Artifact Politics

itunes_logo

Apple changed the world with the invention and deployment of iTunes, a technological breakthrough.  However, through exploring the political dimensions of iTunes it can be seen that the marketplace has had an authoritarian type of impact on the music business and artists in a negative way.

iTunes is the most used and downloaded digital music marketplace where users can upload and burn music from their own collections to play on their computers as well as purchase music, audio books, TV shows and movies from the iTunes store.  Users can buy music from iTunes from any apple product and PC’s, making it very convenient to make purchases on the go or if the desire to purchase a song strikes you at 2 a.m..  iTunes has given the consumer a very convenient and user friendly marketplace where they have the option to buy single songs off of an album as compared to before where you needed to purchase the entire physical cd or album from a store.  This makes a lot of consumers happy because they only want to listen to the hits and can bypass the “filler” songs.  iTunes has catered to the desires of the consumers of the market, made music much more accessible to consumers and made their consumers happy, however the impact iTunes has had on the record industry and for artists hasn’t been so kind.

iTunes political dimension is authoritarian in the music industry.  They are the number one seller of music, on track to (2) gross $18 billion dollars in 2014, it’s almost impossible for artists to not be a part of the iTunes community just for the traffic and exposure it brings.  The option to purchase just one song off of an albums, however, has impacted the artist by now only allowing them to receive royalties for that .99 cents or $1.29 from iTunes as compared to royalties from the $10.99 album as a whole.  After some research, off of a .99 cent song, the artist receives .0001 cents, less than a penny.  iTunes has made an effort to help artists out by raising the price of songs recently from .99 cents to $1.29 which from my research equated to the artist now receiving (3) .20 cents per song.  This has impacted the music industry as a whole by straining budgets for artists and made them less willing to invest money into new, up and coming artists.  This has led to cheaper production on new artists records, and a lack of incentive for artists to pursue music as a career.

Through iTunes’ authoritarian political dimensions, new artists have to accept they won’t be making much money off of record sales and must continue to find new outlets to get their music out.  Through the squeezing of artists iTunes creating the streaming market, where applications such as spotify exist.  Users can either pay $5/month for ad free content which spotify pays the artists royalties, or users can listen for free with advertisements popping up every now and again to have the money to pay the royalties that way.  Above that, spotify is shown to pay out higher royalties based on the number of streams the artists receive, averaging around (4) .20 cents per 60 streams for the artists.

Footnotes:

(1) iTunes logo, http://www.ianhardacre.com/when-itunes-has-split-an-album-by-track-artists/, 5 September 2013

(2)Juli Clover, http://www.macrumors.com/2014/07/22/itunes-by-the-numbers-q3/, 7/22/2014

(3 & 4)  Max H., https://thoughtsofmaxh.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/how-much-money-do-artists-make-from-itunes-or-streaming-services/, 8/6/2013

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