Aug 25


What started as the first successful online marketplace selling music and related media, has recently been focused on establishing new pop-icons, leveraging their traffic with co-branded promotions. iTunes is still the titan of online media, but while the Apple-run marketplace has been focused on film and television sales, new media technology platforms have been innovating and perfecting music release campaigning. Musicians use sites like and to host CD Release, and private listening parties prior to releasing their albums to market. These and similar techniques have been very successful for artists, generating plenty of social buzz and blog coverage, surrounding their album release.

The trend-setting futurist group DEVO released their 2010 LP “Something For Everybody” at an event they called “Cats Are Something For Everybody” on Ustream. The concept - DEVO would debut their album to room full of playful cats and kittens while broadcasting the live kitty coverage with a looping HD stream of their entire album. The campaign saw great success and set a creative precedent for the rest of the music industry to follow.

So needless to say I was very surprised this morning when I saw this headline grace the iTunes home page “STREAM ENTIRE ALBUM FOR FREE.” What’s that you say? “FOR FREE?!!” Please, someone tell iTunes that I have been listening to music for free for over a decade now, and that streaming entire albums “FOR FREE” prior to release is old news. Alternatively, I am excited to see the Media Giant putting a new twist on their typical “iTunes Exclusive” sharking of big releases (See Paste Magazine’s Article on Watch The Throne Breaking iTunes Sales Record). An offer to stream an unreleased album in big letters right next to a big “Pre-Order” purchase link is simply not enough for fans. I would rather listen to an album streaming direct-to-fan “FOR FREE”, and be able to pre-order a CD or Vinyl copy of an album with a complimentary digital download any day of the week (Even this guy knows that?! Services like Topspin Media, have created very profitable business and technology models for bands to follow while integrating with their sleek platform; and guess what? Topspin takes half as much money from music sales than iTunes.

To wrap up, leave it to the innovators, risk-takers, and noise-makers, to create new and engaging ways for the music industry to remain profitable; and then watch the giants adopt their standards years later. Kinda makes you feel bad for the big oafish profit-focused players that are to slow to keep up with the true brains of the music industry…

Kudos to the little guy. 

Dear iTunes,
Thanks for the free stream. I appreciate the complimentary use of your bandwidth. However I will be waiting to sync the album to my phone on Rdio, along with the myriad of other albums that I enjoy throughout this month for less than the price of your “cleverly” marketed pre-order offer.


Justin Glenn Davis is the Lead Strategist as Oniracom in Santa Babara, CA
Follow him on Rdio and on Twitter @JustTheDavis