How Many of You Own an iPod?

Steve Jobs was a hugely successful serial-entrepreneur who owned a few companies you might have heard of:

  • Apple (I know I already said that, but it’s quite an important one!)
  • NeXT (a computer platform company)
  • Pixar Animation Studios (bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?!)

Steve Jobs has been described as many things and had a great number of achievements before he died in October 2011. You may think the words “inspirational”, “innovative” and “futuristic” are overrated, or perhaps over-used but I am sure that if you achieved anything close to what he did, you wouldn’t mind them too much! His legacy will most definitely live on in the form of his life’s work.

Anyway, back to iPods.

So, Steve Jobs achieved a great many things in his life but the one that is potentially most relevant to all of us, is his influence over the music industry. The first iPod was released in 2001 and was described, by Apple, as “the Walkman of the twenty-first Century”. The product was developed and launched within a year. The concept of a digital music player wasn’t too rare, but Apple worked hard to differentiate their product in a relatively fledgling marketplace. They did this by creating a small music device with a comparatively large memory and an easy to use LED interface. The first iPod had a 5 GB memory and could hold around 1000 songs. Now I know, they weren’t the only digital music player around at the time so this is all very interesting but hardly ground-breaking… Bear with me!

iTunes – a digital music revolution

steve_jobs_feature_spreadWhat really changed the music industry was iTunes, the software that you use to manage your iPod. The iTunes Music Store launched in the US in April 2003 to Apple Mac users and facilitated 2 million music downloads within 16 days of launch! Initially every track bought on iTunes cost $0.99 and every album cost $9.99. iTunes first came to Europe in June 2004. In February 2010 iTunes sold its 10 billionth song, making it the World’s number 1 music retailer, a mere 7 years after launch. In February 2013 Apple announced the 25 billionth song purchased via iTunes and claim that, on average, 15,000 songs are downloaded from iTunes per minute! Let’s also not forget that iTunes was a significant step in paving the way for the iPhone and app store. Since iPhone sales reportedly account for $1 billion per month in revenue to Apple this is not something to be sneered at!

But the key to Apple’s success was through a bold but ultimately genius move. In 2005, when iPod sales were a roaring and growing success, Steve Jobs negotiated a deal with vital NAND flash memory suppliers, guaranteeing supply until 2010. At the time this was said to be in order to grow the iPod range, however the same memory was later used for many other Apple products including the iPhone. This ballsy approach to business is what kick-started Steve Job’s business in the first place. When he and his business partner Steve Wozniak developed their first computer, Steve Jobs secured a contract with a local computer shop for 50 computers if they came fully assembled. Apple did not have the money for the parts in order to assemble 50 computers. Instead Steve Jobs took the purchase order for the 50 computers to the parts supplier and successfully negotiated a 30-days payment terms so that he could construct and sell the 50 computers in time to pay for the parts. Steve Jobs knew what he needed in order to be successful and he was not afraid to ask for it.

What is the music industry of tomorrow?

Could you make it happen?

Steve Jobs was a perfectionist who gave no quarter, something was either good enough or it wasn’t. His entire approach to business was product perfection. He held the arguably rare view in the business world that product was more important than profit, because ultimately, if you got the product right the profit would follow. On this point he has been called an “egomaniac” and “ruthless” and made it onto the list of America’s toughest bosses! I guess it’s really up to you on how you feel about being remembered by those words, maybe you would see it as a well-earned reputation in your journey for perfection or maybe you find the idea abhorrent…

Either way this man practiced what he preached:

“Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.”

So whether you have an amazing idea for a new music device, you are a music marketing genius or you have an awesome band, you can help to shape the music industry of tomorrow. But it won’t be easy, you will need to put yourself out there and take risks. You will have to be completely dedicated to what you want to achieve and refuse to compromise on anything less than perfect. You will probably get knocked-back and have to try again. But if you work tirelessly in your pursuit of perfection you can achieve your goals.

Feature by Alexandra Gaiger

Ipod image by Benjamin Blonde

Author: ALT-MU

A digital music magazine for musicians and music lovers with alternative ideas and careers.

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