The biggest profit center for Apple, right now, is centered on iTunes. iTunes is at the center of all that is profitable at Apple.
- iPhone? It syncs up via iTunes and you can even purchase ring tones for your phone via, you guessed it, iTunes. In fact, attempts to allow iPhone owners to create and upload their own ring tones have been met by Apple "adjusting" it's firmware to stop said practice. After all, no one ever creates ring tones from their own original material, right?
- iPod? Unless you are using Linux you are using iTunes to fill your iPod with music. Even if you rip your own CDs or listen to podcasts you are most likely using iTunes to do it. Buy just one song and you are locked in forever. The only way out is to burn those songs to CD and then rip them back in.
- Mac? Who would have bought a Mac (aside from those masochistic long term Mac users) if not for the iPod and iTunes? Many people were introduced to the Cult of Apple by way of the iPod and its flashy "I'm cool and original, just like all of those other people that look and act just like me" advertising campaign?
It's not just Apple either. Even Microsoft (with the Zune) has been trying to launch a music service. I'm sure they will also be against such a plan by the music industry to make music free via a tax on the Internet.
Why a Tax?
The first battle in this war began many years ago when the music industry lobbied for (and won) a tax on blank audio cassettes because it was obvious to them that the only reason people buy blank audio tapes is to pirate music. The same thing happened with blank CDs in the 90's. Lucky for us some enterprising companies began marketing "tax free" blank CDs that were labeled for data use only. Yes, if you look you will still find higher priced blank CDs for music in some stores!
Thinking that the pipe has already been primed for such a widespread indictment of guilt upon the American public it seems the only logical next step for big corporate music. They can say they tried with the RIAA and suing people but it failed. What's $5 a month added on to every American's Internet bill? Or even $1 a month? Think of it as protection money, you pay them and they agree not to send their lawyers after you.
Why this is Wrong
If every time a business was pushed out of the market or forced to live with lower profits the government was called on to enforce their "right to exist" we would still driving cars with buggy whips attached to them. The model of the music industry, as it stands now, has to change.
In the 90's they reaped great profits by selling CDs that cost a dollar to make for over $20 in stores. I believe in Capitalism and the laws of supply and demand. If the market was willing to pay that price that the recording industry deserved every penny they got. However, times have changed. With digital distribution systems in place there is no longer a need to purchase a physical copy of a song. So, what is the industry charging for?
Need I remind you that terrestrial radio stations in the USA are given free copies of music to play on the air. Why does the recording industry do this? Because they want to advertise their artists in the hopes of selling CDs, and more importantly, tickets to concerts.
In the days of Shakespeare it was common practice for an acting troop to perform and act free to the public in the hopes of getting them to come to the theatre and pay to see the whole performance. Is today's music industry that much different? Do they not want you to hear the music on the radio to entice you to buy the CD or go to the concert?
To be honest, most CDs today are garbage. The one or two good songs get enough airplay to wear them out in a matter of weeks (if not days). That single song I hear on the radio is enough to satisfy my desire to buy the CD. Once a band has been around for a while and amassed a large quantity of songs then, and only then, will I consider coughing up the dough to see them in concert.
What the industry is trying to do here is make everyone pay for the concert ticket whether they want to or not. They want to treat everyone as a criminal even though it is only a small percentage of Internet users who illegally share music online.
I think this whole thing is based on the recording industry realizing that their business model is dead but not being willing to go away quietly or downsize. Musicians (and industry types) look back longingly to the days of Elvis giving away pink Cadillacs and rock stars buying multi-million dollar mansions. Guess what, those days are gone. So what if you only make $250K per year from touring, is that such a low income? Is it about the music or about the money?
I'm not about to start paying a