Apple, as we know it, was built on music. It was the launch of the iPod that made the company the colossus it is now, and with this launch, apple changed the music industry forever. It did not only define the standards for modern MP3 players, but also for the way music is distributed, inventing a whole new market channel in the process.
Apple re-used the same formula later, with the iOS and Mac App Stores, forever changing the way applications are distributed as well. Suddenly, similar marketplaces and ecosystems started popping up everywhere, whether created by competitors (Google, Microsoft), or irrelevant services (Steam, Pebble etc).
They also gave us Garage band, which is a pretty good tool for the creation of music. They bought Beats and more recently, in the iPhone 6 event, announced a new digital music format which will change the music industry yet again. So after a decade of success, they are going back to their (modern) roots, which is great. There’s one more thing missing though. Using the current ecosystem you can create, distribute and listen to music. But there’s no way to publish it.
Remember the golden age of MySpace? MySpace’s strongest point was the discovery of music. Names such as Arctic Monkeys (my personal favorite), Lily Allen, Soulja Boy, My Chemical Romance, Panic at the Disco, Breathe Carolina and more, made it big through MySpace. No other music service replaced MySpace in this manner, and now we are limited to YouTube to discover new artists. Unless Apple makes a move, that is.
Think about it like that. What if any artist could upload their music to the iTunes Store and set their price? Right now, you can only do this with the use of “aggregators” as Apple calls them:
Aggregators are experts in delivering content to iTunes. For a fee they can correctly format and deliver your content to Apple’s specifications. View Apple-approved aggregators.
If you meet all application requirements, you can sign up to offer your content by working directly with Apple. If you don’t meet the requirements or if you have other operational or financial needs, it may be best to work with an aggregator.
Aggregators are experts in delivering content to iTunes. They can also provide you with Universal Product Codes (UPC) and International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) and distribute your music across multiple channels. Apple pays the aggregator for sales, and the aggregator then pays the content owner.
So the aggregator is something like a middle-man. You give the aggregator a percentage of your sales, and in return they do distribution, marketing and other (mostly) unimportant things, which are remnants of the old music industry (which is dying a slow and painful death). Alas, we live in a DIY world. Developers create their games and apps, and upload them to the App Stores. And artists should be able to do the same.
First of all, we would have a lot of free music this way. Buying a new iPhone or iPad for the first time would be a whole different experience, as small artists would offer their music for free (which they cannot do now because the aggregators don’t gain anything), and the users would be able to spend a nice weekend discovering and downloading new music (remember there’s a preview feature in the iTunes Store). Also, we would have top charts for new artists, editor’s choices and more. Only difference is that there are no product and recording codes, but when was that an issue for MySpace?
The Indie Music Store, would mean true (or the closest thing to) independence in the music industry. The artist publishes, distributes and earns (or gets free publicity), and a new age of talent emerges in front of us.
Nobody (whom we care for) loses in this way. Apple offers a brand-new innovative service and re-defines the music industry once more. Bands and artists get a free and easy way to offer their music to millions of people, for free or for a price. And the users get their hands on a whole new world of music.
And of course, record labels can go f**k themselves. They never cared about the artists or the consumers anyway.