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No, We’d Rather Shake You Down for More

August 29th, 2008

MacDailyNews reports on a WSJ article (behind a pay firewall, so read it at MDN instead), the gist of which is this: music labels resent the fact that iTunes sells songs one at a time, and despite its enormous success and domination of the digital music sales market, are pulling popular songs off the service because they want to force consumers to buy the whole album.

Imagine you like to drink Coca-cola, but instead of being able to buy a bottle, you instead have to buy a twelve-pack with one Coke and eleven other drinks, maybe only one or two of which you actually would want. Imagine you want to buy a new book, but you can’t unless you also buy a dozen other books you have no desire to read.

Now, there are some cases where buying an omnibus is necessary. You have to buy a whole magazine or newspaper for one article, for example. But that’s not because of forced bundling, that’s the nature of the product. And there are no technical reasons why you can’t buy music one track at a time; indeed, Apple has shown that such a model works impressively well. Instead, this is a matter of choice from the seller, making the cola and book analogies above appropriate in this case.

So this is about one thing, and one thing only: using the leverage of one good product to sell a bulk package consisting mostly of sub-standard products which will mostly go unused. In short, it’s a 1000%-or-more price hike. I’m sure that’ll discourage pirating.

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