Consumers Flock to Apple Music Store

Apple today announced that users have purchased some 250 million songs from their iTunes Music Store (‘iTMS’). Daily downloads are hovering around the 250 000 mark, totalling some $500m annually. (Incidentally, although the press release proudly points to the store being available in ‘more than 70 percent of the global music market’, it’s still not here in Australia.)

That iTMS clearly establishes consumer willingness to pay for electronic music formats can no longer be questioned. The sheer volume of sales more than attests to that. However, it also means that when record companies speak of ‘diminishing [retail] sales’, they are going to be faced with more plausible explanations than those evil pirates or organised crime; namely, the proliferation of new online distribution models.

What’s curious is that Apple’s success isn’t rubbing off onto other online music stores nearly as much as one might expect. The Napster, Ninemsn and Walmart stores are reporting extremely disappointing sales levels. Then again, perhaps it isn’t so strange: a quick look at Walmart’s DRM requirements shows that downloaded music is not compatible with many portable music players, cannot be transferred between computers, and requires a slow, proprietary, and poorly featured media player to be used on the latest verion of Microsoft Windows. So much for digital ‘rights’ management. And to think: Ninemsn is pretty much the only online music store in Australia, faces no competition from iTMS, yet still struggles with lacklustre sales. The market speaks!