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iPod as the new CD – iPayola to follow

From Wired News

The iPod could become the new CD, especially if Apple starts
offering cheap shuffle iPods pre-loaded with hot new albums or artists’
catalogs. Imagine a whole range of inexpensive, special-edition iPods
branded with popular bands containing a new album, or their whole

Flash-memory drives are now so cheap, software companies are
starting to use them to ship software. H&R Block, for example, is
selling the latest version of its tax-preparation software on a flash
drive for $40 — the same price as the CD version. How much would it
cost Apple to add a few music chips and some cheap earbuds?

Apple was prevented from doing this until now by the 15-year-old contract
between Apple Corps, the Beatles’ music company, and Apple Computer.
This contract precluded Jobs’ Apple from acting as a music company and
from selling CDs or "physical media delivering prerecorded content …
(such as a compact disc of the Rolling Stones’ music)."

Apple has been selling music as downloads for years, of course, but
thanks to this clause, the company couldn’t sell an iPod with music
already loaded onto it.

That’s why the U2 special-edition iPod ships with a voucher for
downloading the band’s catalog online. The Beatles contract prevents
Apple from pre-loading the U2 iPod with U2’s music.

That is undoubtedly going to change. Apple will soon offer a range of iPods pre-loaded with tunes.

First up will likely be the widely rumored Beatles special-edition
Yellow Submarine iPod, tipped to be released in just over a week on
Valentine’s Day.

Beatles fans are hoping that the Fab Four’s entire catalog,
currently being remastered, will be available in uncompressed format.
What better way to deliver it than preloaded onto an iPod, instead of
forcing fans to download gigabytes of data from iTunes?

Apple will also start loading sample tunes onto all new iPods, just
like Microsoft’s Zune currently does. This will be extra cash for
Apple, and possibly quite lucrative — the labels will pay to play.
Getting a band’s new single loaded onto a hot-selling iPod could prove
so desirable that a new type of payola is born.

Then there will be all kinds of new limited-edition iPods, branded
by artist, band or genre. Boxed sets are a natural: the Rolling Stones
Sticky Fingers iPod, the Motown iPod, the British Invasion iPod.

But most exciting, there may be a whole range of dirt-cheap iPod
shuffles branded by artist, containing their new albums or portions of
their catalogs.  These cheap album iPods could be sold at bus stations and airports:
instant music, no computer required. Bands could sell pre-loaded iPods
at concerts, maybe containing the concert they just played. There could
be Broadway show iPods, movie soundtrack iPods and iPods burned at
retail stores with custom play lists.

It’s going to be the biggest change to the iPod since the iTunes online store debuted in 2002.

Hat tip to Jeremy Horwitz at iLounge for first floating this idea.

We Welcome Your Comments


4 replies
  1. keith houston says:

    Sounds interesting, but I am wondering if people are willing to plop down the money for more than one iPod, regardless how cheap they are. A disposable iPod? Do we need more waste? Can they be resold, like used CDs?. It would be cool to purchase the “Rolling Stone Flash drive” loaded with the entire cataloge, videos, liner notes, etc., but how the hell could any money be made once those awful pirates get there hands on the files?

  2. matteo cellini says:

    yeah, I mean I’d personally never do that. If you’re talking about a complete discography, so gb of music then obviously that makes more sense…but I’m still skeptic

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