iTunes, Copyrights, RIAA, Good Music
Many pundits are spending large amounts of energy putting down the mostly symbiotic relationship between Apple and the RIAA, materialized in the form of the iTunes Music Store.
One piece of conventional wisdom often brought forth claims all RIAA-owned music is crap. Ergo, most music on iTMS is crap. Ergo, one shouldn't waste their time and money supporting those big evil corporations and do the politically correct thing: support the local garage band. Or steal the music on a P2P network.
Surely they've got a good plan outlining where I'll be acquiring music from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Alberta Hunter, Louis Prima, Nina Simone, Big Mama Thornton, Elmore James, Ray Charles to name a very few. There are a lot of great artists on iTunes. It's a matter of looking beyond the "front page" and dig. I've discovered a lot of great artists through other people's "iMixes" and various searches.
The next set of complaints revolves around the RIAA screwing artists over their cut of the profit pie. Apple is being tried for not putting an end to the RIAA's hegemony when they released iTunes. Those detractors fail to understand that there is nothing Apple can do to coerce the RIAA into doing something they don't want to do. They're trying to drag Apple's iTunes into the whole RIAA vs P2P fight, which is pointless. All Apple is doing, and can ever do vis-a-vis RIAA is offer consumers a compelling alternative to acquire digital music, without infringing copyrights.
Beyond RIAA, Apple has made many deals with small, independent record labels such as "CD Baby", precisely to promote independent music. In a near future, anybody will be able to create their own record label, in the iTunes Music Store sense of the term.
All this controversy is giving some geeks a false sense of moral high-ground, as they reverse-engineer Apple's protocols and DRM scheme, posing as defenders of the "oppressed" P2P-sharing masses. Instead of spending their time and energy building their own online music marketplaces, they set themselves out to compromise the integrity of someone else's marketplace.
I find the iTunes Music Store to be quite useful. I like it. I also buy CDs from Amazon. It depends on my mood and whether I'm interested in shopping for songs or albums. I'll gladly evaluate all legal avenues of obtaining music. The key here is choice. You're not protecting my freedom by compromising the iTunes Music Store, you're hurting my choice.
Get a life kids. Build something cooler. Exchanging copyrighted music over P2P networks is not cool.