[Marxism] iPod and iTunes and media i-diocy

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sat Nov 26 17:14:42 MST 2005

If I hear one more time some bit-brained reporter going on about the
tremendous success of Apple's iTunes music store, I am going to scream.

Reporters usually attribute this alleged success to the tie-in with the
ubiquitous iPods, which have the almost unique distinction of being the
object of technolust of both the cool and the geek at the same time.

With 30 million iPods out there, this is probably a good time to assess
the putative paradigm shift represented by iTunes. So how many songs has
iTunes sold to fill up those 30 million music players, most of which
hold a thousand songs or more?

Six hundred million, which --if you do the math-- works out to 20 songs
per each pair of white earbuds. In other words, what you can fit onto
one burn-it-yourself CD, what we used to put on all those 60-minute
cassette mix tapes. Methinks people aren't paying hundreds of dollars
for iPods just to listen to the same 20 songs, even if it does make a
fashion statement.

So the question becomes, how many songs does the average iPod user have
in their players? As it turns out, there is an answer to this question.
And that answer is 504, according to a survey of more than 1,000 music
player owners in the U.S. conducted  last May and June on behalf of a
Toronto-based outfit called the Solutions Research Group.

Of course, a significant number of those iPods are "shuffle" and other
models that don't hold more than 100 songs apiece, which will pull down
the average. (Owners of players other than iPods, by the way, only have
about 250 songs apiece). But taking the figure at face value, what does
this mean about iTunes' share of songs on the average iPod user's
player? It is a miniscule 4%. 

That leaves a mere 96% to be accounted for. Some people undoubtedly rip
their own music from CD's they own or (ehem!) have access to. Just as
some people roll their own cigarettes. And then there are the Marlboro
masses, who get their songs just like they get their cancer sticks,

But, of course, the "paradigm shift" was supposed to be that people had
stopped downloading freely and were battering Apple's iTunes server
farms with demands to give money to the music monopoly mafia. 

But as it turns out the pay-for-play revolution is just a little less
sweeping than we'd been led to believe.


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