Apple’s iTunes Turns 10.

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I was a typical iTunes consumer. Since it was launched 10 years ago I used it often to download songs, but not as much as I used to.

Today however there are so many other options, such as free online radio services Pandora and iHeartRadio, music-listening on YouTube and on-demand services including Spotify and Rhapsody that let you listen to millions of complete songs for a monthly fee.

Now as Apple prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the iTunes Music Store on Sunday, it sees a radically different music landscape not as predicated on downloads.

Ten years ago, record stores were in full force (although hurting) and music downloading was something young folks did at pirate websites. The introduction of iTunes, where all songs were 99 cents and could be easily transferred to an iPod, made downloading mainstream.
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“We thought if consumers had a great, legal way to download music, they would embrace it,” says Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue. “Apple was floored, as were the labels, when customers bought over 1 million songs during the first week.”

The iTunes Store launched with 200,000 songs and now has 26 million. Within 10 years, it would become the top retailer of music, selling more music than Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy. Record store chains Tower and Sam Goody are out of business.

When Apple reported its quarterly financial results this week, it said it sold a record $4.1 billion worth of media on iTunes, but that includes music, movies and TV shows, books and apps. In 10 years, some 25 billion songs have been sold on iTunes. Less clear is how long the music download party will continue.

“There is a major shift to how consumers consume music, and it’s driven by the smartphone,” says Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

The ubiquitous smartphone — whether it be the iPhone, an Android model, or a recent BlackBerry or Windows phone — has storage for our contacts, a Web browser and the ability to listen to multitudes of songs over the air.

The iTunes store dominated by downloads “is on its last gasp,” says Bob Lefsetz, a former music industry lawyer and blogger at the Lefsetz Letter. “YouTube is where most young people listen to music now.” (More than 1 billion people visit the site each month.)

“When iTunes turns 15 years old, we won’t be talking about downloads, because Apple won’t be selling them,” he says.

Apple until now has resisted expanding beyond downloads, saying consumers wanted to own songs, not “rent” them.

But this year, perhaps as early as June, it is expected to unveil a personalized radio service similar to the popular Pandora (which has 200 million registered users) that would get prominent display on Apple devices.

When the service analysts have called “iRadio” launches, downloads will no longer be as dominant, says Ted Cohen, a former executive with record label EMI who runs the Tag Strategic consulting firm. “People will say, `Why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ Apple wasn’t the first to have music downloads. But when iTunes Store launched, people acted like it hadn’t been done before, because Apple did it so well.”
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In a sign of the times, Apple appears to be testing the waters for online streaming. In iTunes now, a preview of country singer Kenny Chesney’s new Life on a Rock album can be listened to in its entirety online — several days before the album is available as a download sale. Earlier this year, Apple streamed new albums from Justin Timberlake and Depeche Mode.
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Yet despite the acclaim for music services such as Spotify and Pandora, downloads still dominate how consumers obtain digital music, says Russ Crupnick, an analyst at researcher NPD Group.

According to the worldwide music trade group, the IFPI, some $5.6 billion was spent on digital music in 2012, with downloads accounting for 80%. Revenue from music services grew from 14% in 2011 to 20% in 2012.

Customers of services such as Rhapsody (with over 1 million subscribers) and Spotify (5 million) are in major population centers, NPD’s Crupnick says, and they don’t care as much about owning music. Elsewhere, though, “there are tens of millions of people who still, even if it’s on a phone, still want their iTunes collection,” he adds.

NPD gives Apple a 63% market share for music download sales in the most recent fourth quarter, compared with its closest competitor, Amazon, at 22%. Last year 44 million Americans bought at least one song track or album download, a statistic that has remained stable over the last three years, Crupnick says.

“If downloads were still important, we’d all need more storage,” Lefsetz says. “Apple knows which direction this is going.”

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My American business hero died today…Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs the innovative co-founder of Apple who transformed personal use of technology as well as entire industries with products such as the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Macintosh computer and the iTunes music store, died today.

The iconic American CEO, whose impact many have compared to auto magnate Henry Ford and Walt Disney— whom Jobs openly admired — abruptly stepped down from his position as CEO of Apple in August because of health concerns. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, a former Apple board member, called Jobs the best CEO of the past 50 years — perhaps 100 years. I would agree…he has become almost a cult hero among all of us in the tech community.

A seminal business and technology leader, Jobs’ success flowed from a relentless focus on making products that were easy and intuitive for the average consumer to use. His products were characterized by groundbreaking design and style that, along with their technological usefulness, made them objects of intense desire by consumers around the world.

He was known as a demanding, mercurial boss and an almost mystical figure in technology circles as well as American popular culture. Author and business consultant Jim Collins once called Jobs the “Beethoven of business.” He was one of the figures who made Silicon Valley the capital of technological innovation and related venture capital fortunes.
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He revolutionized the computing business with Mac, he revolutionized the music business with iTunes and he turned the telephony business on its ear with the iPhone. He reinvented several businesses too, Pixar gave animation a whole new life. A fact that I just learned today as a retailer, Apple Stores are the most profitable per square foot retail spaces in the world.

And finally as a marketer…my former ad agency network produced the advertising for Apple and without a doubt created some of the most outstanding commercials in the industry for the Apple Brand. Who does remember the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial or the iconic “think Different” campaign.
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Jobs’ work at Apple and other projects made him a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine in 2011 at $8.3 billion. He was No.110 on Forbes’ list of billionaires worldwide and No.34 in the United States, as of the magazine’s March 2011 estimates.

It will surely be missed and everyone has to wonder who will lead Apple not just in the Boardroom but in the “kitchen” where the ideas are created.

Duran Duran’s 13th album, “All You Need is Now”

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I am very eager to see how Duran Duran’s new album does. I worked with Simon LeBon a bit in the studio in Japan in the mid 90’s and never doubted how truly talented he was as both a singer and songwriter.

To move forward, sometimes you have to go backward. That was the guiding principle that helped members of DuranDuran recapture the spirit of their early days on their 13th studio album, All You Need is Now, which debuted at No. 2 this week on iTunes’ album download chart .

“Most bands have difficult second-album syndrome. Not us, we had difficult third-album syndrome,” says lead singer Simon LeBon, referring to 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. “So this album is the sequel to Rio that never happened.”

“What’s great about Duran Duran is that they don’t get complacent,” says Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield, author of the recent memoir Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. “For their new album, they forged ahead by returning to their classic sound. This is classic Duran Duran. They’ll keep old fans and make new ones.”

Reviving that early sound was a long time coming. “Our last album (2007’s Red Carpet Massacre, which sold about 71,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan) was underwhelming,” says Taylor, 50. “We worked with Timbaland, and we yielded to that hip-hop style of production. We came out feeling like we’d surrendered our personalities. We were hijacked by the remix.”

The various group members all have had some success with side projects: Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor recorded one album as Arcadia in 1985, while John Taylor and Andy Taylor formed The Power Station, a group that included Robert Palmer.

Now it’s 2010, and core members Le Bon, Rhodes and John and Roger Taylor say they’re feeling confident about a return to greatness with the new album. “We’re Duran Duran! Remember us?” Le Bon says. “We’re the ultimate party band, we got you dancing. And now we’ve got something to make your Christmas go off with a bang.”
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Night out in Tokyo with the band. They actually practiced their old songs using Karaoke the night before their first Japan show.
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Backstage at Tokyo International Forum.

Finally Fab Four on iTunes!

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The Beatles finally are making their debut on iTunes.

On Tuesday, Apple announced a deal with representatives of the Beatles and the group’s record label, EMI Group, to put the entire catalog of Beatles music in the iTunes Store.

“We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a statement. “It has been a long and winding road to get here.”

For years, The Fab Four have been the most notable holdout from selling their collective digital music in Apple’s popular iTunes store even though solo recordings by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison are available.

But Tuesday’s announcement brings the British pop royalty into the digital realm in a major way.

“It’s a very big deal,” says Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies. “It’s a symbolic milestone.”

While the Beatles music has been available for four decades on vinyl, cassette, 8-track and CD, its migration to iTunes makes it more easily available to those who don’t own the songs in those other formats.

“It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around,” said Sir Paul McCartney.

All 13 of the group’s remastered studio albums are available for $12.99, or as double albums for $19.99. Individual songs can be downloaded for $1.29 each.

It’s not like owners of Apple iPods, Zunes and other mp3 haven’t been able to get the music onto their devices. All they had to do was copy their CDs to the computer and transfer the music.

“But there’s a value to saying ‘We’re the first to have the Beatles online,” says Mike McGuire, an analyst with Gartner. “Have you ever downloaded something you were pretty sure you had somewhere else? I know I have. Apple will sell lots of Beatles downloads.”

Paul Resnikoff, editor of the Digital Music News blog, says the Beatles on iTunes will appeal to the older demographic who never got with the program of ripping CDs. “A 16-year-old, if they’re interested, already has the music on their iPod, and figured out how to get it there. A 66-year-old may not know how to download the entire catalog in 30 minutes, and may really be interested in getting it from iTunes.”

Yikes I guess they think us geezers can’t do anything digitally.

Apple “Pings” Facebook With ITunes-Based Social Network

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Even Apple, which lives in a bubble of its own device-centered success, can’t resist the lure of social networking. Today, CEO Steve Jobs formally thrust the company into the social-media fray with an iTunes-based network, Ping.

Why would Apple want to get into social networking?

It’s where consumers are spending most of their internet time, and Apple has millions of iTunes customers as an instant revenue stream. “We think this will be really popular very fast because 160 million people can switch it on today,” Mr. Jobs said during his keynote, where he also announced a version of iOS 4 for the iPad and a new $99 version of AppleTV, with 99-cent TV and $4.99 movie rentals.

But the creation of Ping thrusts Apple into an entirely new market, one dominated today by Facebook, with Google on the outside and peering in eagerly. Jobs said Ping will have all the social-networking features we have come to expect, such as friends, photo and video sharing, and of course privacy gradations. But the biggest angle for Ping is the way it’s centered around sharing and shopping for music. With the latest software update, every single user of iTunes — those 160 million customers — could turn on Ping today.

“The ambition for Ping is not to compete with Twitter and Facebook; they just want you to buy more,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “Even if the existing customers buy just one or two more tracks a month because their friends recommended them, Ping is a huge success for Apple.”

Because customers are buying, and Apple isn’t dependent on ad revenue, the tech company is not as concerned as Facebook and Google with how much time consumers spend on the service. “Because Facebook’s revenue stream is based on advertising, the measure of success is the length of time users remain in Facebook,” McQuivey said. “But Ping’s revenue stream is iTunes, not advertising.”

Built into Ping’s features — among them what you would expect, such as what your friends are listening to, where your favorite musicians are performing — are many “Buy” buttons. This purchase feature is already at least one step ahead of Facebook, which has a fledgling Facebook Marketplace that has not shown much movement. Facebook sells Facebook credits for use in the Marketplace and games, but compared with iTunes, that revenue is spare change.

MySpace has used music discovery and its network of music fans and artists as its last bulwark against obsolescence. If, as Mr. Jobs hopes, artists begin congregating on Ping, it could accelerate MySpace’s decline. Mr. McQuivey says he sees new artist discovery beginning on YouTube, then going on to iTunes or Amazon, bypassing MySpace altogether. For artists that don’t have music videos, they or their fans tend to upload songs to YouTube along with static images. In this sequence of discovery, Ping is more of a competitor to YouTube.

Privacy could also be an issue for Ping, given that Apple has some pretty sensitive information on iTunes customers, including credit-card information, past purchases and, well, what’s on their iPods and iPhones.

Because many users will have already shopped on iTunes before, Ping can be much more direct and honest that it will use this purchase information to try to sell them more product. With the Genius feature, iTunes has already been suggesting music purchases based on users’ music libraries.

Prince: The Internet is dead

The music industry might be embracing digital and online technology, but Prince is not convinced that it’s a good thing.
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“The Internet’s completely over,” Prince told British tabloid publication, The Mirror, in his first newspaper interview in 10 years. “I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

Prince is currently set to release his latest album, “20Ten,” for free through various European print media, including the Daily Mirror and its Scottish affiliate, the Daily Record. Fans can snag their copy this Saturday via the different press outlets, but you they certainly won’t find any of the new material online.

Prince has banned both YouTube and iTunes from using his music, calling the web obsolete.

“The Internet’s like MTV,” he told the mirror. “At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Plans for a “20Ten” in the States haven’t been announced. What do you think, is Prince on the verge smart new alternative for releasing albums or does his approach seem misguided? I think it’s a marketing ploy, millions of folks will be on Google looking for the music now.

iTunes University

The wisdom of business professors, once only available to MBAs and business students, can now be accessed by anybody with an Internet connection.
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Hundreds of universities, and a growing number of business schools, are making recordings of lectures, seminars and conferences available to the general public via Web sites such as iTunes and YouTube.

Leading business schools including University of Cambridge Judge Business School, Fuqua School of Business, and Yale School of Management make course content available for download through iTunes U, part of the of the iTunes online store.
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That means those whose budget won’t stretch to a two-year MBA can simulate the experience at home — or at work, in the gym or anywhere else they choose. And even better for money-conscious learners, the iTunes U content can all be downloaded free of charge.

French business school HEC Paris is due to launch its iTunes U content in the next few months, but it has been running an ambitious podcast program since 2006.

Begun as an experiment in partnership with Apple, all new MBAs at HEC are provided with an iPod Touch. Around half of the MBA lectures are filmed using an automatic camera system and the footage is made available for students to download and view on their iPhones.

Vanessa Klein, HEC’s project manager for iTunes U said that the iPod-enabled curriculum has proved a hit with students. As well watching lectures, she said the students’ own presentations are recorded and made available for download so they can review their performance.

She says one teacher noticed that each year his MBA students would ask the same questions after his end-of-course summary, so he made a podcast of recurring questions and answers. After encouraging students to come up with new questions, he is now recording responses to those in an effort to compile a video archive of questions and answers.

Klein says that by making lectures available via iTunes U, HEC wants to be at the forefront of providing content for the rest of the world, but she acknowledges that the technology is also a great way to promote the business school.

“It’s a good marketing tool, not as publicity but to really show people what we are providing,” Klein said.

“You can watch a lecture, learn a lot and think ‘I wish I could be there.’ The idea is to show what you could learn if you were at this place.”

The University of Oxford says there have been more than one million downloads from its iTunes U site, while Stanford University says its course on creating iPhone applications was downloaded more than one million times in just seven weeks.

This week’s most popular business download on iTunes U is a University of Oxford lecture called “Entrepreneurship and the Ideal Business Plan.” I will download that today.

It may not get as many downloads as Michael Jackson’s posthumous single, but it should prove more useful when it comes to getting a business off the ground.