Hey music business! What up?

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Seth Godin’s thoughts on the mistakes made in the music business is spot on.  Apple is one company that has actually benefited from the switch to digital music, or so they say. That seems right.  When I bought my first iPod, about four years ago, I had an ‘Ah ha!’ moment.  I re-discovered my love for music, an epiphany that paved the way for me to switch my computing life completely to Apple.  Yes, Apple completely understands our love for digital music. 

Or does it?

A few weeks ago my brother visited me from Panama.  One of his goals was to buy an iPod and open an account on the iTunes music store.  He already had an iPod that I’d given him, and which I had loaded up with all my music.  Even though the iPod had 40 GBs of tunes he quickly became dissatisfied.  He wanted to buy his own music.  But, because Apple doesn’t allow people in Panama to use the iTunes music store, he had to resort to using illegal services like Limewire.  While it was free, he wasn’t satisfied because the quality of the files he acquired wasn’t always good, and it was too cumbersome to transfer the music to his iPod.  He wanted to buy music legally, but he simply couldn’t do it.

So I set him up with an account that has my U.S. based credit card.  Now he can buy music (which I pay for, although he claims he’ll pay me back).  :)  And so now he’s happy. He says he’s re-discovered his love for music.  Too bad his friends in Panama (or the rest of Central and South America) can’t do the same.

Meanwhile, as my brother was buying a new iPod nano, I was buying a satellite radio. It was an impulse purchase so I really had no idea how much I would like it. The quality of the sound is great, and I now have a steady stream of new music pouring into my house. I am absolutely blown away.  As soon as I hear something I like I walk over and look at the display to find out who the artist is and the song name.  At first I was tempted to buy every new song I liked, but I kept myself in check.  Why buy the music?  I already own lots of music.  As long as I’m hearing lots of new stuff I’m perfectly happy.  As long as I’m in the United States, that is.

The satellite radio won’t work in Panama when I go down there to visit my brother.  Oh well, maybe one day the music industry will be all smoothed out and we’ll be able to have our music wherever and whenever we want to.

  • rcs

    I was looking for an explanation of the iTunes/Panama lockout (I’m guessing it’s a recording industry licensing issue) and found this article on accessing music from other countries (Japan in this case.) Basically, you can switch countries and PREVIEW music you wouldn’t normally have access to but you can’t purchase it.

    The workaround is to get a prepaid iTunes card from the country in question; Japanese music fans apparently have a little fan network dedicated to just that. Cool!

  • http://www.canton.elegal.ca David Canton

    I have been listening to satellite radio recently as well, as it came with my new car. The sound quality is great, and I like the diversity of the available music channels. I’m not sure though that I can justify paying $15.00 per month for it once my free initial subscription expires.

  • http://www.ernietheattorney.net Ernie

    David: The monthly subscription for Sirius is $12.99 per month. That was the thing that kept me from getting interested. But now that I’ve used it I can say that it’s worth it, if for no other reason than I was spending at least that amount on iTunes music. Plus, you can get a lifetime subscription for $400, which is a good deal if you figure you’ll use it for a couple of years. And that lifetime subscription is transferable (for a $75) fee to other radios, which is good if the radio goes bad or you want to upgrade.

  • Bruce

    You may enjoy building your own “radio station” at pandora.com

  • Bruce

    You may want to try Pandora.comYou can create your own station based on musical traits.

  • http://www.craigball.com Craig Ball

    Hi Ernie:

    I love my Sirius radio. Makes driving less of a chore, and as I’m a Broadway buff, it allows me to listen to samples of the scores of shows before I see them. So much more enjoyable to see a show when you know and love the music.

    But why do you think your satellite radio wouldn’t work in Panama? I’d assumed that if you can “see” the satellite, you can hear the stream.Regards,Craig

  • http://www.ernietheattorney.net Ernie

    Craig:

    As usual, you’re right. As I found out, Sirius and XM Radio don’t publicize the fact that there is coverage outside the US, but it appears that there is: http://radio.about.com/od/satelliteradio/a/aa070606a.htm

    However, it looks like the ‘unofficial coverage’ doesn’t quite extend down to Panama. http://tinyurl.com/24kgpl Sigh