Is Apple a Music Business Totalitarian?

Beats by Apple

Written by McKinley Watson. Media by Deloy Cole.[divide]

Note: Originally posted on the Greenville College Music Business Blog.

With all the gray areas surrounding the Music Business and the laws making the industry go round, there is one question that is beginning to emerge:[divide style=”2″]

Is it possible to own the music business?

[divide style=”2″]Billboard’s Shirley Halperin poses a similar question in her recent article, Apple Doesn’t Want to Compete — It Wants to Own the Record Business.

Our iPhones, laptops and tablets are a hub for our personal, digital presence. We want convenience. We want availability and accessibility. Apple has become the trademark for such convenience. They have created a market for convenience technology, that also happens to arrive in sleek packaging. It is an innovative company that has managed to become a household name and necessity.


It has been argued that Apple is not a major player in the music business. They are a technological company, focused on getting ahead with the next cutting edge device and operating software. Others believe that Apple knows what they have gotten themselves into. Their arguments center upon the 2013 release of iTunes Radio, a free streaming radio service and the purchase of Beats Music and Beats Electronics — making Dr. Dre and Jimmy Lovine Apple employees. In light of these major, music industry moves, Billboard’s Halperin makes a notable point while speaking with an Apple insider at the 2015 Grammy Awards:

“Apple’s presence in the music business is to BE the music business; it’s not to compete with Spotify.’ The proof is in the 800 million credit cards it already has on file — comparably, Spotify has 15 million subscriptions and 60 million monthly users, although the service is growing, headed to an initial public offering.”

Think about all of the people who are roped into the world of iTunes because of their loyalty to the Apple brand. How many of your friends have iPhones and listen to their customized music libraries in their dorm room? While working out? While studying? While working in their office? The market is huge. It is not solely marketed to the technologically savvy, but anyone who can navigate a touchscreen phone, tablet, etc, by comprehending simple images. Apple is already an “all-you-can-eat” service provider, but can they manage the size of their buffet?

With that said:

  • Will Apple progress into the Music Business or focus on distribution?
  • Will Apple seek to own the Music Business by charging for its distribution services?
  • Will Apple seek to become it’s own label by selecting and marketing specific artists?

This buffet is growing larger by the second. Even more frightening — our technological obesity no longer has the social health department screaming warnings and limitations.

Apple already owns the download market. Will they seek to own the streaming market as well? Look out folks, Apple is in the hands of techies who know they have the capability to control the world. The question is: How will they do it?


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