Many people have celebrated Apple's announcement that it has sold 5 billion songs on iTunes and it's the world's largest music retailer. Almost everyone in the world is calling this a major victory for Apple and one that we should all recognize as a milestone that deserves our praise.
But I don't.
To me, Apple's success with iTunes and its ability to sell 5 billion songs since its launch is an awful event. In fact, it's probably one of the worst stories I've read all year.
As just one of the millions across the globe who's being treated poorly by the music industry, why should I embrace this news and try so desperately to put a smile on my face?
Try as it might to do things the right way, iTunes is the result of countless negotiations with the record labels that continue to dislike everything we stand for and do everything they can to ensure that we're paying too much for a track that's locked down worse than anything we have ever witnessed in this business.
Why hasn't anyone realized that Apple's success with iTunes is the very reason we're being abused by the music industry in the first place?
Let's face it -- if iTunes wasn't nearly as successful as it is, the music industry would be forced to find new ways to sell music. Sure, the labels may not like Steve Jobs and they've turned their backs on him in the past, but iTunes is a cash cow for these companies.
Considering Apple has sold 5 billion tracks, the company has realized revenue of about $5 billion. Assuming the lion's share goes to the record labels, it's safe to say that iTunes has sent over $3 billion to the record labels assuming the $0.70 estimate is true.
And if it is, why would the record industry want to mess with a good thing?
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it's quite easy to see that we're all a victim of the success of iTunes. And to make matters worse, we're the reason iTunes is a success in the first place.
When you "buy" a song on iTunes, you're not really buying it. Instead, you're acquiring the license to listen to a song that can be taken away from you at any moment, can't be sent anywhere you'd like for it to be, and is subject to draconian copyright laws that see you paying too much for too little.
Of course, all of those attributes are the result of negotiations between Apple and the record labels. Instead of waking up and realizing the reality of its situation, the record industry chose to control its services as much as possible and create an environment that has set off a PR nightmare.
Or has it? Have I been wrong all along? Is the record industry really as wonderful as it wants us to believe? At this point, I don't know what to believe. I certainly think it deserves the hell I give it, but if Apple can sell 5 billion songs on iTunes and we sit here and watch the record industry benefit, maybe I'm in the minority.
I'm a firm believer that we should own each and every thing we buy. Why shouldn't I have the right to buy a song on iTunes and do what I want with it whenever I want? I don't think that's asking for too much and in reality, I think it's my right to do just that.
But because iTunes is such a success, we've given the record industry the license it needs to keep abusing its power and ensuring that we can't own music, nor can we transfer it from one place to another.
And why should the labels submit to our will? If the vast majority of people are more than willing to spend $0.99 on a track from iTunes with all of its DRM and ludicrous policies, why should the record industry change a blasted thing? They have us where they want us and there's nothing we can do about it.
Or is there?
The way I see it, purchasing songs on iTunes is only perpetuating our fight with the record industry and we're being forced into a situation where the more we buy, the worse it gets. So unless we stop supporting DRM and the abuse that comes along with it, we'll be forced to endure it.
It's time we all wake up and realize that the music industry is getting us without us even realizing it. Instead of paying the RIAA's meal ticket, we need to cut it off as soon as possible. If we don't, the music industry will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.
The choice is ours. Will we make the right decision?
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