My Thoughts On Music

I’ve read all the chatter in the tech blog community about Steve Jobs’ Thoughts On Music and I’ve read the comments on this blog and elswhere. The reaction to Thoughts On Music range from ecstatic (mine) to cynical and jaded. There are many who doubt Jobs’ declared preference for selling unprotected music. I don’t doubt it, but I think he can and must do more to drive this to its logical conclusion. Here are three things Apple must do immediately to build a vibrant online music distribution business where more than 3% of all music is bought online.

1) Start selling all music that can be sold unprotected that way immediately. The entire eMusic catalog is available in mp3. Those artists should be available in unprotected formats on iTunes today.

2) Don’t force the consumer to use a specific format. iTunes should offer music in whatever format the purchaser wants it in; AAC (Jobs’ preferred format), mp3, flac, and any other format that is popular.

3) Build a robust API into the iTunes music store so bloggers and music services can resell music from iTunes on the web. Today if you link to iTunes music, the person who clicks on the link goes through this horribly unfriendly un-Apple experience where they are forced to launch iTunes. Why is that necessary? Just authenticate the buyer and download the music via the web.

We’ve been locked in DRM wars and format wars for too long. And the online music business has suffered from walled gardens that don’t interoperate the way web services do. It’s time to change those things. Apple has led the way to date. They must finish the job.