Apple strong-arms artists, labels for iTunes placement

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Artists hoping to find their way to front of the iTunes Store are quickly learning that Apple alone dictates what gets front-and-center placement -- and often demands sacrifices to match.



Exposing a frequently mysterious side of the iTunes Store, the Wall Street Journal has revealed the sheer influence Apple's online music store wields over artists.



Many musicians now consider the front pages of iTunes the key to success and consider the "splashes," "swooshes," and "bricks" -- the graphics and album panels that showcase music on Apple's store -- just as important as airplay on radio or TV, according to the financial paper. In some cases, groups such as Gnarls Barkley and The Shins have seen large portions of their music sales come solely through the site.



"MTV used to be the place where you had to have a video playing as one of the key legs of the stool [for success success]," says KCRW DJ and former iTunes consultant Chris Douridas. "iTunes is now one of the key legs of the stool."



Many are finding, however, that the cost of reaching the coveted position can be high. In contrast with many large retailers and online shops (including Real's Rhapsody), Apple typically avoids paid placement in an attempt to provide unbiased recommendations. In theory, this stymies major labels and others that would hope to buy their way to the top of the sales charts.



Shoppers used to believe that the recommendation from a store "was coming from someone who really liked it versus someone who was paid to say they liked it," observes Apple's iTunes VP, Eddy Cue.



In practice, artists are discovering that Apple is less than altruistic. Although often determined by staffers' tastes, promos are also granted to those who cut prices or provide exclusive tracks. Typically, the Journal notes, this comes under severe pressure from iTunes managers. Prince recently saw Purple Rain and other albums from his back catalog surge in popularity after a top spot on the iTunes Store during the Super Bowl -- but only after four albums were temporarily cut to $7.99.



Young pop star Lily Allen has even gone so far as to accuse Apple of "bullying" tactics. "[Apple] won't advertise your album unless you give them extra material," she complained during a radio interview. The California firm reportedly muscled Allen into producing a bonus song to attach to her latest album, spurring her to produce a "rubbish" alternate take on an existing track just to get to iTunes' center stage.



This aggressiveness has some of its roots in Apple's independence from music store sales, according to the report. While iTunes makes less than 40 cents on every 99 cent song, its bread-and-butter music player sales more than compensate. The iPod creator can afford to discount albums when it encourages more buyers, regardless of the actual revenue those buyers bring in.



The end result sets up Apple as a pressure valve for the music industry, strictly controlling the flow of music. This causes grief for many and ultimately gives Apple control over an artist's fortunes. This can be a potential benefit for those who draw the media giant's attention.



"When they [at Apple] do step out on a new artist, it's that much more meaningful," says Josh Deutsch, head of the independent label Downtown Records.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    fastredfastred Posts: 23member
    Lily Allen moans about everything.... How is it "bullying" for Apple to suggest that it will *promote* an artist by oh ... gosh... putting out some *promotional* tracks... wow!!



    I'd far rather that Apple focussed on promoting people willing to partner with them by providing exclusive material than just promote artists or music companies prepared to *pay* more to be promoted...



    Appleinsider shouldn't just blindly repeat the tosh that other media outlets report either - a bit of analysis wouldn't go astray....
  • Reply 2 of 32
    So to sum it up, the major labels are throwing their toys out of the pram because they can't easily fix record sales like they have always been able to.



    Lilly Allen can go shove it. Of course she's annoyed, her entire career is based on promotion and media coverage rather than talent.



    I could also go as far as saying that I probably couldn't tell the difference between her 'rubbish' song and all the other crap she produces, but I'm not that unkind.



  • Reply 3 of 32
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    gives Apple control over an artist's fortunes. This can be a potential benefit for those who draw the media giant's attention.



    the same could be said for ANY record company.



    how is this news?
  • Reply 4 of 32
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,591member
    I like her stuff but my wife does not.



    I don't believe asking for something extra you can't get anywhere else is too much to ask.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jonparadise View Post


    So to sum it up, the major labels are throwing their toys out of the pram because they can't easily fix record sales like they have always been able to.



    Lilly Allen can go shove it. Of course she's annoyed, her entire career is based on promotion and media coverage rather than talent.



    I could also go as far as saying that I probably couldn't tell the difference between her 'rubbish' song and all the other crap she produces, but I'm not that unkind.







  • Reply 5 of 32
    ianeftianeft Posts: 4member
    Here, here. what do you expect from a marginal artist with marginal talent. Considering the things she says about other artists. Lily should just take the gimmick and run. Christine Amphlett of the Divinyls did the hip street girl sexpot with more class and distinction. Get your mind right boo.







    p.s. How can Lily complain, when she sees more money per song through iTunes than she does through the regular sales channels, talk about biting the hand that is trying to feed you.





    What a spoiled prat.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    gargar Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    This aggressiveness has some of its roots in Apple's independence from music store sales, according to the report. While iTunes makes less than 40 cents on every 99 cent song,



    Shouldn't this be 4 cents instead of 40?

    Because if Apple got 40 cents of every song sold via the iTS, they would have earned a whopping 800 million dollar, just by musicsales alone!!!
  • Reply 7 of 32
    yamayama Posts: 427member
    What a load of old rubbish



    Is it strong arm tactics to ask for something in return when an artist wants you to advertise their stuff? Usually people pay to get advertisement. Apple is just asking for exclusive tracks rather than money in this case. Hell, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all do the same thing when they ask developers to provide exclusive content for cross platform games. I really can't see how this is bullying.



    As was pointed out in an Ars Technica thread, this actually works out better for artists because it's a matter of content rather than money, so the independent artists are on a level playing field with the big labels.



    And if Lily Allen wants to sell her fans "rubbish" just to promote her songs, then it sucks to be one of her fans. As Marcus Brigstocke said on The Now Show, Lily Allen is fast becoming the next David Blaine i.e. someone generally worthless and annoying.
  • Reply 8 of 32
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,061member
    Quote:

    So to sum it up, the major labels are throwing their toys out of the pram because they can't easily fix record sales like they have always been able to.



    Exactly. Thumbs up their asses....thumbs up their asses.
  • Reply 9 of 32
    abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,501member
    Man, is this a delight. Eight postings so far and not a neg against Apple. I must be dreaming.



    The only bug I have a crawling is the headline for the article, i.e., "Apple strong-arms artists, labes for iTunes placement." At first, I was prepared for another DJ payolla-like scandal. I guess "payolla" is redundant. Certainly, it seemed to me that this piece was something coming out of the 'Sopranos'.



    However, like all of you, I could't see what the down-side was. Apple did prolaim the iTunes Store as a means to help reduce illegal downloading and now seems to be doing more by getting us more for less. "Apple Strong-arms…?" Go figure.



    Incidently, if you haven't read the original article, do so. It is says a lot more and better. And if anything it makes Insider look more like a trash magazine than I would like it to be, particularly in the headline.



    http://online.wsj.com/public/article...html?mod=blogs
  • Reply 10 of 32
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    It seems to me that Apple say they don't want to be paid for placement on their home page. Instead they use it to highlight "special" things, such as extra tracks, free videos or whatever.



    Makes sense to me, plus this benefits the user.
  • Reply 11 of 32
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Hmmm...isn't this what Walmart does? Use its buying strength to get better prices for their customers? I like that no money changes hands but rather they ask for discounts that are passed on to the consumers.



    Vinea
  • Reply 12 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,656member
    First I have no idea who Lily Allen is, so I have to figure she is not that good. I listen to a large varity of music and I can not say I heard of any of her stuff. From that I will assume that this her beef with apple, she must feel she is not successful since she is not front and center in itune.



    Enough with that, Vinea hit the nail on the head, I rather see Apple negotiate better pricing for all of us in exchange for visiability for the artist. They are in a sence paying for advertising, the only difference is that Apple is not making the profits directly from the advertising dollars.



    I like this model better, the artist/label drops their prices the consumer wins and the artist wins if the consumer likes what they put out because they get more sales. Then those artists who put out garbage will lose since the consumers will not buy at any price.



    I think this is just another attempt by the music industry to try and undermind the consumer power through itunes and using Lily Allen and other artist as a mouth piece so it does not looking like the big bad music industry pressuring Apple
  • Reply 13 of 32
    Does Rolling Stone magazine "strong arm" artists for advertising placement in their magazine?



    Does U2 "strong arm" me for front row tickets to their concerts instead of nose-bleed?



    Does Toyota "strong arm" me into a Camry because I can't affort a Land Cruiser?



    Since when, in society, does anyone OWE us anything for no consideration on our part? I work for Symantec. I work hard. They pay me. Maybe I should talk trash about them because they actually want me to WORK for a paycheck!!! You know what's worse? You'll never believe this, but... they actually BULLIED me into going above and beyond my standard workload when they awarded me with Employee of the Year!! Someone should really do something about that -- the media should be alerted!!!



    Think about this. Prince was directly called out in the article. I know a LOT about Prince. I'm sure many of you do as well. Prince is NOT known to be bullied -- ever. You think Prince put his library up there and took cuts in album prices because he didn't want to? No. Truth be told, Prince has an excellent marketing mind. He has a spot coming up in the Super Bow... he'll be on one of the most-watched shows ever... Apple is playing an iTunes commercial... if he plays his cards right and puts his library up and lowers a few album prices the advertising momentum of all that (live show on most popular show / Apple Ad / New Album Library / Reduced Album Costs) in conjunction with Apple placing a Prince banner ad on their iTunes Store ... BRILLIANT!!!! Who's getting screwed? No one. Prince is making a LOAD of money... Apple is making money... you're getting Prince's music on the CHEAP!!! I fail to see where ANYONE is getting screwed out of anything?



    Well... I guess the only one getting the shaft would be the reporter who wrote that article. Obviously the reporter is one of those "big business and/or the rich" are evil and need to give us their wealth for no reason at all. We can't be rich, because we don't work our butts off, so big business should be rich either. That guy needs to stop focusing on trying to expose (ie., "make up") big business and start trying to fix the problems in his own life. If we all just focused on fixing OUR own problems OURSELVES, and stopped worrying about how much better everyone else has it we'd be one pretty rich group of people. I'm sure Prince doesn't sit around his house sulking about how so-n-so is too rich for their own good and they need to spread the wealth. Prince is more worried about working hard and EARNING what he has. If someone tried to screw him over, he finds a way to overcome. It's not easy, but it's possible.



    Or am I just way out in left field on this one?
  • Reply 14 of 32
    It must be 4 cents. I get $.637 to split after CD baby gets their cut from single sales of Kyria - Whispers In The Dark (check her out!).
  • Reply 15 of 32
    first of all... I AM AN ARTIST! AND I DO SELL MY MUSIC ON iTUNES HAPPILY!



    I will be the first person to tell you that 90% of my music sales come from iTunes downloads. I would be willing to add content or reduce pricing temporarily in exchange for front page promotion. I would do this gladly.



    Am I the only person who missed the fact that ITS FREE!!!! Apple is NOT charging artists for this service... so why the heck is ANYONE complaining about making money for basically nothing!?!?
  • Reply 16 of 32
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Apple wants to promote quality and have a little something extra special to get people to use their store?



    This is bad because?
  • Reply 17 of 32
    There are thousands of artists out there and millions of albums. How could Apple fairly represent each and every one of them in about an 1,000 x 2,000 pixel space? I would much, much rather see artists recommended by true audiophiles and artists that offer something more for the end user instead of the "top 40" [email protected] you hear on the radio. I can see the labels complaining, but an artist?! Wow, talk about ignorance.



    Dear Lily, you've got the same access to sell your music on iTunes just by getting your fans, if you have any, to type your name in the very prominent "Search iTunes Store" box. Try finding your favorite artist as easily in a retail store. Why don't you try advertising your own music, anybody can create a link on any web page directly to a particular song or album.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    breezebreeze Posts: 96member
    Sour grapes - get real!



    Apple changed the way the greedy record companies stifle, manipulate and control music and artists.



    Apple allowed millions of people to enjoy music and actually brought many artists that would never have gotten a fair deal from a major label - to the public's attention by shunning the monopolistic practices of the labels and indeed doing it the old way with care, involvement and personal enthusiasm. We all remember (don't we ) how bad the "music industry" was doing before Apple revolutionized the way music was distributed...



    If not for the idealism and personal conviction and action of Steve Jobs and Apple (which , without any doubt, would never exist , unless he was a devout music lover and enthusiast) we wouldn't have the huge surge of popularity and affordable availability that we all enjoy today. I don't think for a minute that Apple's motive's has anything to do with power or control, Apple has always believed in doing things with it's vision and logic implemented and delivered in a user friendly and simple way.



    In fact Apple's desire to keep prices down and rewarding companies or artists for helping achieve that should be applauded.



    There is no reason in the world for music or content prices to be high - the lion share of every sale goes to the record companies NOT TO THE ARTISTS. So stop whining and looking for things to point out. Apple doesn't make much money from music sales at all - the company benefits in many other ways ( as it should ) for contributing and spearheading the technological innovation and essential inroads of making music available to everyone with quality products and services.



    If anyone wants to see how greedy and dangerous these record labels are to the music and musicians they trap I suggest looking up some of the history of getting ripped off as it applies to : John Fogerty, Tom Petty, Chuck Berry and many more - also reading a book called HIT MEN www.amazon.com ( which tells it as it is).



    So lets respect that and if anyone doesn't like the way Apple does business - tough - Go hang with the suits - Music is not.



    It's easier to criticize than to innovate and before Apple put out the iPod and iTunes - No one was doing anything to save and deliver music at fair prices to everyone . Monster artists like JJ Cale, Ry Cooder, David Lindley and other greats were being dropped like flies by the majors (which controlled everything) for "not being popular ( read financially lucrative) enough anymore (read platinum)".



    So the very vison commitment and standard of excellence that Apple implements suddenly caused a lot of greedy people to say - me too I want a piece, but the way they want it is not by vision and ideal its by knocking Apple down.



    I am a musician engineer and producer have been for 30 years. Apple has always provided the best software hardware and innovation that embraces and caters to creativity and thats why it's always been the choice of musicians, graphic designers and all people who use technology to enhance the user and productive experience and get things done rather than get frustrated and bogged down by obstacles and power trips.



    It's Apple's Company and they will continue to run it as they see fit - The popularity and embracement of Apples products speaks for itself and so does the increase in market share - If you don't like it lump it.



    Most Apple users and switchers do.
  • Reply 19 of 32
    Given the recent victory over (or with) Apple Corps. Apple should take the opportunity to leverage its influence to subsidize studio time for various artists to record/master any additional exclusives that Apple seemingly favors over cash-for-placement.



    Three studios could be purchased/rented by Apple at the onset: 1) New York 2)Los Angeles 3)London. Two more studios could be opened there-after: 4) Miami [Latin Influence] 5) Memphis [or Country Capital, wherever it may be]



    This would allow Apple to exert influence within the industry, manage its iTS content, and provide a opportunity for independent acts by inviting bands/groups not carried by large labels.



    That?s my thought.



    Wil
  • Reply 20 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BEatMaKeR View Post


    first of all... I AM AN ARTIST! AND I DO SELL MY MUSIC ON iTUNES HAPPILY!



    I will be the first person to tell you that 90% of my music sales come from iTunes downloads. I would be willing to add content or reduce pricing temporarily in exchange for front page promotion. I would do this gladly.



    Am I the only person who missed the fact that ITS FREE!!!! Apple is NOT charging artists for this service... so why the heck is ANYONE complaining about making money for basically nothing!?!?



    Good to hear from the horse's mouth, this benefits the artist and changes the playing field to the advantage of the artist and comsumer.



    But it is not FREE, by lowing your price you take in less profits, assuming you would have sold just as many songs as if you kept the price the same, However, if you lower the price and sell twice as much you could eventually make more money in the end.



    So instead of advertising being an up front lost with no guarranty of a return, this model only cost you on each sale and the more sale you make the less the overall cost is to you.



    People realize this is a good thing, those who are complaining are not smart enough to realize it.
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