Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Big Music to Apple: Thanks for a Merry Christmas

The music industry is pretty much conditioned to expect bad news at every turn these days. So this had to feel nice: Apple reports that its iTunes store had its “biggest music quarter ever” during the last three months of 2008. And the company says it posted “record” music sales during Christmas week and on Christmas Day.

But… it’s hard to read too much into that. Apple (AAPL) doesn’t attach actual numbers to those superlatives, so there’s not much context there.

And given that Apple is reporting record sales of iPods for the quarter, the real surprise would be if music sales were not great: iTunes songs sales are now closely tethered to Apple hardware sales. During Apple’s earnings call this afternoon, the company explained that all of the growth in its iPod sales occurred during the last week of December. So there’s your Christmas boom explained.

Still, better than a stick in the eye. And a pleasant change from the usual negative (but true!) stories about the industry. We’ll get a much better sense of music’s health when Warner Music Group (WMG) reports its quarterly results Feb. 5.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald