Lynne d Johnson

 

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06.08.06 09:35 AM

itunes wants to be all things music

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It all started with a cool little white device. Who knew that providing content for that device would end up making apple king of digital downloads --- and perhaps at some point, everything music?

Building upon the design of the ipod and doing due diligence in the biz dev arena to garner more content became key components of the overall branding strategy for the itunes music store. (as in: now we have law and order downloads we need a better ipod and we need to make sure the itunes logo appears when viewers watch the show.)

And once apple realized the popularity of podcasts they quickly embraced the concept, even setting up a distribution channel for podcasters --- both commercial and noncommercial. The next move was precise. In partnering with odeo, apple was able to bring a larger audience to its music store and service by enabling users to subscribe to their odeo inboxes via itunes.

Early on, the company teamed up its music store with the linkshare network to offer affiliate partnerships to web publishers. but there was nothing particularly special about that move since it was only little more than what one could earn from an affiliate relationship with amazon. yet, that was only up until very recently.

Just last week, Emmis Communications, with its 22 FM and 2 AM domestic radio stations, announced that it would be the first company in the US to integrate the iTunes music store into its radio station Web sites.

The program succesfully piloted with New York's WQHT-FM (Hot 97) and Los Angeles's KPWR (Power 106) last month, and storefronts began popping up last week on Chicago alt-rocker WKQX-FM (Q101), and Indianapolis contemporary-hits station WNOU-FM ( Radio Now 93.1) Web sites.

"We approached Apple with the idea, and we developed the back-end technology to make this possible," said Rey Mena, vice president of Emmis Interactive. "Many Web sites link to iTunes, but we're the first to pull iTunes' entire 2.5 million-song catalog into our sites, weaving station programming with the Apple platform." Emmis will receive a portion of all iTunes sales made through its Web sites. Individual stations will promote the new feature through on-air spots and their listener clubs.

Next month, Emmis plans to rollout the music store on all of its station's sites.

But apple isn't stopping there. I already said they want to be everything music.

With masses of advertisers following the eyeballs and leaving the print medium for the web, print publications need to find alternative distribution channels. Simply having a web site is no longer enough.

The magazine has to fit into the new media digital lifestyle, because web 2.0 has increasingly changed the rules of the game.

From rss and atom feeds to podcasts and vodcasts to myspace and tagworld pages, and to mobile apps and ringtones, traditional media is slowly relearnining what it means to build a brand.

The FADER magazine has taken it one step further. With its "Summer Music Issue" available in its entirety as a free download on iTunes, The FADAER has not only found a distribution channel that integrates it into the new, new media digital lifestyle, but it has also found an innovative means of building its brand. It is the first full magazine posted on iTunes. Billboard already has some of its top charts there.

"We're about bringing attention to the emerging artists and musicians that we love, and are always looking for a way to get the word out," said Andy Cohn, publisher of The FADER. "The print magazine will always be our focus, but this is an incredibly unique opportunity to reach a whole new audience and bring additional attention to the artists that we're covering."

Southern Comfort is the sponsor of this free download and is thereby exemplifying corporate clients willingness to embrace novel ideas.

"By partnering with us on the project, Southern Comfort continues to show its support for emerging artists and its forward-thinking approach to unique marketing streams," said Cohn.

Now the only thing apple needs to do is enable community into its itunes store, as well as a means of housing user generated content other than just playlists and podcasts. How about a wiki (a la amazon), or tags (a la last.fm), or even a partnership with aol/aim so users listening preferences can be shared similarly to how it works in ichat? And wouldn't it be cool if you could actually listen to what your buddies are listening to on iTunes --- and not just on a shared network?

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