Issue 48

Welcome to Issue 48…The lead story, Bernie, Are You Listening? (below) is part expose, part rant…on how a super rich technology corporation has pulled off one of the biggest heists in history without even a mention in the news. In addition, varying from the new one-post per issue policy, also included is a NY moment bonus track, Tossing a Hail Mary.


Bernie, Are You Listening?

Not satisfied by the ill-gained obscene profits resulting from the wholesale rip-off of musicians and soApple-Logo-rainbowngwriters, the corporate bullies at Apple have now come after the likes of you and me. The paltry compensation of fractions of pennies to musicians and songwriters for digitally streaming their wares is well documented. For example, it takes over a million song plays per month for an artist signed to a major label to make minimum wage ($1,260/month) in royalties.

great-stagecoach-robbery-movie-poster-1945-1020685671In a most insidious form of Internet highway robbery, under the guise of one of its almost daily iOS operating system upgrades, the corporate thieves at Apple made off with most of my private music collection after breaking and entering in the dead of night. They stealthily kidnapped thousands of songs that if played back to back would fill up more than five days of continuous listening. Gone was all of the music not purchased at their store, i.e., all of my own CDs that I bought and spent hours transferring to iTunes so I can listen to them on my phone, whenever the hell I want.

But in a sadistic twist, they left the album jackets for the stolen music behind, floating like foggy, grayed out ghosts in ether-space. When you click to play one of these tunes, an error message pops up to taunt you: “Item Not Available. This item can’t be played.”

greyed out itunesitunes error message

Why not?  Who gave Apple the right to prevent me from playing my own music?  The problem is Apple not only has a virtual monopoly on the instant download market but they control the keys to the devices that we use to play our music on.  After recovering from the shock of this huge loss and  repeated searches to figure out what the hell happened, I learned that Apple would return access to some of my stolen music as long as it was something included in their catalog and I selected songs one by one and agreed to only listen via connection to their version in Apple Cloudville.  OK, so let’s add blackmail to the list of charges.

robber-293x300Why would a successful megacompany be interested in such mean-spirited petty thievery, musical kidnapping, and blackmail you ask? It’s not as if they are fencing the hot tunes in a dark alley somewhere.  Actually, just as Volkswagen blatantly cheated their way around emission controls to make loads of extra profits, it all boils down to calculated corporate greed.

This artful pickpocket scheme is part of Apple’s strategy to take over and expand the lucrative content streaming business. Last year Apple bought out up-and-coming Beats Music as a direct challenge to Spodify, the leader of the music streaming industry.  Apple is aggressively pushing their new service, Apple Music which allows users unlimited access to their huge library for a fee of $10/month. There are rumors that they are trying to buy-out Time Warner, which in turn owns Homebox so they’ll have an opportunity to spread the streaming market to TV as well as music.

apple appeal

On one level, this doesn’t seem like a such a bad deal – the ability to stream a shitload of music for a year at the cost of purchasing about 6 or 7 albums. But as vast as it is, and contrary to their claims otherwise, Apple does not offer every album ever recorded, especially older, harder to find selections. And the problem with streaming whenever you listen is having access to a reliable wifi signal. Streaming data over a broadband connection is slow, expensive, and oftentimes frustrating. And of course there are still lots of places in the world where neither wifi nor broadband signals are even available.

But what make me angriest is the sheer gall on Apple’s part to sabotage a perfectly functional operating system so that it specifically prevents you from listening to your own music and essentially forces you to fork out for streaming. If Apple wants to roll with streaming technology, that’s fine. Put out your product and the let the marketplace decide. But this is a clear case where a mega rich corporate monopoly is making decisions that enrich their coffers at the expense of individuals’ rights. Maybe it’s time to break up technology and communications monopolies too, not just the big banks. Bernie, are you listening?

Published on April 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm  Comments (11)  

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  1. VITAL reading! Dead of night thievery where the victim is the last to know and in such an outrageously painful way. It’s as close away as your neighbor with no reason why it won’t be you if something isn’t done. Apple just built a new office in Cupertino, California. It’s now the largest circular building in the world. From the air it looks like the Pentagon and could double as a ring for the goddess Hera. This is how we’re paying for it…


    • Editor’s response: Thanks Andy, I never saw an outlaw, rob you with a cloud based virtual network.


  2. Ah, the rewards for life under capitalist American rule. It can be good when it’s good, but oh so bad, when it’s bad. There seems to be an expectation that we believe that we live in a democracy. Not quite, capitalism trumps democracy in the U.S. What you have experienced with Apple, could be just a hint of the total manipulation, we are subject to, on a daily basis.

    Editor’s response: Thanks Don, point well taken. Apple Music is an excellent microcosm of this dilemma: the concept of being able to access in real time virtually every piece of music ever recorded is really empowering. But the flip side is the issue of control. Let’s say the executives at Apple decide that the lyrics in Woody Guthrie songs are a bit too threatening (and of course they are). A click of a mouse button is all that is needed to make it all disappear. If our devices can no longer play “unauthorized” material that’s a scary thought!


  3. Pigs.

    Editor’ response: 😁🙁☹️😠😡


  4. Hi Paul— This is one of many reasons I have an Android phone and not an Iphone. (The main reason is that I could buy a decent Android for $150 and install $20 worth of memory to get a total of 40 gbs of memory.) It has always seemed to me that Apple is more devious about getting people to buy stuff from their store than Google.

    In a related bit of corporate shenanigans: I copy my home music library (and my antenna tv recordings) onto Windows Media and Microsoft is continually harrassing me to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. They never point out that Windows Media is not a part of Windows 10, and that I will no longer be able to use my computer as a DVR if I upgrade. Their gambit, apparently, is to have people buy Xboxes if they want to DVR. The ultimate question: is how many billions of dollars does a corporation need????

    And hi—– it’s been a long time. Steve

    Editor’s response: Hey Stevie, great to hear from you. Unfortunately, whether it’s Apple, Microsoft or Google, they’re all cut from the same hand tailored silk cloth, i.e., their quest for never ending corporate growth has no limits. What started as cool technologies have been co-opted and subsumed into efficient profit machines.


    • I upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 10 and I still have Windows Media Player – you sure it isn’t included? Or are you guys on some sort of “no enjoy” list?


      • Ahhh. The difference, I think, is between media player and media center. Media Center is much richer and allows for video recording of t.v. Player only allows for copying and playing of audio. I don’t think media center was in Windows 8 either. But, I would love to be wrong about this. Then, my only barrier to upgrade would be fear of incompatibility with my ancient versions of other programs.

        Editor’s two cents: Yes, I believe you are correct – we had a version of Media Center in the last desktop PC we had a while back (deceased and not replaced) and I don’t recall which operating system that was…but I do remember being very impressed with its versatility and power to convert the monitor into another TV, use the hard drive as a DVR, and even search for shows like the cable box does. Sounds like MS abandoned this – weird.


  5. I also have not noticed music removed from my iPad. I don’t use their iCloud. Maybe it related to that. Do you use iTunes (on your PC or Mac)? Are the songs still there? if so, maybe you just have to play around to them downloaded again. Did you do any googling on this? If its a real policy, I can’t believe you’d be the only one complaining about it.

    Editor’s Response: Indeed…I’ve been googling this repeatedly. There are plenty of other folks with the same complaint (lots of suggested cockamamie fixes but nothing that seems reasonable or reliable). Even so, I’m surprised that more folks aren’t screaming bloody murder about it and that little ol’ Opinion8ed2 is breaking the story on this. Part of me believes it’s something I’ve done to screw it up (almost hope so >considering the consequences) but I haven’t been able to pinpoint anything. The music has disappeared from my computer too – however, it is still in tact on my previous computer (except for recent additions) but my efforts to sync with the previous computer have led to weird error messages saying iTunes on my phone needs to be updated (not the case). I’ll let you know if the Apple Geniuses have a fix and explanation


  6. As the only other witness to this crime I would like to add my two cents. Paul neglected to mention that the incident occurred while we were driving in my 2014 Porsche through rural southwestern Virginia (more on that in another post). My theory is that this is yet another example of the intrusiveness of Big Data. Apple, once they became aware of Paul’s whereabouts, decided that anyone driving a Porsche could most certainly afford a $10 per month music fee.
    I believe that this is the real issue here.

    Editor’s response: Hmmm, very interesting hypothesis. Until revelation of the NSA scandal and other examples of the realities of Big (Brother) Data, I might have thought this just another half-baked conspiracy theory…but not anymore. Especially when suggested by MY Big Brother!


  7. Paul, that really sucks. It’s not just a theft of the music; it’s a theft of all the time you spent transferring the music.

    You need to move your rant to a broader audience. Get on twitter and tag Apple, find hashtags where audiophiles, computer geeks and legal advocates post and use those hashtags in your tweets.Include the link to this blog so people can read about the problem.

    Perhaps there’s potential for a class-action lawsuit. Given how deep their pockets are, it’s worth making noise about. And they care about their image so they might help you just for that reason, if you’re noisy and persistent.

    I used to wish I had all my music on my computer. Now I feel very lucky that I only have transferred a tiny amount.

    Mostly, I play my vinyl and CDs through my analog stereo, piped to wireless Sonos system speakers. I can also get radio stations, evil Pandora and Spotify, etc. through the Sonos.

    In the car, it does mean my phone has a little music to offer musically, but my car is old enough that it has not only a CD player but cassette. And I am old enough that I have tons of mostly homemade mixtapes and copies of albums. Maxell tapes even from the late 70s are still going strong (most of the TDKs destructed long ago like during the intro to Mission Impossible).

    If Apple tries to take away my analog music, they will be met with the Oddjob defense – a flying fusillade of razor-edged mono records from the 50s that I bought used long ago. Surface noise is hip now. What’s a few more scratches?

    Editor’s response: Thanks Steve…You’re absolutely correct in reiterating the theft of my time – in many ways more valuable than the cost of the music itself (probably more than 100 hrs. to import my CDs to iTunes directory). My hope is that this issue will eventually go viral and encourage those more in tune with the tools of modern social media than I am to tweet and re-tweet the hell out of it. I was only half joking about getting it into Bernie’s platform. The key to his success lies with mobilization of the millenials and what better way to motivate them than to introduce the issue of runaway corporate greed in an area smack in the middle of their wheelhouse?

    I must say, you have an interesting mix of cross-generational technologies when it come to music. Covering all the bases, a bit like the guy who installs satellite radio in his antique Model T Ford.

    I admire your stand on protecting your constitutional rights to your music. Maybe we should steal the NRA mantra, I’ll give you my music when you pry it from my cold dead (fill in the blank, e.g., turntable, tape deck, CD player, hard drive)!


  8. Hmm. I have almost 55,000 items representing over 320GB of music in my iTunes library and haven’t experienced the same problem. Then again, I turned off Music as soon as it was introduced because I have no desire to pay monthly fees, and I wasn’t about to be tempted by Apple’s free trial.

    Editor’s response: Thanks Jeff…I don’t know anyone who has as big a music library as you so I’m glad to hear it hasn’t affected you (yet?). I did see lots of others complaining about this issue though so I really wonder what the hell is going on.


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