Thursday, August 7, 2008

So much for access to culture

As you know I have been researching protest music for the past few weeks and being located in a regional area this has not always been easy given the lack of independent music retailers. I have often had to resort to iTunes to get tracks. One thing that has become very obvious is the incompleteness of the iTunes catalogue.

Today I thought I would provide you with a brief list of some of the music I have been unable to access on iTunes:

Beastie Boys, In a World Gone Mad...
Bob Dylan, Chimes of Freedom
Bob Dylan, Political World
Billy Brag, The Price of Oil
Jonathan Brooks, War
Zack de la Rocha/DJ Shadow, March of Death
Luka Bloom, I Am Not at War With Anyone
Paula Cole, My Hero, Mr. President!
Lenny Kravitz, We Want Peace
KRS ONE, Illegal Business
KRS ONE, Who Protects Us from You
KRS ONE, Stop the Violence
Ani DiFranco, Not a Pretty Girl
Ani DiFranco, Face Up and Sing
Ani DiFranco, Lost Womans Song
Grateful Dead, Throwing Stones
Joan Baez, Silent Running
Dead Prez, They Schools
Midnight Oil – can not purchase any of their songs at all

These are just the songs I have started to keep track of – there were many more that I simply searched for and failed to find, and probably many more yet to come. Of course many independent and local artists are not available either. Some of these songs may be available on iTunes stores in other jurisdictions but for one reason or another have not been licensed to the Australian iTunes store.

When the Australian iTunes store launched in 2005 it had a meagre 1 million songs in its catalogue – while this has increased since this time, recent estimates of the US iTunes store catalogue suggest Americans can access 8 million tracks.

Often quoted as one of the reasons why people resort to file sharing, incomplete catalogues do a disservice to the public, musicians and industry as a whole. The beauty of file sharing is that any person with access to the network can upload their music meaning that many different variations of any song can be available to others.

While the EU looks to introduce a licensing scheme that overcomes many of the issues with respect to digital music store catalogues in that region, what really needs to be in place is a global licensing mechanism ensuring songs are available to all digital music stores quickly and easily (and the removal of all DRM). This would be the next best thing to the licensing of file sharing itself.

Further Reading
Digital Music News, Commission: Let the Pan-European Licensing Begin... (16 July 2008) <> at 18 July 2008

Guardian, EU to introduce new music rights system despite lobby (15 July 2008) <> at 18 July 2008

SiliconValley/Associated Press, EU musicians oppose Europe-wide online royalties; outcome could affect iTunes (3 July 2008) <> 9 July 2008

Digital Music News, The iTunes Store: Five Years, Five Billion Song Downloads (20 June 2008) <> at 26 June 2008

Apple, Apple Launches iTunes Music Store in Australia (25 October 2005) <> at 7 August 2008

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