Reader Feedback Request: Should Apple get into the Music Business?

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itunes.jpgThere is an interesting rumor floating around this morning that I think is worth discussing. Not so much because of the validity of the sources, because they have no history of being reliable, nor any solid confirmation – BUT – I think the rumor poses an interesting question.

The rumor is that Jay-Z, current CEO of Def Jam records, is going to leave Def Jam, and form a “super label” with Apple.

Whether there is any validity to that or not is anyone’s guess, but Apple would have the ability to do this since winning the lawsuit with Apple Corps.

So, rumor aside, the question is…should Apple get into the music business?

With iTunes, iPods, and iPhones basically ruling all in the digital music domain I can see where this idea might be appealing to Apple (especially since they would probably like to actually make some money off of all those iTunes sales), but it seems to me that this would be a bad move that would only serve to further alienate the record labels from iTunes. Now, those labels, in my opinion, don’t have much of a choice as far as being in iTunes is concerned (I mean, show me another digital music store that has even come CLOSE to iTunes sales), but Apple could find themselves in a position that is a huge conflict of interest if they choose to go down this route at some point in the future.

Does anyone see a way where this could be a good thing for Apple and iTunes? To me, the entire concept is creeping with problems that might be more trouble than they would ultimately be worth.

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11 thoughts on “Reader Feedback Request: Should Apple get into the Music Business?

  1. I think it could work if Apple was more of a silent partner, and just worked the distribution end and left the rest of it alone. I think they could make some serious good press by making sure the artists get paid real $$$.

  2. I think it’s a great thing.

    People may look down on it at first for two reasons:

    1) They are starting with Jay Z and Beyonce’, if they said Green Day, there would be “no problem”. Sorry, people are still a tad racist nowadays…even though Jay Z and Beyonce’ are very famous, popular, and bring in a lot of money.

    2) Any time Apple does something that doesn’t have the word “Mac” in front of it, some Apple zealots have a coronary thinking that Apple “has forgotten about computers”.

    Sorry, Apple wouldn’t have the money, stock worth, mindshare, and outlook that they have right now if they just stuck with updating Macs. They have to expand, but correctly. So far, they are. They are not bumbling around like Microsoft, failing at everything that they do outside of Windows/Office. They are not out of sync like Sony. They take there time and make great products, from hardware to software.

    The sooner that people understand that Apple is actually a big company (worth $116 billion), the sooner they will realize: Apple is out for everyone’s cookies that are in their path. Apple has goals to do things certain ways. They wanted an MP3 player for the Mac. They went to Creative to get them to help make it. Creative turned them down, so Apple made their own…the iPod.

    Apple usually does something good for the industries that they thread in. I can’t wait to see if this is true, and to see what Apple has in store.

    I think it’s a good thing.

  3. It has pros (make money, bypass music labels, pay artists what they deserve) and cons (annoy music labels, occupy company resources, less clear market position to the consumer).

    I’d say it’s a no go, unless they keep things really simple (don’t do much more than distributing the songs, and leave the music making to the artists and their managers)

  4. BAD IDEA!

    I can’t imagine Jobs getting the company into something like that.
    While Apple is good at distributing music, I think the actual music business is outside his “area of expertise”.

  5. @ Rick O’Neil: he does make movies with pixar and disney though… whats wrong with doing music too? 😉

  6. I can’t see this happening, Jay-Z would naturally like to be in control, whereas Apple would want to as well. I don’t see him leaving a ceo position for just another spot on a labels roster.

    Could be interesting, but I doubt it.

  7. I forgot to add, the only way I can see this really working well is if it was for independent artists that couldn’t get distribution deals. For big name artists I think its a bad idea but for the no names I think its perfect.

  8. I guess for me I just don’t want Apple to be stretched too thin. Some company’s try to be good at everything and end up being good at nothing. I don’t want to see overall quality compromised.

  9. It is probably true that pissing off the major labels and having them leave iTunes would be bad for Apple, the labels and for music fans – but there could be a way for Apple to have success as a label. I think they could avoid upsetting the labels by not going after the big name acts but instead the smaller ‘indie’ groups. For example, if the rumor is half true and Jay-Z is not actually leaving Def Jam, but just providing some funding and credibility to a new, small independent which Apple is the sole or primary distributor.

    I think Jobs and Apple may be seeing that iTunes can be _the_ place to go for the ‘long tail’ of music. For example, with electronic music, I’m always surprised at how much they have, yet I know there is so much more out there that isn’t available on iTunes. This is the one thing that keeps my wife from being a huge iTunes fan – she actually has to go to the DJ’s sites and download what the DJ puts up. There are many independent artists putting music up on iTunes – and Apple can do well to push that niche about 100 times further.

  10. If Jobs wants to start up a music company, fine. Just don’t do it with Apple money or Apple resources.

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