Posts Tagged ‘iTunes’

Steve Jobs iTunes Apple Billboard Hot 100 Rihanna

How Apple Changed Music and Steve Jobs Made Rihanna (and the Cast of Glee and Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift, etc.) a Record-Breaking Star

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Apple marked the passing of its co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs Wednesday, calling him “a visionary and creative genius.” In the coming weeks, much will be said of Jobs and how he revolutionized the  way we live. Evidence of his impact can be found in pockets carrying app-filled iPhones, DVD collections sprinkled with Pixar films and of course, the Billboard Hot 100.

Before the launch of the iTunes digital store in 2003, the record industry was facing the unprecedented threat of online piracy. Consumers were freed from forking over $15 for an album with one hit song and a tracklist full of filler by file sharing services such as Napster. Suddenly, an industry that had made record profits in the late ’90s with this model (think Chumbawamba, Eiffel 65, Natalie Imbruglia, etc.) scrambled to restore revenue by resorting to lawsuits.

Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show

The Black Eyed Peas Storm iTunes Despite Halftime Fumble

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Where is the love? More like where is the talent? The Black Eyes Peas’ halftime show during Super Bowl XLV was universally panned, but the group is still raking in the cash as sales of their singles skyrocket.

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t the only losers at this year’s Super Bowl. The Black Eyed Peas were universally panned for their half time show performance where they stuffed every hit they had into a 12 minute set. But while the Steelers went home as first losers, the Peas have pulled off an upset.

The Black Eyed Peas defied the naysayers as their latest single, the pre-remixed, bad-80s-song-sampling mess that is “The Time (Dirty Bit),” has surged to the top of the iTunes sales chart. A slew of their other smash hits have re-entered the digital store’s top downloaded songs list as well including “Where Is The Love?,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “Boom Boom Pow.”

CHART WATCH: Bruno Mars' "Grenade" Blows Up Hot 100

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.

After sporting a Blackberry for well over a year now, I was graciously gifted an iPhone 4 from my generous parents this Christmas. In addition to getting phones for my two of my siblings and me, my parents slipped iTunes gift cards in our stockings. As we rushed to the iTunes digital store to buy songs and apps, so did millions of other people across America, resulting in the most reliable week for digital sales the record industry has left.

Every year, the week after Christmas boasts record smashing sales for singles, usually from new artists. Bruno Mars is Christmas 2010′s big winner, selling 419,000 digital downloads of “Grenade”, the third highest one week sales totals for a song in digital music history. The only songs that sold more copies in a week are Flo Rida’s “Right Round” which sold 636,000 the week of February 28. 2009, and Ke$ha’s ”TiK ToK,” which sold 610,000 exactly a year ago this week.

The sales figures for “Grenade”, along with an increase in radio airplay (it is now the sixth most played song in the country), are good enough for Bruno Mars to score his third No. 1 single. Mars’ first chart topper came from his contribution on B.o.B’s “Nothin’ On You” last May, and his second was his debut single, “Just The Way You Are”, in October. Scoring two No. 1s with his debut singles, Mars becomes the first male artist in 13 years to take his first two singles to pole position. Puff Daddy was the last to do this in 1997 with “Can’t Hold Nobody Down” featuring Mase followed by “I’ll Be Missing You” with Faith Evans and 112.

Last week’s chart topper, Katy Perry’s “Firework” is pushed down to the No. 2 spot, but Perry has nothing to worry about – her song sold 509,000 downloads in a week, the fourth biggest single week frame ever.

The results of this year’s post-Christmas iTunes shopping spree point to a major shift in the digital market. As I explained earlier, the songs that have benefited the most every year were new artists and/or novelty songs. In 2005 it was D4L’s “Laffy Taffy”, in 2006 it was newly minted solo star Fergie’s “Fergalicious”, in 2007 it was Flo Rida’s “Low”, in 2008 it was Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance”, and one year ago it was Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK”. Looking at the past half decade, it’s clear that consumers bought songs that they thought were worth $1.29 (or 99 cents before iTunes upped prices), but that they weren’t willing to purchase an entire album of. Sure, Fergie and Gaga might prove exceptions to the rule, but the majority of their sales came after their first big singles and were spurred by future songs – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Poker Face” respectively.

What separates “Grenade”, and “Fireworks” for that matter, from other post-Christmas hits is that they aren’t just songs by new artists and/or novelty songs. Sure, Mars might technically be a new artist, the guy has been to the top ten four times already. Obviously, the way consumers view iTunes is changing over time. No longer is it just a place for quick impulse buys, it is an integral part of people’s music purchasing habits.

Here’s what’s happening on the rest of the Hot 100:

  • The top ten remains a refuge for former No. 1s. The entire top five has spent at least a week in pole position.
  • Wiz Khalifa joins the top ten as his debut single “Black and Yellow” moves 12-6, proving that some people still prefer the way music sounded circa 2004 than anything else playing on the radio today.
  • One week closer to the Super Bowl and the Peas are gaining steam with their awful single “The Time (Dirty Bit)” which sits at No. 9
  • The SNL parody group Lonely Island gets their biggest hit with “I Just Had Sex” featuring Akon which debuts at No. 30. Their previous biggest hit was “I’m On a Boat” which peaked at No. 56 in 2009.

Here’s this week’s top ten:

1. “Grenade” – Bruno Mars (1st week at No. 1, airplay gainer)

2. “Firework” – Katy Perry

3. “We R Who We R” – Ke$ha

4. “What’s My Name?” – Rihanna feat. Drake

5. “Raise Your Glass” – Pink

6. “Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa

7. “Tonight I’m Lovin’ You” – Enrique Iglesias feat. Ludacris

8. “Bottoms Up” – Trey Songz feat. Nicki Minaj

9. “The Time (Dirty Bit)” – Black Eyed Peas

10. “Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars

Breaking Down The Beatles' First Week on iTunes

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

The Beatles might not have broken any records with their first week on iTunes, but they did shatter notions about how music fans in the 21st century view their body of work.

Two weeks ago, longtime digital holdouts the Beatles released their entire catalog on iTunes. Since then, the band has sold over 2 million songs and more than 450,000 albums. Not bad for a band that broke up forty years ago.

Still, those numbers are nothing ground breaking. Dr. Luke, the songwriter and producer responsible for the garbage warbled by the likes of Ke$ha, took pleasure in the fact that his flash-in-the-pan tune was outselling The Beatles’ songs when he tweeted, “Even with the Beatles now on itunes Ke$ha still #1…. WE R WHO WE R !!!!!” Not only is that one of the dumbest tweets in the history of Twitter, but it completely misses the point. The Beatles’ hits compilation, 1, was the best selling album of the 2000s, and the band sold more albums last year than everyone except Michael Jackson and Taylor Swift. Even setting sales figures aside, the Beatles don’t have to prove themselves to anyone.

Releasing the group’s entire catalog online at once wasn’t about first week sales, but it did provide a market test of how the public views the Beatles songbook four decades down the road. The results were surprising.

The best selling song was “Let It Be”, perhaps one of the most anthemic songs the band recorded. The second best seller wasn’t so predictable. Written by George and never released as a single, “Here Comes The Sun” doesn’t seem like one of the most obvious top sellers, but it ranked second. Even more surprising is the third place ranking of the Rubber Soul track “In My Life”. Although the song receives love from critics (Mojo named it the best song ever in 2000), it’s hardly one of the Beatles’ most memorable songs.

“Hey Jude” and “Come Together” came in fourth and fifth respectively, and like “Let It Be”, these songs seem like predictable top sellers. In sixth was “Yesterday”, another Beatles classic. Considering that “Yesterday” is their most played and covered song though, it’s shocking that five other songs sold better than it.

Here are the top ten best selling Beatles songs last week along with the number of digital downloads sold and the year they were originally released:

1. “Let It Be” – 63,000 – 1970
2. “Here Comes the Sun” – 55,000 – 1969
3. “In My Life” – 45,000 – 1966
4. “Hey Jude” – 38,000 – 1968
5. “Come Together” – 38,000
6. “Yesterday” – 35,000 – 1965
7. “Blackbird” – 32,000 – 1968
8. “Twist and Shout” – 30,000 – 1964
9. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – 27,000
10. “With a Little Help From My Friends” – 26,000 – 1967

We can better understand why some of these songs sold so well by checking out the tracklisting of the aforementioned 1 album. The album has sold over 11,700,000 copies, so a lot of iTunes users already have those songs on their iTunes. Not surprisingly, six of the top ten selling songs weren’t on 1. It makes sense that a lot of consumers were using the $1.29 song downloads to fill gaps in their collection as opposed to new fans cherry picking songs.

The line-up of Beatles albums was also interesting. Growing up, I was always under the impression that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was without question, the greatest album of all time. All the rock journalism I read, including Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, taught me that. It seems that the whole Sgt.-Peppers-is-God movement is facing a backlash from a younger generation as the record was only the fourth best selling one of the week. The top seller was the only album whose cover has become more iconic than Sgt. Pepper’s, 1969′s Abbey Road. With songs like the No. 2 best-selling “Here Comes The Sun”, another George Harrison penned track, “Something”, and “Come Together”, it seems like it would fare pretty well, but I’m baffled that it outsold more obvious picks like Rubber Soul and Revolver.

The second and third best sellers are surprising because of their cost difference. Most of the albums were priced at $12.99, but the double disc White Album which sold for $19.99 was the No. 2 best seller. In third place was In Stereo, a $149.00 box set of the entire Beatles discography. Soundscan counted it as its own album, but it could have easily added 13,000 downloads to each of the 13 Beatles albums included in the set.

There is a definite bias towards the latter end of the Beatles career with albums from the late 60s selling better than earlier ones. Even the 1967-1970 (Blue Album) greatest hits outsold the 1962-1996 (Red album) one.

Here are the top ten best selling Beatles albums:

1. Abbey Road – 1969
2. The Beatles (the White Album) – 1968
3. In Stereo – 2009 (In Stereo was a box set of the entire Beatles discography released last year)
4. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 1967
5. 1967-1970 – 1973
6. 1962-1966 – 1973
7. Rubber Soul – 1965
8. Revolver – 1966
9. Magical Mystery Tour – 1967
10. Let It Be – 1970

Oh, and Dr. Luke, “We R Who We R” might have outsold “Let It Be”, but six Beatles albums (including a $149.00 one) outsold Ke$ha’s Animal. Eat it.

music piracy

The Slow Downfall of Illegal Downloads

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Music, Tech

Earlier this fall, I decided to get Arcade Fire’s latest album The Suburbs. Like everyone, I get more and more music online, but in this case, I also thought maybe I’d go in to a record store and pick up an actual CD. It’d be nice, I considered, to have a physical copy, and the smell of a CD booklet is certainly nostalgic. After procrastinating my record store outing for weeks, however, I finally gave up and bought the album on iTunes.In retrospect, what surprises me about this whole experience is that I didn’t illegally download the album. In fact, I didn’t even consider it. Though I’m not ethically opposed to pirating media — I’ve done a fair share of it in the past and believe it has a legitimate place in the consumer music ecosystem — the thought just didn’t really cross my mind this time around. What’s more, some significant evidence suggests that I’m not alone, and that people are increasingly turning — if not yet stampeding — to legal channels to get their music. (Slate tech writer and NPR contributor Farhad Manjoo discusses some of these trends here.)
So why are my downloading habits changing? Why might everyone else’s be slowly changing too? Some in the media industry might point to the huge lawsuits the record labels occasionally bring — and win — against music pirates. Manjoo also points out in the article linked above that the download-now-use-later approach to music is starting to feel outdated in a streaming world. Or maybe everyone just realized that downloading was wrong.

Apple’s Rock & Roll Event

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Tech

Last week Apple had one of its trademark media events focusing on the iPod and iTunes line-up. Apple has become notorious for building up huge expectations for these events, inspiring a flurry of online speculation and rumors as to what will be announced. Last week’s event was no exception. For weeks rumors had been circulating the internet as to what would be shown at the event: the iTablet, an Apple TV refresh, an appearance by the remaining Beatles? Well, people hoping for those things were sorely disapointed. However, a plethora of news did come out of the event and Rhombus is here to give you the rundown.

TECH: Your Online Music Guide

Written by Colton Chesnut on . Posted in Music, Tech

Technology and distribution have had an exponential effect on how we’ve listened to our music over the last 50 years. Back then, we were a people who only listened to what was played on the local radio, mixed by some guy with slicked back hair and rolled up jeans. Next, it was the mania of the latest gramophone at the local retailer, because you wanted to personally contribute to the boys who brought you “Eleanor Rigby.” Then it was on to long-haired portability, because head-banging was born for your sick Camaro. Now we are an “on-demand” society. Why should we have to drive all the way down the street to buy the newest installment of Nickelback (not that we’d ever willingly do that) when we could download it from our living room couch via iTunes? There’s no use in owning the antiquated physical version of your music when it will only limit where you can listen to it. Like myself, may were introduced to digital music through illegal means (see Napster). However, it is my goal in this article to either introduce or refresh you on some of the better, more legal avenues for listening and obtaining music in 2009.

It just seemed natural to get iTunes out of the way first. Obviously Apple is the big fish here in this digital sea, so I won’t spend too much time talking about using iTunes. If you don’t already know, that’s probably because you are a rebellious Amish boy that sneaked into the nearest library because of your devotion to reading Rhombus. (Thanks for the commitment.) As for the rest of us, you may have noticed the spotlight these days on iPhone apps and HD movie rentals, making it hard to remember that the iTunes Music Store still sells music. Rest assured, because not only do they sell music, its now 100% DRM-free. Not so fast though: That license freedom did not come without a price. Aside from some deeper cuts and older releases being discounted a smidgen, almost all new releases and top selling tracks now bear a $1.29 price tag. 30 cents may not seem like a lot but, based on my library (which I did acquire solely via iTunes), if I had paid the current prices I would be out an extra $350. Overall, I would say that you would use iTunes primarily out of convenience. You probably already own an iPod, so going this route is as simple as one click to purchase and plug in to sync.

What a journey the crew at Napster has been on. They were the premier illegal source for mp3 downloads around the turn of the century. Even my Ninth Grade P.E. teacher used their service: he had me download shady versions of the Doobie Brothers in return for class credit. Despite their illegality, Napster was an important part of ushering in our current age of music distribution. However, their offering has changed a bit different since my junior high days. First off, it’s now legal, which is a plus for me. Until recently their service was a flat monthly fee of $12.95 and if you didn’t buy an official “Napster to-go” device, you were essentially paying for a glorified version of Pandora (without the clever recommendations). If your specific mp3 player of choice is “to-go” status, you can still opt back in to that plan. As for the rest of us, we get their new web-only service. For $4.99 a month you have all the access to their online library you can handle. They do have a Windows-only desktop client (sorry, Mac users) that allows you to listen and build custom playlists, but requires an internet connection to function. Included in the fee, Napster also allows you five full mp3 downloads every month. So if you find yourself only purchasing a song here or there from iTunes, this may be the perfect hybrid option for you. (For those of you who are interested, Rhapsody is another alternative service similar to Napster. CNet did a comparison of the two here.)

Online radio at its finest.  Pandora takes your favorite song or artist and builds a radio station around them. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Well it pretty much was until May of this year when they added some usage limitations. Pandora has always been ad supported — that’s how they stay afloat. However, now there is a max time usage of 40 hours per month, in addition to your individual radio sessions timing out after 1 hour. You can thank/blame their new service, Pandora One: There are no monthly usage restrictions, it’s higher quality music (192 kbps), you can use their lightweight AIR desktop app and — last but not least — no more ads.

LaLa seems to have taken a different initial approach than the others. I suppose they assumed most people already had some sort of music collection on their computer already, so they decided to integrate with that. The Windows/Mac sync program called “LaLa Mover” will analyze the music on your computer and place the matches in your online LaLa library. If they cannot find certain songs you own on their site, they will automatically upload those tracks until all your music is on the Interweb. Their idea is allowing you the flexibility of filling your library with either 79 cent mp3 tracks or 10 cent online-only tracks. The LaLa ecosystem is not quite as straight forward as others, but accounts are free and there is no monthly bill. For those of you familiar with imeem, you will feel right at home with LaLa.

Colton Chesnut is co-founder and Web editor for Rhombus. He doesn’t really like Nickelback. We promise. Send him a tweet @coltonjchesnut.