Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Apple Trying to Lock Up Indie Music Labels for Europe: Platform as Channel

VNUNet reports along with others that Apple will likely wrestle down a deal with independent music labels for distribution via iPods by the end of the week, with concerns about fixed-price shares a major stumbling block to be addressed. Not really hugely important as an industry-moving event, but significant in its own way as the iPod platform continues to gain leverage over competitive platforms for breadth of catalog coverage. It's funny to think what a Sony might have been able to do if it had been more foresightful with its own technology and music catalog capabilities: as popular as the iPod has become it is a clear descendent of the Walkman school of portable gizmos, a gap that Sony is only now beginning to fill (see Register article). More than many other leading technology companies Apple seems to "get" that technology platform providers, be it hardware, software or some useful combination, are becoming content channels in and of themselves, inspring more loyalty than any major record label could hope to engender. As in enterprise content, people who consume entertainment content are now largely distributor-agnostic, knowing that it's largely immaterial to the quality of the product that they consume. Will there come a day when major acts sign with Apple instead of a major record label? Or will a Verity or an Autonomy begin to market professional content directly to its institutional client bases? Stranger things have happened.
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