The Web's Most Intriguing Music-Related Issues & Destinations. This Week: iTunes and Somafm.com.
iTUNES HITS MILESTONE: Kevin Britten of Hays, Kansas, is one lucky music fan. At about 1:30 a.m. CT on July 12, the 20-year-old purchased a digital copy of the Dangermouse remix of Zero 7's "Somersault" from Apple's iTunes Music Store and downloaded it.
The newly purchased AAC file was the 100 millionth track downloaded from the iTunes store since it opened for business in April of last year. For his serendipitous purchase, Britten was rewarded with a free PowerBook computer, a 40-gigabyte iPod portable music player and a voucher for 10,000 downloads from the Store (equivalent to the estimated storage capacity on the iPod).
One of the first legitimate á la carte digital-music services to launch, iTunes' benchmarks in a way reflect the burgeoning industry's growth. Like McDonald's, whose numeric claims of feeding the masses were famously displayed beneath its golden arches, the sales figures at digital-music stores will eventually fade into the more general "billions and billions served."
But for now, the 100 million figure is embraced and looked upon with a mixture of envy and pride, no doubt, by iTunes' many younger competitors, including the legitimately relaunched Napster and Sony Connect. The Apple store's early success has pioneered trails in the digital-music marketplace, a niche that the music industry promises to become more and more dependent on in the coming years, so congratulations are in order.
WEBCASTERS' BLISS: In Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," soma is the "perfect drug" that the world's civilized peoples consume regularly to promote happiness and cure depression. In the brave new world of online radio, soma is the name of an admirably independent station broadcasting from San Francisco.
Somafm.com started offering MP3-based radio streams in February 2000 and currently has six channels, from the chilled-out "Drone Zone" to the spy-music-themed "Secret Agent" to the self-explanatory "Indie Pop Rocks!"
The station claims more than 1 million listener-hours per month, and fans tuning in from as far away as Japan and Europe, as well as throughout the United States. The station is free, but listener-supported, soliciting contributions from its fans to stay on the virtual air.