Industry Opinion: Amazon Sidesteps Apple's 30% Cut

We also report on new free tools for promoting your music online, reveal the site that delivered 13 billion hours of music in 2012, and discuss why Soundcloud isn't just about musicians any more.

Ultimate Guitar

As with every new year, there's little drama to report in the music world while everyone recovers from the holiday period - but don't think nothing is happening out there.

The music business is frantic with planning its strategies for the year, and as usual, technology companies are among the frontrunners for setting the tone in 2013.

Today our report will cover:

- Amazon MP3 store sidestepping Apple's 30% Cut on iOS; - The streaming company that delivered 13 billion hours of music last year; - A free way to get your music on iTunes for the world to enjoy; - The beautiful new tool that will promote your band on social networks; - How 2013 will be the year that Soundcloud breaks into the mainstream;

Your feedback and questions are welcome in the comments, where we'll be taking part in the discussion. Shall we begin?

Amazon Brings MP3 Store to iOS

Amazon have pulled one of the cheekiest moves in music history, by launching a web version of its own music store. The idea is to avoid releasing a music app on iOS devices, because then Apple would get 30% of every transaction. Amazon's solution is a webpage that behaves like an app store at

You can listen to any songs you buy using the Amazon Cloud Player app, available on the regular iOS store. All Amazon has to do is avoid the sales part happening on an iOS app, which it achieves with the MP3 web store; the listening can still happen on a native iOS app.

On the plus side, Amazon has a good catalog of songs and has more deals available. On the bad side, Apple might block it one day, and your only choice of device might be an Amazon device if you want to hear your music. It's too early to tell if Amazon's future products will be something you want to buy.

Pandora Reveals Impressive 2012 Stats

Music fans streamed 13 billion hours of music from Pandora in 2012 - not bad, considering artists were critical of its bid to reduce royalty payments a few months ago.

Here's the new stats in full:

- 13 billion hours of music streamed; - 1.6 billion personalized radio stations; - 1 million different songs streamed from 100,000 artists+; - 10,000 artists had 250,000+ unique listeners each;

"Fandalism" Offers Free iTunes Distro

Want to sell your music online? Digital music distributors like CD Baby and Tunecore make it easy by sending your tracks to all the online stores on your behalf - but it comes at a price.

Now an alternative has emerged with the musician social network Fandalism.

It offers free iTunes distribution, and you can pay $19.99 per year for additional distro to Google Play and Spotify catalogs with as many songs as you like. While the distro options are pretty limited (other companies send your tracks to at least 25 stores worldwide), it's good to know there's an affordable alternative which goes to the main western stores. Fandalism also acts as a musician social network, and claims to have over 550,000 members around the world. Not bad.

Tool of the Week: Dropify

If you want to promote your band online, there's a new option which neatly connects your Facebook profile and tracks downloads in a beautiful design. Dropify is a quick and easy way to share free downloads on social networks. Just drag and drop onto the home page, and you're halfway there:

Unlike similar drop-and-upload services, it encourages files to go viral with some smart social integration and design choices. It's also fully compatible with mobile devices, which is especially important when you consider how many people only have internet access through their smartphone.

Here's an example of what it looks like when someone shares an ebook to Facebook:

Sadly, you can't sell files on Dropify, but next time you have a free song to preview for download, try it out. Will Soundcloud Take Over 2013?

Last week we reported on some stellar listener growth on Soundcloud after its redesign in late 2012. Since then, Next Big Sound released its State of Online Music 2012 report, which highlighted the stratospheric growth artists have seen recently:

Soundcloud was already an integral part of any musician's online toolkit, but the new design introduced a 'repost' function that lets non-musicians join in the fun and share songs they like best. It seems the new listeners are non-musicians who are spending more time on the site now they can share music too.

Years ago, Soundcloud was the stronghold of producers and studios. It's great to see a company grow into being a positive, creative network where everyone can take part.


Do you have any questions about the topics raised this week? Ask your questions in the comments - we'll be joining the discussion and answering your questions.

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    yep. good for amazon. Though Apple will probably sue them claiming they invented internet pages or something stupid like they always do.
    Good. Not having to pay shit to those greedy swines at Apple will keep Amazon prices low. I'm happy for Pandora as well.
    circus musician
    Oh look, Amazon avoiding paying for something again! That seems to be what they do so well.
    I don't think it's Amazon avoiding paying for something "in Amazon fashion" as much as it is Amazon avoiding a stupid thing that Apple would have required. They said Apple would have taken 30% of each sale. That means the cheap mp3 albums you enjoy on Amazon would have had to be raised for Amazon to make the same amount.
    circus musician
    Obviously it is a very different situation to them not paying tax. I don't actually have a problem with them not paying Apple, but let's just say if they didn't have a habit of avoiding paying for things, our tax system would have a lot more money. And I'm not going to be buying any mp3 albums on Amazon because they're tax-avoiding scumbags so I'll avoid giving them any money if I can help it.
    To call Amazon out as "tax-avoiding scumbags" is kinda low IMO. They are not the only company that is set up in a way to avoid paying taxes. You buy an album on iTunes in many states, you don't pay taxes either (in my state I get a 99 cent song for 99 cents on iTunes, not a dollar something). Amazon and Apple both are tax-avoiding scumbags, it's just that Apple has the so called "Apple Tax."
    circus musician
    Wow. It seems people really don't care about taxes. Well I do. Just because Amazon aren't the only company that doesn't pay tax, that doesn't justify them at all. It's not at all acceptable to dodge taxes and if we as consumers avoided the companies with heinous tax records, we could expect to see a lot more companies paying their share of tax.
    Taxes are a scam to begin with. Why do you want to give these clowns in DC another dime to waste and kill people with? It just goes to the banks anyhow. The only thing I have a problem with Amazon's tax evading policies is that more companies don't get away with it.
    In this instance how exactly would you have done it? You clearly have no business experience. If you went before your CEO and said "well I think we should route it through Apple, our major competitor, so they can get a cut of our sales" you would be thrown out the window with just cause
    circus musician
    ^see up here. I was making a joke. A joke about Amazon being tax avoiding scumbags. I expect the person who told the CEO they should pay their fair share of tax got thrown out the window too. Because they're scumbags... who avoid tax.
    If buying music without a hard copy wasn't bad enough, now you want us to buy it on a "cloud"? No thanks.
    I like finding used cds on Amazon for a penny and paying the $2.99 shipping.