iTunes Complete My Album Update

apple.jpgThere’s a press release on Apple’s website that clarifies the just-announced “Complete My Album” offer. It’s not due to expire on June 26, as my previous post indicated. Instead, it appears to be a permanent iTunes feature. The June 26 deadline is for all previously purchased songs – the date represents 180 days from March 29, when the offer was officially announced:

Complete My Album offers customers up to 180 days after first purchasing individual songs from any qualifying album to purchase the rest of that album at a reduced price. When users buy any song on iTunes the corresponding album will immediately appear on their personalized Complete My Album page with the reduced price listed.

Once again, the Cupertino company is at the leading edge in customer service and satisfaction. Wonder how long it will be before Zune and Rhapsody go down the same road?

ASCAP’s Buggy Whip Protection Act

dima2.jpgI caught word of the excellent Royalty Week interview with Digital Media Association Executive Director Jonathan Potter via Radio and Internet News. RAIN reported on DiMA’s response to the CRB decision; Potter’s take is exactly the same as mine:

I think the marketing departments and the promotions departments at the record companies are at war with the finance guys and the lawyers. The lawyers want to confirm that they have the right, and they have the ability to cut anybody’s throat whom they don’t like that day—take them to court. The finance guys need money. Their business is falling off a cliff, they need current revenue. The marketing and promo guys say, “Wait a minute, we should be giving these guys the music, and letting them play it. And begging them to play it.” The record companies need to figure out the business of the future, and they’re still figuring it out. And I think that Internet radio is suffering as a result.

“Begging them to play it.” Web radio has the potential to reach more listeners, and with more focus, than ever before. Yet Scarecrow John insists there’s no promotional value.

Potter’s thoughts on another matter, the recent ASCAP suit requesting an broad expansion of the definition of a “public performance,” are also dead on. If the court grants ASCAP’s request, listening to a song on an iPod would be considered a public performance subject to royalty.

Potter sees this desperate act as an inappropriate response to a dying business model:

Creators of new technologies, those creators of new business models, should not have to pay those who relied on the old business model merely because they changed the way things operate. The manufacturers of the automobile did not have to ensure employment for the employee of the buggy whip company when the automobile put the buggy whip out of business. And I’m not being harsh, this is reality, it’s economics. If you fly an airplane to get from New York City to Boston, the owner of the toll road in between can’t say, “Hey, transportation of any form needs to pay a toll on my toll road, because you could have taken my toll road.” The answer was I didn’t, I flew.

Read the entire interview at the Royalty Week website. You’ll need to the Acrobat Reader to view it.

Complete My Album – An iTunes Wish Fulfilled

completemylp.jpgI’m an avid iTunes customer who’s been making purchases since the first week the service went live. I typically buy more albums than songs.

When I buy an advance track from an unreleased CD, I usually wind up paying more for the complete release. That’s very frustrating.

For example, I bought two tracks from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Between Here and Gone” back in 2004, and when the album became available, I had to get the remaining 10 tracks at 99 cents each.

Had I waited for the album, all 12 songs would have been $9.99, but in this case I wound up spending $11.89.

That changed today with Apple’s limited-time “Complete My Album” offer. You can, until June 26, add the rest of any album you’ve purchased tracks from for a price that represents the iTunes cost less what you’ve paid for the songs you already own.

For example, as the picture below shows, the rest of the Mary Chapin Carpenter album could now be had for $8.01:

mcccompletemylp.jpg

I’m not sure why my account indicates the other 10 songs as missing. As I said, I filled out the album back when it was released. I’ll be in touch with Apple to find out about this bug; you shouldn’t take the store’s word for it either, lest you buy songs twice.

However, this discrepancy allows me to demonstrate the feature, even if I was too late to take advantage of it in the case of “Between Here and Gone”.

“Complete My Album” works with all music purchased by the track from the iTunes Store. When you click on the link (located on front of the ITMS page), it looks up your personal account information regardless of which computer you’re on, or what music’s stored on its local hard drive. Thus, if you have more than one account, you’ll need to log out and log back in to see details for each.

One thing to remember is that you need to navigate to your purchases via the “Complete My Album” button on the ITMS front page in order to be given the option to add unpurchased tracks. If you go to the album from the artist page, or search for it, it won’t show tracks already purchased.

This is a problem mainly if you’ve bough lots and lots of individual tracks. Near as I can tell, and I’d welcome additional input on this, there’s no way to go straight to an album you’d like to complete. You must choose a sort order and scroll page by page (25 albums a page) until you reach the desired disc. A friendlier interface would be nice, but I’m glad that iTunes is making this feature available, if only for a short time.

Update: No time limit for Complete My Album

RIAA Blowback

shotinfoot1.jpgThe music industry’s blanket lawsuit habit may soon backfire, says ARS Technica’s Eric Bangeman in a recent post. RIAA typically requests that actions against accused file-traders be “dismissed without prejudice” – this means that lawsuit defendants have no recourse against what are often frivolous cases. Some of them have recently asked that their suits be “dismissed with prejudice” so they can collect court costs and attorney fees from RIAA.

Writes Bangeman:

The hundreds of cases filed have all proceeded along the same lines, with which most of us are all too familiar. The music industry’s exit strategy from cases it deems undesirable to pursue—due to mistaken identity, poor likelihood of winning, or other factors—has been just as consistent. The record labels file for a dismissal without prejudice and everybody goes their own ways, footing their own legal bills, and no one is officially cleared of wrong-doing. Recent events may be casting a shadow over the wisdom of the RIAA’s strategy.

Now they’re trying a new approach – dismiss without prejudice, but with an additional promise not to sue the defendant again. One of those defendants, however, isn’t willing to accept less than complete exoneration of wrongdoing, which isn’t part of the settlement package. In Warner Bros. v. Tallie Stubbs, says Bangeman:

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange split the difference. She granted the plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss without prejudice while denying their motion to dismiss the counterclaim, ruling that “there are independent bases for subject matter jurisdiction over Defendant’s declaratory judgment counterclaim.” In other words, the defendant can seek to have her name cleared of any wrongdoing, regardless of the plaintiff’s decision to dismiss.

The industry’s dual approach is fraught with problems, continues Bangeman:

In choosing this course of action, the RIAA is taking a calculated risk. Dismissing a case without prejudice while promising not to bring further legal action could be interpreted as the functional equivalent of a dismissal with prejudice. As a result, the judge may very well decide to dismiss the case with prejudice after all. She could also then dismiss Stubbs’ counterclaim, as a dismissal with prejudice would mean that she is the prevailing party and leave the labels vulnerable to an attorneys’ fees awards.

Read the whole article here.