Indie Musicians & iTunes - A Rant

For the life of me, I don’t understand why independent artists are pushing their music via iTunes as opposed to far superior services such as Bandcamp, TopSpin, and even Cash Music’s services. 

For major label artists, where most people aren’t becoming aware of the music as a direct result of indie promotion, I get it. It makes sense. People are going to look for music they may hear on the radio, on iTunes. You don’t have the level of control to force the radio presenters etc to point the user towards your own website or Bandcamp page. That makes total sense. Major labels have specific relationships with iTunes as far as promotion, too. Also makes sense.

But for DIY/Indie artists - WHY? First of all iTunes aren’t giving you any metrics. AT ALL. You’re not seeing who is buying your track, where they’re from, getting their email info for your mailing list etc. Secondly you’re giving them a disproportionate cut for the service they provide. Which is basically NONE.  Putting your song on iTunes and then not promoting is is the equivalent of walking into a music store and placing your CD on the shelf. It’s not getting you anywhere. 

So if you’re doing the promotion YOURSELF - you ought to be directly pointing people towards the services I mentioned. You’ll get metrics. You’ll get detailed statistics for hits, linkbacks AND downloads. You’ll get emails for your mailing list (one of the most important things you can get). You’re not giving away a large cut of the money for no reason. You can choose to give away your music for free, or you can allow people to pay whatever they want. You can create your own customised landing page that’s directly relevant to the song/album, with links to your other web spaces (blogs, twitter, facebook, etc).

The only argument I can see is that the closed iTunes/iPod combination has dumbed down the population enough to where they are simply too dumb to figure out how to get music onto their portable music device aside from purchasing it directly from iTunes. I don’t buy it. Sure it’s gonna be the case for some of the population, but we shouldn’t be encouraging that behaviour. How hard is it to drag and drop an MP3 you’ve downloaded from your desktop into iTunes, to allow it to sync? Are there seriously that many people out there that can’t or haven’t bothered to figure this out? Really? 

And yet, day after day, I see indie artists promoting their music DIRECTLY - with links to iTunes. I’m not saying don’t put your music on iTunes. Go for it, especially if it’s not costing you any extra money. But in your direct-to-fan marketing, don’t push that as the main source for the music. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot. If the person wants to look for you on iTunes, they’re gonna do that anyway. You’d be much better served pointing them towards any one of the superior services I mentioned. Wise up, folks! 

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