From a post called Apple iTunes Still #1, but Amazon Gaining - Mac Rumors:

Amazon, however, saw a rise in ranking from #5 to #4, which NPD attributes to both strong CD sales as well as Amazon's introduction of their MP3 music store. The digital rights management (DRM) free solution provides iPod users a convenient and compatible alternative to Apple's iTunes.

Apple's still #1 when it comes to selling digital music (ie, CDs + downloads), Wal-Mart's two, and Best Buy's three, but Amazon is 4, apparently passing Target.

Several months ago I mentioned that "Keeping DRM free 'not Apple' is the only bargaining chip the music companies have," and that I thought it was a smart move by Universal to hedge their bets by going DRM at the iTunes Music Store and DRM-free at Amazon.

I'm pretty sure that's not the only thing -- or even the primary thing -- going on with Amazon's move from 5 to 4 (even if Amazon's online store stole 10% of iTunes' customers). Instead, what we're likely seeing is that CD sales and music download sales are relatively unrelated markets, and adding an online store was a gain for Amazon all the way around. Even if Amazon only sells a quarter as many online downloads as they have CDs in the past, that's a 25% gain [minus a small number of CD buyers moving to online downloads]. If anything, Amazon's online music store is probably helping them sell more CDs, especially if the NRD counts used sales from 3rd party vendors. The CDs are just a link away from the mp3s. I imagine anyone on the chart could move a bit with that sort of change.

I was interested to see that a company in the UK offering the following music subscription service for ISPs to install:

Scant days since UK music labels reached a deal with six of the country's leading ISPs to begin turning the screws on the nation's estimated six million file-sharers, 7Digital has entered the fray, offering ISPs a range of services designed to let them offer music to their customers as part of their subscription.

This is Web 2.0, as the corporations want to see it. The UK ISPs are already throttling back on people who use p2p.

The deal - which has been agreed to by BT, Virgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse - also means file-sharers could see their broadband connections slowed, or removed altogether.

And then we see something like 7Digital's suggestion, above, that these same ISPs could license what essentially becomes a free or easily controlled subscription music service on what amounts to their own intranets. This is exactly the kind of control net neutrality seeks to remove.

I have to think universities would start doing something similar. I mean, if you don't want 18-22 year olds trading music illegally, what can you do? Give on-campus students all that music for free, using a plan just like the 7Digital one for UK ISPs. Except that it ain't free; the licensing fee is going to be thrown in with tuition. And what's great? Once you leave school (or, more generally, your ISP or what-have-you), all that music you once could listen to drops right back into the virtual rare book room. You graduate, and your music is gone. Want to listen again? Pay again.

Personally, I don't want tax dollars going to license pop music for teenagers, much less tax dollars earmarked for "education" going to only temporarily license that pop music, but I'm not real optimistic that it won't happen.

This also has some real repercussions for the possibilities for smaller ISP start-ups. If Web 2.0 style controls like this one become popular, how are they going to be able to make the same deals with record music companies? They probably won't, at least not for the same prices per client.

Okay, as always, buy used books, trade for all your digital music, and if you're out tonight, don't forget, if you're on your bike, always, always, always wear white. (I was doing this before TK, thanks very much. Well, at least independent of.)

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