Apple today announced iCloud, their new online storage system which links together iOS and Mac devices, syncing documents, photos, books, apps – and most interestingly, music. The announced ‘iTunes Match‘ functionality does what just about everyone expected that Apple wouldn’t do – it allows the use of non-iTunes purchased music with the iCloud system. It essentially permits, even welcomes piracy – for a price.
The iTunes Match system isn’t an afterthought on Apple’s behalf, or a simple add-on feature: it is a dedicated system for scanning your current music library, and matching it with tracks in the iTunes library. This is a service which would have taken a huge amount of bargaining in order to gain the approval (reluctant or not) of record labels: and that says a lot about Apple’s position in regards to piracy. They are essentially accepting the fact that music piracy is inevitable in the music industry at the present time, and rather than trying to stop it with DRM and the like (as they have done in the past) they have decided upon an entirely new approach. The system is, crucially, working around piracy, and allowing the music labels to make some kind of revenue from it with the $24.99 fee, and that is something truly revolutionary.
Rather than simply ignoring the problem, or trying to put an end to the practice, Apple has taken an entirely new approach – monetizing music piracy. It’s a juxtaposition which bodes well for consumers, and for the music industry itself in the coming years.
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