iTunes 8's New Genius Bar: Is it?
I clicked on my iTunes today to find it had magically downloaded a new feature: the Genius Bar.
I had no idea this was coming so I was intrigued: would the Genius Bar provide more genius for me or for Apple?
Turns out that of course the answer is Apple – what was I thinking? Like one of my favorite services, Pandora, the Genius Bar takes your preference for one song or another and builds on it. So, for example, let’s say you select Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack. Or let’s say me and my musical taste of a 13-year-old select it.
The Genius Bar then gives you the following information: top albums by that artist, songs by that artist that you are missing, and recommendations of other artists you might like based on that selection. (Just so you know, the Genius Bar recommended that I download The Black-Eyed Peas, Timbaland and Nelly Furtado but I was already all over that. Who needs iTunes’ Genius when you have much younger friends?)
I appreciated the musical advice, however, unlike Pandora, iTunes turns this into one big sales opportunity. So each song or album recommendation has a price tag next to it so that you will click and buy it.
This is why I do not have an iPod and instead have a Creative Zen MP3 player. I pay $15 each month to subscribe to Rhapsody, where I can download as much music as I want every month and let me assure you, that is the far less expensive route. I then just have to sync my player up to Rhapsody at least once a month to keep all that music licensed (and true, failing to do that can be a big pain as I have learned the very hard way).
As far as I can see, the only reasons someone would choose to get their music via iTunes versus Rhapsody (or one of many other music subscription services) are because 1) you have an iPod and nothing else really works with it (although Rhapsody is working to change that with its non-DRM MP3 service) or because 2) you really want to permanently own every piece of music in your collection — and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’m more of a disposable music subscriber – I want to check out what’s new and hot right now and then move on to the next thing. I’m a musical commitment-phobe (which probably extends into the rest of my life but that’s more a subject for my currently non-existent self-therapy blog).
iTunes’ so-called Genius Bar should really be called the Marketing Genius Bar. But I’m trickier than Apple: I’m going to use it to get recommendations, which I will then check out on Rhapsody and download there. Thanks for the advice, iTunes Genius!