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iTunes customization; Back-channel artist payments

furialog: iTunes Customization

Before Tiger renders some large amount of it obsolete, I want to make some notes about my customized iTunes configuration. The actual Applescript code is too obscure and specific to be very enlightening, but possibly a brief description of the overall flow would be of interest to others....

For artists who accept electronic payment via Paypal or credit cards, the database records the relevant payment info. A separate nightly perl script issues electronic payments (via CapitolOne’s excellent web-services “micropayment” (sic) interface) where possible (batched until the amount exceeds $1.75), and for artists without electronic payment info, totals the corresponding amounts and transfers the overall total to the money-market escrow account I have for this purpose.

The balls-out geekiness of Glenn’s intricate iTunes scripting deserves a shout-out on its own, but I also just like the underlying logic of it; “help me learn (and benefit) from what I do, not what I say I do or what I think I do.” So smart.

I also love that he’s making a formal effort to send a little dough the artists’ way—even if it’s not via the piano-roll-riffic methodology that the RIAA and the plastic disc salesmen at the majors would have us cleave to (until they deign to join us in the 21st Century).

I’m going to try and prod Glenn to share a bit of the code behind this; I’m sure that there’s a bunch of us who would enjoy a smarter iTunes experience and could benefit from insight into his scripts. And I can think of a few artists who would really like to see their fan-by-fan popularity turn into a few extra ducats where it can.

[Hat tip to Gabe Roth for the link]

Update 2005-04-19 09:15:42 - Oh, man was I snookered. See Glenn's response in comments. PayPal bit below stands, either way.

On an only slightly unrelated note, I do wish that bands would make a point of opening a PayPal account and making it unapologetically easy to find and patronize. I know that business models eventually will evolve to pay labels and artists for “preview” copies we’ve stumbled across on the Interweb, but until they do, I would love to have an easy way to say “thanks” before a record even hits the meatspace shelves.

Understand: this would be a band-aid (so to speak); it’s not a perfect system, but it’s something, and I imagine it could help to offset some of the income loss associated with unpaid downloading. Nice way to vote with your wallet as well as your ears and fawning LiveJournal posts.

Anybody know of artists and labels that are doing this well right now?

glenn mcdonald's picture

Hah, this definitely made my...

Hah, this definitely made my morning!

As various Davids guessed or noted, the intro and #1 through #4 are all exactly true, but starting with #5 the post migrates from what I actually do to speculation about what I might be doing if I had unlimited time and no other projects. The stuff about fingerprinting and admitting that (only) the last bit is geeky are cues, but most of the rest of it is plausible even where it isn't true.

In practice, for example, I actually don't use ratings myself at all. But several people have emailed me about that section after you posted this link, so now I'm thinking maybe I'll actually implement it. It's a good idea for exactly the reason you said: the software ought to respond to the implicit semantics of my regular interaction with it, rather than me having to make an endless series of explicit decisions about things. I probably won't build exactly what I described, which had some impratical fantasy wrinkles, but I've got the scaffolding for something on the same basic principles, which might be useful and/or interesting.

The compensation/micropayment thing, on the other hand, was an attempt to describe the absurd complexity an individual person would have to take on to administer such a system themselves. I wouldn't try to build this in reality, although interestingly, the new SQL Lite hooks in Tiger may make some of the database integration I described a lot more tenable than it is right now. My own artist-compensation system is much simpler: I still buy CDs. But this whole industry is on the verge of collapse and reinvention, and the new forms of it may look a lot more like my imaginary DIY version.




An Oblique Strategy:
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