big three, Apple, Samsung, and Sony,”

Posted by Demosthenes on September 23, 2005 at 7:18 AM (PDT)

32

Frank-

You almost hit the nail on the head.  People may be willing to buy songs at $2.99 each…we don’t know.  A lot of people say they won’t but I think they will.

If sales drop 50% like you predict, but they double the price, the numbers are the same in the long haul.

If they triple the price, the sales could drop by 66% and the end result is the same.

I don’t think the sales will drop by that much if the price is raised, and let’s not forget that the people who are pissed about the higher cost of a single, may still buy the album.

The thing that the Labels are truly fighting is the cost of a single, not so much the cost of an album.  Ultimately they will try to squeeze another buck or two out of an album, but it’s when people only buy one track off 50 Cent’s new album that kills them.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 23, 2005 at 11:08 AM (PDT)

33

Talking Madness—

Back in my early computing days, I once paid $600 for 16Mb of memory. Now I can get a beautifully designed product (the iPod nano) with tons more memory that even lets me play my music.

CDs, on the other hand, have not gotten any cheaper through the years, even though the labels said from the start that they would. The initial cost of building plants to manufacture CDs is long past gone, but still no reductions. And the price of blank media has gone way down.

To me, it’s obvious where the greed is.

Posted by Butch Hauke on September 23, 2005 at 5:51 PM (PDT)

34

Edit to my previous post: What I meant to say was “Now I can get a beautifully designed product (the iPod nano) with tons more memory that even lets me play my music for less than half that price!

Posted by Butch Hauke on September 23, 2005 at 7:22 PM (PDT)

35

Butch-

We agree more than we disagree…I like it when that happens.  But, I will say that CD’s have in fact gotten cheaper over the years.  Nowadays you can buy most new releases for $9.99 the week they come out at major chains (Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.).

Getting nostalgic like you did, I remember paying $1,200 for my first HP LaserJet IIP back around 1990.

I remember buying a hard drive that held a few megabytes and was nearly the size of a shoebox in the early 90’s.  I think that thing cost me an arm and a leg.  It held 1/1000 what the nano does.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 23, 2005 at 11:49 PM (PDT)

36

Talking Madness,
Yes, they’re both greedy, but of the two the record execs are more greedy. And you prove to be a total idiot by sacrificing download price for a drop in the price of the iPod. Not every needs an iPod to enjoy iTunes, but you’re advocating selling everyone out just so you can get a cheaper iPod. You’re an idiot and a narcissist.

Demosthenes,
Some other sites may be cheaper, but what do they offer? MP3s and WMAs? Both of those pale in comparison to AACs, and that’s a fact.

Posted by Jack on September 24, 2005 at 12:43 AM (PDT)

37

Thanks, Jack.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on September 24, 2005 at 2:10 AM (PDT)

38

MP3s and WMAs? Both of those pale in comparison to AACs, and that’s a fact.

I’m not sure exactly what you are saying. A site like allofmp3.com lets consumers select their choice of compressor, either WMA, VBR MP3, Ogg, or even lossless, and fix their bitrate. You pay per the size of the download. So if you want higher quality, you pay more per track because of increased file size. A site like Rhapsody offers 192Kbit AAC, which usually sound perceptibly better than Apple’s 128Kbit AACs.

Imagine if Apple offered you the standard lo-fi 128K track for $1, or a higher quality 192K one for $1.50, or a completely lossless one for $3. Then you might see some comparison shopping. “One size fits all” is less like capitalism and more like communism, or wouldn’t you agree?

And if you are referring to the perceived quality of lossy tracks at 128K, then perhaps you are unaware that given blind listening tests, AAC scores quite well: it’s about even with Lame MP3 (in second place), but that Ogg scores better than either of them. Graph here.

http://www.rjamorim.com/test/multiformat128/results.html
Vorbis aoTuV is tied to Musepack at first place, Lame MP3 is tied to iTunes AAC at second place, WMA Standard is in third place and Atrac3 gets last place.

If you’re really interested in objective comparisons of audio encoding, you should check out some place like hydrogen audio, and read up on ITU-R BS.1116-1, the international standard used for blind listening comparisons.

Posted by Demosthenes on September 24, 2005 at 8:10 AM (PDT)

39

Talking Madness, my comment to you WASN’T a compliment, but an idiot like you wouldn’t be able to realize that anyway.

Demosthenes, 128 is perfectly fine. I personally wouldn’t be willing to buy a 192 or a loseless in the iTunes Music Store. What would be the point to having them there? It would just take up more space on their servers for basically the same thing. I personally use the average (128) when I import music in iTunes and it sounds fantastic. In comparison to MP3, if you have one MP3 128 file, and one AAC 128 it’s easy to tell the difference, especially if the sound has quite a bit of bass. Bass sounds tinny in 128 MP3 files. AAC 128 files handle bass well. And let’s look at the difference for a second: you’d have to rip to 192-256 in MP3 to equal a 128 AAC file. As far as WMA and OGG go, they might be good, but they pale in comparison. The only people who can’t tell the difference do not have discerning ears. In the end, the choice of which codec to use is a personal one. If a person doesn’t care about how it sounds or if they are willing to accept a bigger file just to get about the same quality that they could get in an average sized AAC file, then that’s up to them.

Posted by Jack on September 24, 2005 at 1:19 PM (PDT)

40

let’s look at the difference for a second: you’d have to rip to 192-256 in MP3 to equal a 128 AAC file.

You obviously have trouble reading plain English so let me spell it out for you.

In blind tests, averaged over several pieces of music, equal bitrate lossy codecs at 128K rank as follows:

Highest perceived quality:
Ogg Vorbis.

Second-place perceived quality:
iTunes AAC and Lame VBR MP3

Third Place
WMA Standard

Fourth Place
Atrac3

Now, I am aware that these tests are a little old, but there has been significant refinement in both the Vorbis and Lame codecs and parameter tunings since then, while Apple is still using the same revision of the AAC encoder. If you know of any more recent, similarly methodological listening tests with different results, then please do share them. Until then, your assertions concerning AAC are nothing more than faith-based reasoning.

And you know, by continually calling people idiots, you do a disservice to your argument. Which, as far as I can make it out, is that you want to the right to have a lower-quality listening experience, and that any attempts by gain greater fidelity of source reproduction are useless. Good luck with that one.

Posted by Demosthenes on September 24, 2005 at 2:34 PM (PDT)

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