I just installed the new iTunes 4.0 and decided to check out Apple's new music store. I launched iTunes, clicked on the new "Music Store" icon and was taken to a web page that offered lots of stuff I might sample and buy. But there was one big, glaring problem with it.

Much of the music on that page is irrelevant to me. There's a wealth of information in my iTunes music library. Apple could use data about which music I own, how often I listen to various songs/artists/genres to make suggestions. You know, Amazon.com-style stuff.

I know why they don't do this by default (privacy), but the first time I visited, they really should have asked if they could use my music library and listening habits to better suggest music that I might want to try and possibly buy.

What are they thinking?

Amusingly, they even have a "Buy an iPod" link near the top of the page. Guess what, Apple. I own a 20GB iPod that's only 20% full. You could know this. I really have no need to buy another one right now.

There's so much potential here, yet so little of it is used.

On the plus side, at least Apple has the balls to try making the "pay for downloading music" model actually work. I give them a lot of credit for that.

Posted by jzawodn at April 29, 2003 12:28 AM

Reader Comments
# brandt said:

but what exactly are they selling? is it top 40 crap or is there some sort of selection?

on April 29, 2003 06:46 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Having seen your collection of music, I don't think there is a consistant enough pattern for an application to decipher. It's among the more eclectic I've come across.

on May 1, 2003 09:05 PM
# Scott St. John said:

That is the problem with music stores and even radio stations. DISCLAIMER: I am a dj for a rock station. END DISCLAIMER. The problem is they want to put people into groups - this group only likes Rush, this group only likes Britney Spears, this group only wants to listen to 50 Cents. What they fail to accept is that there are people who might actually want to hear 50 Cents and Rush and enjoy both.

on May 1, 2003 09:29 PM
# terry chay said:

Re: iTunes Music Service Selection. It is not just top 40 crap (In fact, there is no Madonna or Britney Spears available). Apparently it's about 100,000 songs with thousands added every week. The most popular downloads are U2, Coldplay, Eminem, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Sting, Beck, Jack Johnson, Kelly Clarkson, Fleetwood Mac, 3 Doors Down, Elvis Presely, and 50 Cent.

The selection is a bit spotty (missing tracks from albums, missing artists, missing albums) but it's a lot of (free) fun to spend time with a friend naming songs from the 80's (or whatever) and then seeing if you can find a 30 second sample of it to jog the memory of the other. The album artwork is a riot when you recall that 80's style. Some tracks are previously unreleased. The tracks available are only those where the big 5 hold the copyrights (no indies), but that is supposed to change.

Like the selection, I noticed that the pricing is inconsistent. All tracks that are avaible singly are .99 cents. This means that some classical music can be a real steal while you find some lemons like the "20th Century Fox Anthem" (20 seconds for $1). You run into things like the fact you can't get Don McClean's American Pie without buying the entire album--a CD I own for just one song--which makes you wonder if some people in the Music Industry have "got it" yet. Also pricing on the CDs vary between $8.99 to $25. With some crazies like $14.99 for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (9 tracks, but they put 3 of them as "album only" to keep you from getting it on the per/track price).

This means that this doesn't not completely replace a trip to the music store--especially if your tastes move to the ecclectic--but it is another avenue to buy music. If you think of it as a supplement instead of a substitute, you won't end up dissappointed with its selection. You need a credit card with a US billing address and a Macintosh with the latest OS X on it which prevents 99% of the world from using the service.

As for Jeremy's article, there is a limited Amazonness. First, the search box in iTunes becomes a Search Music Store box. Starting from there (note, there is a "Browse" button that most people miss but because you have to select Genre first, it is a frustrating experience), find a song and then it's album and then you will see a "Listeners who bought this also bought?" cross-sell as well as a hint on "Top Downloads" for the album.

Note that cross-selling of this type (Amazonian) involve a relationship algorithm that should do a good job of avoiding the "genre" complaint of Scott. People who have used Amazon or NetFlix should be well familar of being able to find some gems.

I agree the cross-selling barely scratches the surface of what it should be capable of (it should at least cross-sell based on my purchased music, there should be a way to browse other peoples list (a la Blog TrackBacks or Amazon Lists) etc).

But at 1 million downloads and 110,000 iPods ordered, it is on the fast path to becoming "crack" for music addicts.

Take care,


on May 7, 2003 12:02 PM
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