iTunes…And So Can You!on July 2, 2012 at 10:53 PM
We at Chain Gang Media enjoy being distributed by iTunes in our various podcast feeds. And we are proud to say it was a mostly painless experience that improved our shows in quality, just through the osmosis of the requirements to be on Apple’s store.
But the required hoops that we jumped through got me fired up at the time, especially when combined with some music-downloading issues that happened at the same time.
By no means is this a rant against iTunes or Apple. Just some observations of the store and the process of commerce therein, from the perspectives of both a customer and a creator.
Audience Kyle Says:
Funny, iTunes is a wonderful place to go for entertainment, depending on what you’re looking for. I listen to between five and twelve different podcasts, all of which are available for free on iTunes. This is great, because I can download them directly onto my iPhone and they’re easy to find. They’re organized, too. Great stuff.
If I want a movie or some TV episodes, things are a little more complicated. I can download something to my device and have it on my computer now (so that’s what a “cloud” is). This works fine for movies, but TV is available in full seasons or single episodes…sometimes.
Say I just want my favorite episode of “The Simpsons” on my phone. Just in case my car breaks down and I’m trapped in the desert. Before I die, I want to poignantly sing along with “Mr. Plow” as life fades from my eyes. I don’t need the whole damn season. It wouldn’t fit on my phone with all the podcasts, music, the seven different Angry Birds apps, and hundreds of obscene photos of cartoon poop.
I just need that episode. But I don’t want to pay $25-$35 for it. I would just Youtube a clip of “Mr. Plow,” but if I’m dying it’s probably directly related to the fact that there’s no 3G or Wi-Fi.
And music is worse. I wanted one AC/DC song and one Def Leppard song. They were to be tracks 1 and 2 of the inner soundtrack of the comic I’m writing. Believe me, I won’t listen to all of Highway to Hell or Pyromania. And I don’t want to spend $10-$20 for essentially one song.
I might have, though. If the bands were even on iTunes. They aren’t. It took how long for The Beatles to be on iTunes? How many years? Apple, get your shit together and offer substantial profit to these bands. They’ll agree to your Terms and Conditions. Heh.
Creator Kyle Says:
The process of putting three podcasts on iTunes was mildly difficult, but highly rewarding. From the perspective of someone looking to get some traffic from Apple customers, I totally understand some of the misgivings mentioned earlier.
Anyone looking to buy TV shows-digitally or on disc-are prepared to spend some extra coin that they don’t have to. This is a business, and just like cable companies and phone plans, ala carte options are not cost-effective. Besides, I’m sure loads of studies show that TV on DVD or download consumers are mostly completion-obsessed folks who must have every possible episode. After all, who the hell watches only one episode of “Breaking Bad”? No one, that’s who. That show’s episodes are like Pringles; you consume a stack of them without even thinking about it.
Music is a fun medium if you’re looking to make money. As soon as a format is established enough to track, it is obsolete. CDs have been next to useless for years, and there are only two reasons they still exist: people still make mix CDs, and record companies don’t know how to predict sales of non-tangible products.
But business aside, there are other reasons why iTunes is not ideal for music distribution from the viewpoint of a creator. AC/DC has explained that the reason I can’t download anything of theirs from Apple is because they made albums specifically to be consumed as albums. And iTunes would chop up their masterpieces and sell the shattered remnants for $0.99 each. That would ruin their art.
Bullshit. I mean, this would be a valid excuse from Rush or Pink Floyd. You know, the bands that make concept albums. But AC/DC doesn’t exactly have a narrative through-line with “Highway to Hell” or “Back in Black.” The central thesis of all of their songs is, “Get shit-faced, rock on, get laid! And go to hell! Yes, all at once!” Not that I have a problem with that, but it’s not like “2112” or “The Wall.” Hell, it isn’t even “American Idiot.”
The fact is, these artists are in it for the money, too. They want to know how many albums they’ve sold. Because that’s how they calculate their gold, platinum, and unobtainium status. Which helps measure their entry into the Hall of Fame. And it also helps measure how much money their record made for the record company, so they can demand stupid shit. And it helps measure how much money the artists actually get to keep. They don’t give a fuck how many people are listening to that ridiculous track that someone’s cousin wrote. That’s why CDs allow you to skip a song. They weren’t bitching then, were they?
Also, if AC/DC really had a problem with it, they could follow the model of Rush. Try downloading “Necromancer” by Rush off iTunes. I’ll wait.
Nope, you must download all of “Caress of Steel,” because it’s a concept album and one song cannot be downloaded without the rest. This model would work for AC/DC because (like the TV example earlier) if you simply must buy a thirty year old AC/DC song, statistics dictate you’ll probably shell out ten bucks for the whole album.
So, is digital entertainment a perfect format? Hell no. But it certainly beats that car stereo that ejected tangled wads of cassette tape at you during the guitar solo. And it beats the hell out of fragile, easy-to-ruin discs. And it really beats the hell out of those stupid mini-discs they were trying to peddle at us ten years ago.
All in all, I think insanely famous bands and musicians should get with the program and realize that this is the accepted format now. And Apple should get with the program and throw millions of dollars into getting some certain music, TV, and movies onto iTunes. I’m ready to have every episode of “Jake and the Fat Man” on my iPhone now. And why can’t I find some unsigned bands I really like on an INTERNET music database?