Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Blog 7: The Era of the iPod: The iTunes Rant

When I was little I absolutely adored my mini cassette playing boom box. I would record songs off the radio and pretend to be my very own DJ. Flash forward through Walkmans, CD players, and bulky MP3 players to the present where iPods are king. Now I can have the convenience of loading up an endless amount of songs onto my handy dandy iPod. However record labels and artists are being more and more concerned with their music being ‘stolen’ and loaded onto many people’s computers. There are now endless lines of red tape I have to go through now to download music onto my iPod. What happened to the good old days where I was able to record songs off the radio for free, shouldn’t technology make recording songs freely easier now? All I want is my [free] music…

I’ve had an iPod for a few years now and I can say I’m still not a big user of iTunes to get my music. I’ve gone through several different music sharing sites since I was in middle school (pre iPod era) to download music. I used to be an avid user of Napster, Kazaa, Imesh, among other sites to download songs and burn cd’s. In recent times (before my computer was infected with a virus) I resorted to using Limewire to download my free music. So there is tradeoff when we download off these sites by running the risk of downloading a nasty virus for the free music. Although I ran into my first virus, I still will take the chance to download free music than to pay for what I listen to. We (as college students) just would rather resort to other means than paying for music.

With iTunes, you can purchase entire cd’s or songs at fairly reduced prices, but when you can get music for free, $1 seems like a lot of money. From years of free downloading students now have collections of music that ranged into the thousands of songs. I know if they would’ve paid $1 for everyone song they dowloaded, many would be able to pay a year of college tuition. Yes, I know $1 is not overly excessive, but it does eventually add up in the long term. Apple must understand the mentality of a large portion of their target segment will look to free music first. We are, for the most part, broke college kids who will try to find loopholes in everything we purchase. We’re the ones that look on the internet for 15 minutes searching for buy-1-get-1-free coupons, paying with quarters and $1 bills at restaurants, and drinking one week and a half expired milk because we still think it’s ‘good.’ Especially since many of us grew up on downloading free songs off music sharing sites, paying for music is sometimes difficult to bear. Why pay for songs when we can get them for free?

As a consumer in this market segment, I feel that iTunes should implement discounts or promotions to better advertise their songs and increase market share. I would be more enticed to purchase music if there were more buy-1-get-1 free song offers on iTunes. I feel that music is fairly accessible, so if iTunes wants me to purchase songs from their company, I would want something more in return. I do like the fact that you do get the digital cover on the songs you do purchase and I feel they can emphasize the digital art more than they do now.

Now with emerging sites such as Pandora and LastFM which only play music and is not downloadable, music listeners are getting new ways of listening to the music they want. Rather than pay for songs or risk downloading a virus, music has been made more and more available. Also with features of tailoring playlists to a particular taste (as Pandora does), it opens the consumer up to new artists that they might like. If iTunes would do something where you could purchase a song of your choosing and they would pair it with a song you ‘might’ like, the consumer might be more enticed to buy more music from that particular artist. Also, getting benefits and discounts more often as an iTunes member would also appeal to the music listener. We are a generation that feeds off free and discounted products, so I feel if iTunes did more to give back to their customers, they would gain more market share. Until then, I will continue looking into getting my music at discounted rates (there is now apparently even a youtube à mp3 converter to translate songs/videos from youtube into accessible mp3’s) and remain optimistic for future music purchases.

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