Apple’s Cocktail: How to make you buy what you don’t want

Opinion – I always found it amazing how certain sales people can talk you into buying virtually anything, even if it was be sand on a beach. Now it seems that the four largest music publishers will have to rely on the best sales guy in the industry, Apple, to sell consumers what they really do not want any more – entire music albums with music you may never listen to. Will Apple convince you?

Making consumers spend more money than they intend to is a talent I always found interesting to watch. Why would you buy that extra protection package for your perfectly new car, even if your warranty already covers you and you just know you are taking a loss on it? Why do we buy service packages on electronics at Best Buy, even if we know that this gadget will easily outlive the warranty time frame?

What it often comes down to, however is the incentive and value in such an offer. If we perceive it to be a good deal, we are likely to bite. And I wonder how we will react to Apple’s strategy that will try to convince us to buy much more music than we want – high margin music albums instead of individual songs.

One of the big pitches in downloading digital music was that the consumer can choose what he wants and what not. You pay for only what you want and leave behind what you don’t care for. That concept has worked very well, but it is clear that there is a lot of music out there that just does not get sold. So, how do you sell it? Well, you wrap it into albums, as you did in the past, and come up with ideas to create the perception of a lot of extra value.

Apple, as it seems, is working on a digital booklet that may contain interactive lyrics and possibly additional goodies such as videos. Consider it the jewel case for iTunes. The music industry is already jumping all over the place, praising the effort as the renaissance for the album. There is the thought that we will buy those albums and flip with our friends through the additional extra content on our iPods. Hmmmh. Really? Personally, I doubt this is value enough.

Here is my idea and feel free to chime in. the music we download today has hardly the quality we had in CD music before iTunes. Audiophiles cannot get the depth out of an MP3 song as you can, for example from a much higher-quality uncompressed or less compressed audio file. Why not offer the highest audio quality with an album? Or several quality levels? In the end, what the music industry always seems to forget, it’s always about the music. Not the extra fluff around it. Apple seems to be forgetting this one in this case as well.
Wolfgang Gruener is the founder of TG Daily. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.