Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

We Are The World! Sony, Michael Jackson’s Estate Working With iTunes, After All.

michael-jacksonCorrection: A Michael Jackson rep says that contrary to the report below, Jackson’s new album will be available on iTunes Oct. 27, though the “rest of the details are still be sorted.” My apologies for the error.

EARLIER: After Michael Jackson died, fans flooded iTunes to snap up his music. But when “This Is It,” the singer’s final work, comes out this month, they’ll have to look somewhere else: Apple’s digital store won’t be selling the album.

So says Digital Music News, citing “confidential information.” The problem, supposedly, is that Sony (SNE) and Jackson’s estate want to sell the entire double album as a set, while Apple insists that all of the music it sells needs to be available as singles.

I’m checking with Sony and Apple to confirm, but the story is a familiar one, because it’s a longstanding dispute between Apple (AAPL) and the music business. The industry, for both financial and artistic reasons, has tried to keep music bundled together, while Apple insists on selling it a la carte.

Apple usually wins these disputes: Even the stubborn iconoclasts in Radiohead eventually bowed to Steve Jobs’s will and turned their precious albums into individual songs.

If there is a clamor for the new Jackson music online, it will reportedly benefit Amazon (AMZN), whose MP3 store does offer album-only releases.

But I’m not sure how loud the clamor will be: As best I can tell, the “new” release contains only a smattering of Michael Jackson you haven’t heard before: Two versions of the title song, plus “a recently discovered spoken word poem.”

The rest? Greatest hits you can already buy, song-by-song, on iTunes.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus