What I'd like to see added to the iTunes Music Store

by Chuck Toporek

Now that I'm a remote editor for O'Reilly, I have the pleasure of being able to listen to my collection of music without fear of annoying anyone other than my wife or cat.

It also means that I'm using the iTunes Music Store (ITMS) more often. Of course, my way of justifying my purchases is to make them with an airline card in the hope that the CDs I buy through the ITMS now will go toward miles for another trip to Hawaii. Which of course leads to the whole point of this blog entry: Features I'd like to see added to the ITMS.

So here goes...

Song purchase = credit toward buying that new Mac you want

Buy 10 songs or a full CD and get $2 credit toward buying a new Mac, or some other purchase through the Apple Store. Sure, you'd have to buy 1000 CDs to get a down payment on that G5 you've been drooling over, but still, getting some credit toward buying new gear would be sweet. (Another option would be to use some sort of point system and combine that with purchases made through the Apple Stores, both online and retail.)


Everybody who uses ITMS knows about New Music Tuesday's. You get an email telling you about the new songs and artists that have been added. Great. You go and listen to a few, but by the time you hit the fourth or fifth or tenth, and you want to go back to an earlier choice, you might be on to something else, or distracted by the phone. It would be great if you could bookmark songs that you like as you're listening to the previews without flagging them for purchase. That way, you could go back later, listen to them again, and then decide whether or not to make the purchase or dump them from your bookmark list.

Wish Lists

And if you can add a Bookmark, why not let ITMS customers set up Wish Lists, sort of how Amazon.com does?

You flag a song that you want to add to your Wish List, which you can then send to friends and family members via email so they can purchase the songs for you. Sort of how you send a list of CDs to your Mom so she can buy something for your birthday, except now she can just flip a switch and buy it for you through the ITMS. You'd receive an email from Apple, saying that so-and-so purchased such-and-such for you, and then the songs would download to your Mac the next time you launched iTunes.

Credit for returning an unwanted track

Say you purchase a "CD" through the ITMS and you realize that you only like three or five of the cuts on the "disc". You're stuck with them, just as you would if you purchased a CD, but at least with a CD you could take them to a local music store and trade them in for credit toward your next purchase. But then you lose the three or five songs you like. Not a win-win for anyone.

But what if you could take the extra cuts you don't want from a "CD" you've purchased through the ITMS and return them and get credit toward your next purchase? Granted, I'm not sure how the crediting would work, or how Apple could verify that you've actually deleted a track from your system, but this would be kinda neat.

ITMS Credit Card

Going back to my thought of using my airline card to make purchases on the ITMS to bank miles for a much needed vacation, it makes me wonder if there could be an ITMS Credit Card on the horizon as well. Purchases you make with the card give you credit toward purchasing music on the ITMS or purchasing an iPod and their many add-ons.

All this makes me wonder how long it will be before we have a QuickTime Movie Store (QTMS).

Anyhow, these are just some random thoughts. Let me know what you think, or if you have other suggestions. Also, keep in mind that you can send feedback on iTunes and the ITMS directly to Apple via the iTunes --> Provide iTunes Feedback menu option.

Now it's time to get back to work and stop dreaming about Hawaii (which could lead to another ITMS purchase).

Share your thoughts here...


2003-11-12 17:15:40
good list
i would like bookmarks very very much.

2003-11-12 17:23:24
no way on Returns...
I can't see returns happening... it's too easy to defeat the DRM and basically steal if you so chose. I am in no way suggesting that as a tactic, but think it will hinder this from happening.
2003-11-12 17:25:13
re: no way on Returns...
Yeah, I know. It's always the malcontents that make us honest folk pay. ;^)
2003-11-12 17:31:45
Internet Settings
Also important would be network settings for getting CDDB info through a firewall.
2003-11-12 18:09:37
Good suggestions
I used the Requests and Feedback link at the ITMS to suggest Amazon-like (Amazonian?) wish lists as well as gift certificates.

They responded well with the certificates (and even added allowances, which I hadn't thought of, as I don't have kids) but I'm still hoping for wish lists and some kind of bookmarking.

As for returns, couldn't they deauthorize the file somehow so that you couldn't play it?

Of course, even physical CD store returns have no way of checking that you hadn't ripped your favorite tracks first.

2003-11-12 18:17:34
good list
drag the album (or song) title out of iTunes and drop it on your desktop. There's your bookmark!
2003-11-12 19:04:14
Good suggestions
Hey, I also suggested the wish lists through the feedback :) Sounds like a lot of people would like the wish lists.
2003-11-12 19:55:32
Overseas Sales
What would I like to see from ITMS? The ability to buy songs even though I live in Australia.
2003-11-12 22:20:23
My feature request...
LYRICS! I want to see/get lyrics with the option to have them scroll or appear like a karaoke machine when played with screen effects.
2003-11-12 22:26:23
Canadian Band 54 40 (or fight?)
54 40 is a great Canadian band. Their tunes are so catchy, I'm not certain why they haven't flowed across the 49th parallel. Having them on ITMS would surely spread their talent.

No I'm not Canadian, though I live northwest of the Great White North...

2003-11-13 05:20:52
Not really...
Almost no physical store will actually allow you to return an opened CD (or DVD, VHS, video game, software) for anything other than the identical item. The few stores that were dumb enough to allow exchange/credit are mostly out of business. I know, I ran a store that turned away people trying to exchange opened goods. Used shops will take them, but for much less than the original purchase price. So, you either support the artist good songs and bad, or only buy singles.
I like the bookmark idea, though. That seems viable from a business perspective, unlike some of the other ideas.
2003-11-13 05:48:05
bookmarks in iTunes
Actually you can bookmark in iTunes (sort of). Just drag the song you are listening to to your desktop. It creates a link directly back to that song, which will open up any time you click on this link...
2003-11-13 06:25:51
Classical music and iTunes
I'd really like to see the nonsense of posting "partial albums" in the Classical section to stop. It seems that the powers that be don't understand that when people buy a classical symphony, they really want all the movements.
If I want to make a compliation of different parts, I still can't choose the ones I want because the particular tracks offered are usually the lame ones.
Would that Apple could understand that listening and buying habits are diffferent for classical listeners than rock listeners!
I'll not buy a partial album.
2003-11-13 06:42:26
Returns? uh.... Actual feature request: album credits
The returns request, as you well know, is not-so-bright. After you've downloaded the track and burned your CD then you want to "return" the music? And get some sort of credit? Come on... these guys aren't jokers. Just go steal your music from Kazaa like the kiddies if you're into that. You can preview each song in the store for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds you'll know whether it's a loser or not.

A useful feature would be album credits/lyrics etc. All the stuff that is normally printed on a disk. The album credits really matters most for things like Jazz and Classical (where you want to know who is playing a solo or backing up the band, etc). Also, all those damn studio musicians work like dogs so they should have their name associated with the track somewhere.

Maybe it's something that the CDDB needs to tackle? Then the whole world can benefit.


2003-11-13 08:33:03
Combine with "VoodooPad" for a taste sensation...
I tried this out with my handy companion VoodooPad...create a new wiki page and drag and drop till your hearts content -- works with albums and individual songs too. You can drag from both the list views(browse songs or albums) as well as dragging from the album art on the home page/main genre pages. Neato.
2003-11-13 09:33:10
user comments/reviews
This tends to be a weakness of Apple's -- they have staff recommendations, celebrity playlists and the like. Well, how about USER reviews, a la Amazon? They do tally most popular sells and "also bought," which is nice, but not very personal.

Lyrics/liner notes is a must, too.

2003-11-13 09:41:07
Credit tracks towards album
My first night with iTMS I playfully bought two tracks of an album, then went back an hour later to go ahead and purchase the whole album. I was surprised/shocked to see that they didn't credit my $1.98 from one hour earlier towards the $9.99 of the full album. I am much less likely to buy tracks now..
2003-11-13 11:06:59
$2 credit
Right. You want to be able to get $2 for every $10 you spend? No credit card would give you a deal like that. That's a 20% return on your money! That's well over the difference between the sale price, and Apple's cost, based on comments Steve Jobs made.

It would be nice if there were some sort of point system, but it would be more like 20 cents/$10. At that rate, you'd have to spend $100000 to get a $2000 computer.

Anyway. I agree with the comments about Classical albums. Many aren't there, and the ones that are tend to be lesser albums. And many of those are partial. Musicals are also sorely lacking. I suppose the rights are harder to acquire.

2003-11-13 12:23:00
Share your ideas with Apple!
Good as all these suggestions are, and grateful that I am for the good folks at O'Reilly for creating this article, don't be a tree falling alone in a forest. Take your ideas and submit them to Apple using the link inside of iTunes. They DO listen!
2003-11-13 12:51:33
Other requests
Other features on ITMS and iTunes in general:

- ranking for all songs (hey, it could become the de-facto replacement for the Billboard rankings)

- creating a section for indies, and providing indies the tools to upload directly to ITMS

- loyalty program that can build up ITMS credits to buy more songs (say, 10 songs get you a free song)

- daily raffles with each song purchase, being an entry to the daily raffle

- professional reviews

- listener reviews

- populate the Beats per minute info on the song, and create an iTunes auto-dj that can put on songs based on the Song Info

- more visualizations. and allow user to tweak visualization by putting in there own pictures and text (and for iMac users, get pictures from iPhoto and movies from iMovie)

- create a monitored interface to CDDB so that users themselves can submit corrections and bpms directly

2003-11-13 13:10:59
radio station playlists
I would like to see playlists for all radio stations in the country from with iTunes that list the song name by the data, time, and station it was playing on, and that included the option to "buy now" the song, preview it, etc.

I can't remember how many times I've heard a song on the radio, like it, and couldn't find it later because I couldn't determine the name of the song, the band, whatever. A lot of radio stations already have their playlists online, so all Apple would need to do is create a public, XML-ish type format and load the playlists on demand from their servers, and display them in iTunes. Of course, competitors could also get the lists, but so what?

2003-11-13 17:54:10
bookmarks: use shopping cart
The way I "bookmark" music is I turn on the shopping cart. Then I add all the tracks I want to come back to later to my cart. It's a good way to keep track of music that you're not sure whether you want to buy or not. It's in preferences.
2003-11-14 05:52:26
What I'd like
...is the ability to use it. I'm not American so at the moment I don't have the option. Oh well, we'll just have to keep stealing then.
2003-11-14 23:22:57
Credit tracks towards album
I definitely agree with this one! I've bought a few songs and decided later I'd like to buy the CD but I'm already out the money for the singles.
2003-11-17 14:43:39
re: Canadian Band 54 40 (or fight?)
My guess is that the problem there could be with the record label, but I'm not sure. Maybe they don't want to participate yet because ITMS is US-only? Or maybe they don't want in because of CRTC regulations or something goofy like that?

Regardless, I too would love to see 54-40's stuff on ITMS. But I've also noticed that another Canadian band that could benefit from some exposure on ITMS is The Tragically Hip. They only have one CD up there, and it's not their best offering.


2003-11-18 10:45:59
Internet Settings
I don't seem to have a problem getting CDDB info through my companies FireWall. ...and they are pretty restrictive here.
2003-11-28 08:34:01
I thought of the "returns" idea a few weeks ago. It makes sense to me. I think it's maybe the only thing that record companies could offer to make DRM look appealing to consumers. Simple as that.
2003-11-29 17:19:24
World Music
I would like to see world music categorized by country, or at the very least by continent. Pretty much every brick and mortar record does this for a very good reason: it helps you find what you want.
2004-08-20 02:09:56
World Music
Good as all these suggestions are, and grateful that I am for the good folks at O'Reilly for creating this article, don't be a tree falling alone in a forest. Take your ideas and submit them to Apple using the link inside of iTunes. They DO listen! kyw6e
2005-02-20 08:45:39
user comments/reviews
As for the liner notes, I completely agree. I've often 'lost' money by not buying from iTunes or missed out on liners by not buying from amazon. So I decided to make a website to list information about liner notes. It's at flamesplash
2005-02-20 08:45:45
user comments/reviews
As for the liner notes, I completely agree. I've often 'lost' money by not buying from iTunes or missed out on liners by not buying from amazon. So I decided to make a website to list information about liner notes. It's at