Happy Birthday to iTunes!
Apple has been celebrating the 10th birthday of its flagship music store this past weekend. Love it or hate it, iTunes has been a dominant force in modern music, and plenty of people have been reflecting on its effect on the wider industry.
The biggest thing that iTunes achieved is probably that it showed the world how a simple, efficient music store should work. First of all, it has a huge catalog of music, from major to indie to independent artists. Second, it's insanely easy to buy songs, with very few clicks needed to get what you want. Third, it's easy to get that music on your music device or at least, it's easy if you're using an iPod on a Mac. These things seem normal now, but 10 years ago this was the holy grail, and a welcome alternative to the messy world of piracy for musicians and listeners alike.
The original version of iTunes in 2003
But times have changed, and they'll keep changing in the next 10 years. By today's standards, in a world where streaming is becoming the norm and the iTunes apps feels clunky and slow, will iTunes survive another decade?
Perhaps it will survive. Rumors of an iTunes "iRadio" streaming service have been rife for years now, and iTunes remains the most popular online store for traditional downloads. But while iTunes is a very profitable enterprise for Apple, it's not just about music these days, with movies, books and apps being a big part of what drives iTunes's massive profits today. Some forget that the whole point of iTunes was originally to help drive hardware sales with the iPod.
One theory about the next generation of iTunes is that some kind os streaming or subscription service will be tied to iOS devices, to keep people "locked in" to the Apple economy. As usual, this kind of idea is great if you can afford to live the Apple lifestyle - or indeed, if you want to.
Facebook wants you to share listening habits
Facebook is like a monster that eats information about your private life, and we keep feeding it. Guess what: it's still hungry, and wants more than ever about what you're doing at any moment of the day.
A new update to the site lets you post what you're listening to at any moment:
You can also post about what you're reading, watching, easting or even feeling - which is all fine for sharing with friends and having as a personal log of your life, until you remember why Facebook is really doing it and you freak out because THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO SELL STUFF TO YOU.
It's funny, really. Old dystopian novels like "1984" talking about how the government would be spying on us in the future - that may be happening, but at the same time we're giving private information about our lifestyles away for free. Maybe that's something we should think about more.
AOL Music Closes
AOL used to be bigger than Google in internet circles - now it's struggling to keep up with its ambitions of being back on top. Or rather, it's utterly failing at every opportunity.
Here's the backstory: a few years ago, AOL decided it would be the king of blogs and bought up tonnes of popular sites. The company had a series of music blogs in many genres, including Spinner for rock music, and even had localised versions of these sites in different countries like the UK.
After a while, the international sites weren't doing so well, and they all closed down. The American sites kept going, but this week the company finally gave up and decided to shut down its entire music operation, according to tweets from staff members.
"Well, we all just got laid off. AOL Music is finished," tweeted Spinner editor Dan Reilly on Friday afternoon. Later, he tweeted about how staff there were begging to keep their computers for just a few more days.
There's a lesson for big businesses like AOL here: don't get into areas that you're not really passionate about - especially music. Some things take love, not money, to really succeed.
That's the end of this weeks music industry news roundup. We want to hear your opinion on the following:
- Will iTunes still be king of digital music in 10 years?
- What do you think of sharing your listening habits on Facebook - are your music tastes something to show off about, or should parts of it be kept private?
Share your thoughts in the comments and we'll be joining the debate.