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iPod to iPod transfers: How big a trend?


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January 05, 2006

iPod to iPod transfers: How big a trend?

Peter Burrows

I was speaking the other day with a music industry source about Apple's ongoing negotiations with the major music labels. He said that one of the labels' concerns was one I hadn't heard raised before: that the amount of people sharing songs, playlists or even music libraries through iPod to iPod transfers is reaching worrisome levels (if you're a music executive, that is).

Some quick Googling showed me that there are some after-market solutions out there to make this possible, such as the SyncboxII. There's also the iCopulate, which is a way to physically connect two iPods to make the transfer (Warning: Be ready for heavy doses of sex-related metaphor at this site). And ModGods offers an approach to what it calls "pod-shanking" that involves little more than a more than a cable and a Griffin iTalk voice recorder.

My question: How prevalent is iPod to iPod sharing? Have you done it, or are you running into people that do? Is it easy to do, or is this process too involved or difficult to become a a mainstream phenomonon?

11:55 AM

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I have not done it, so I can't comment on the difficulty of doing this, but I would like to offer a comment: the music executives need to take a chill pill.

ITMS offers most consumers an easy way to get music at a fair price. That's all most people wanted, even at the height of large-scale P2P music sharing. But before ITMS there was no choice except buying CDs at ridiculous prices (complete with unwanted tracks) or engaging in P2P music sharing. The P2P phenomenon was really an indication that the music industry's greed was backfiring. The industry doesn't see it this way, and prefers to think of consumers as inherently larcenous. But in the real world where us consumers live, we prefer the karmic benefits of being honest, as long as we feel we're getting a fair deal.

There will always be thieves and skinflints and hackers (in the traditional sense of the word), but they will always be a minority. Give consumers a fair deal, and they will come. I know that both my wife and I have bought far, far more music in ITMS than in the rest of our lifetimes of buying CDs, tapes, and vinyl combined. And I'm 48.

Posted by: INTPMann at January 5, 2006 02:11 PM

I have never done it, even though I know how without all the third party applications.

One thing to keep in mind here... All music that is purchased through the iTunes Music Store is encoded with DRM, so it can't be played by someone else. There are some ways around it, but it is another hoop to jump through.

Put that on top of the inconvenience of "iCopulating" and you don't have anything that I want to fool around with.Though maybe I am just getting to old to want to steal music. It likely comes into play most often at Colleges and Universities. They are a huge market for the music industry, and they are poor, with lots of time on their hands.

One other thing to keep in mind is: Music has been being stolen since CD's first came out via CD-> tape copy. The industry didn't make too much of a stink about it back then. I am not a big anti-industry guy, but keeping music affordable (which Apple has been the only one to do in the past 20 years) would lead to less desire to pirate in the first place. If it weren't for the $10 albums that Apple offers, I would be much more likely to spend some time in an iPod orgy.

Posted by: Brett_x at January 5, 2006 03:22 PM

I haven't hooked two iPods together, but it's rather easy to copy all the songs on an iPod to a mac or pc.

Posted by: adam at January 5, 2006 03:57 PM

I can't be bothered to do it. There are far easier ways to get music, such as just buying it, or using p2p. I am not sure that linking two iPods together is even worth the effort, considering that most of the music now on offer I wouldn't even bother to steal!

The problem with the music industry is that they feel that someone other than themselves is to blame for slowing sales. Slowing sales actually result form boring products (thank god the era of the boy band is dead), revulsion at music industry greed, the fact that every boomer has replaced their old vinyl with CD's and that there are new entertainment options (eg video games, DVD, gadgets, etc.) fighting for the consumer dollar. If they offered better products, using newer distribution models, then maybe they would see growth. But suing your customers? I'd say as an industry that they'll go into decline on the basis of stupidity and avarice.

Posted by: Harvid at January 5, 2006 05:02 PM

I'd do it, it'll be easy to transfer my old iPod songs to my new iPod. I have had my old iPod since 2001 and most of the music is not on my Mac anymore since I don't have a big enough hard drive to store all of it. So either I'd have to rip them again or snag them off my older iPod. It sure would save a lot of time.

Posted by: Steven at January 5, 2006 06:39 PM

Just for reference, iCopulate was an April Fools Joke from last year; not an actual product (with a low low price of 69.69!)

Posted by: RichP at January 5, 2006 07:04 PM

I am a huge Apple and iPod fan and I know tons of iPod owners and none of us have ever transferred songs from one iPod to another. I had never even heard of it until I read this article! I really don't think it is a problem. I think the music industry just wants leverage so they can force iTunes into charging more for its songs.

Posted by: Joel at January 5, 2006 07:16 PM

The iCopulate was/is an April Fool's joke and the ModGods approach sounds like tin cans and string. Only the SyncBoxII seems to be remotely capable of iPod to iPod transfers.

Posted by: Huh? at January 5, 2006 07:18 PM

Did anybody notice the iCopulate was an April Fool's joke?

Posted by: marc at January 5, 2006 07:32 PM

Um...the iCopulate was an April Fool's joke. Guess they got you...

Posted by: Eric at January 5, 2006 07:42 PM

I have not done it either, and I've had an iPod since they were first released. The bottom line is that once the content is out there, some people are going to copy it. But give customers an easy and convenient way (like iTunes) to get it at a reasonable price, and the vast majority will take the legal road.

So chill out record execs. (Oh, and prepare to say goodbye to the Boxster and the beach house in Malibu.)

Posted by: Elroy at January 5, 2006 07:49 PM

I guess iPod to iPod transfers include iPod to PC/Mac to iPod transfers as well. In any case, it's more likely people lend others their CDs for ripping, or allow others to hook their iPods to their PC/Mac for download (and subsequent upload back to the others' PC/Mac), especially on college campuses. The whole scheme of tying an iPod to a particular PC/Mac makes this process harder but not impossible.

BTW, I haven't ever done iPod-to-iPod or iPod-to-PC/Mac, though I know how.

Posted by: mark at January 5, 2006 08:19 PM

Speaking as a Professional musician/songwritter/producer this is still truly copyright infringement but how many people will give enough of their songs on their iPod away to others so that it would compare to the the opportunistic looting that P2P has created. I will not worry too much about it but the companies who create these items should watch that they do--not advertise it as yet another way to steal music from the hard working musicians who create it. It is only a small percentege of pro musicians who are wealthy so small losses can mean a lot to a middle class Musician like me. So iPod 2iPod transfer should be understood in regards to who it might affect. C-

Posted by: Clark at January 5, 2006 09:00 PM

Why have music sales fallen?

MTV/VH1 - Is it just me or don't these channels actually play music?

Have the Labels gone after MTV to stop "Piracy"?

Seems ANY FREE FORM of Music transfer is being STOPPED.

MTV was essentially an advertizing medium,

but, people could TIVO this to a hard drive and play it at their will,

so, have the LABEL's killed MTV?

Don't these guys really want to know the facts?

Hasn't it been proven that the people P2Ping music are their Best Fans?

Posted by: Mike at January 5, 2006 09:51 PM

stupid, stupid, stupid

Its so frustrating to listen to Music execs moan and complain...even IF people are illegally copying music, there are LOADS of ways that they are making money off of us...t-shirts, stickers, posters, CONCERTS, etc, etc, etc

Posted by: joey Masterson at January 5, 2006 11:50 PM

Just a red herring by music execs in their pr battle to raise wholesale prices.

Posted by: KenC at January 6, 2006 05:43 AM

Quote from Mike:

"Hasn't it been proven that the people P2Ping music are their Best Fans?"

Um.. Best Fans? That doesn't pay the bills. The music industry does need to make money, they just don't need to be greedy. I agree with KenC- "Just a red herring by music exec's in their pr battle to raise wholesale prices."

Another note here that the music industry isn't making a big deal about: Remember the "LongBox" that CD's used to be packaged in? (I had them plastered inside my locker in high school.) They did away with them for environmental and cost reasons. They were originally a theft prevention device. Digital music is another way to cut both theft and production costs. (Not to mention cut down on a petroleum based product - CD's.)

CD's are much easier to copy and share than anyone's iPod library. The industry should be looking at ways to do away with CD's and embrace digital media (with DRM of course).

Posted by: Brett_X at January 6, 2006 10:23 AM

Over the past few weeks, I have heard examples of folks who got iPods for Christmas and then transferred all of the songs from a friend or family member's iTunes library (via a computer, not another iPod) to "get their iPod started." It seems the motivation was convenience, more than the idea of getting a bunch of free tracks.

Mark Cuban had an intersting post back in November, proposing that iPods and other mp3 players should come "pre-loaded" with tunes:

http://blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000273069815

Posted by: David at January 6, 2006 10:36 AM

To Clark, the musician/songwriter/producer, the record lables aren't trying to keep people from stealing your creative work, they are trying to keep them from stealing their profits off your work. It's not like not like you'd get a piece of the action if it somehow stopped tomorrow. Heck, they pay the creators next to nothing as it is. That's the theft in my book.

Posted by: mark at January 6, 2006 09:49 PM

ipod2ipod.com offer a program that does what the syncboxII does just using your PC/Mac

Posted by: Paul at January 12, 2006 08:25 PM

What's the legality of copying songs from one iPod to another iPod?

I've used a low-cost SyncBoxII-like product and was able to transfer 1 song at a time from any iPod to any iPod (Nano to any of the 5 versions of iPod and back again).

The interesting thing was that the transfered song(s) disappeared from the "copied to" iPod after I re-synched that iPod with my PC's iTunes library.

Posted by: Susan at January 24, 2006 10:22 PM

i have an old ipod and recently bought a new one, would love for there to be an easy way to transfer my old songs onto my new ipod with the exact folders i put songs in. would make life so much easier

Posted by: chrisc at May 11, 2006 11:28 AM

I'm currently stationed in Iraq, and I have seena program called Itunes Plus or something that allows for very easy ipod to itunes transfer. Many people were using it because of the non availability of music out here in the middle east. No one ever really thinks of it as stealing, just having extra music to relax with during downtimes :P

Posted by: stefan at December 6, 2006 02:09 PM

Music is meant to be free, period.Making money is cool and all, but anyone who has played an instrument didn't start out to make money (if you did, you're in it for the wrong reasons). Music "sharing"/"stealing" will be around forever. Labels need to find a new way of making money ie forcing their artists to tour more.

Posted by: j dongo at December 28, 2006 11:32 AM


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