Hard News by Russell Brown


Aggregate me, baby!

Do we have a little bit of a situation here? A senior employee from iTunes in the US has been here this week - not that there's anything happening, you understand - to talk with potential aggregators for New Zealand content on the iTunes store due to launch next week. And at least two companies - Loop Digital and Jiggy.co.nz - are pitching for the business.

The idea is that iTunes doesn't want to be dealing with every little label or garage band, and some of them probably don't want to be dealing with iTunes either. So a third party comes in, aggregates the small fry, deals with iTunes, and clips the ticket.

Wellington-based Loop has a track record with iTunes in several territories, including the US and UK, and on Wednesday signed an extension to its existing territories, to encompass New Zealand. It has been approaching local labels this week with a fairly straightforward offer to place their content and branding on any iTunes store in the world, for a 20% commission on receipts. The standard contract term is 120 days. In, probably, all good faith, Loop is claiming to be the only local aggregator for iTunes.

But Jiggy.co.nz, which has hitherto been delivering internet digital downloads by means of billing to mobile phones, yesterday issued a press release in which director Dave Gibbons declared that, having met with the iTunes rep on Wednesday, he was "looking for 40 New Zealand acts to submit their albums for the iTunes New Zealand store when it opens." Jiggy also aggregates for a larger aggregator, The Orchard.

So there would seem to be something of a race on. Perhaps there'll be room for two. The interesting thing is that there is plenty of potential for the local indie labels to offer artists a much better deal on digital distribution than the major music companies, because what the majors offer is so bad.

Meanwhile, the impression grows that Telecom has somehow screwed up the launch of its new "unleashed" broadband deals. NZBC's Chris Bell reports frequent micro-outages this week, and no joy in diagnosing the problem, let alone getting it fixed. PC World's PressF1 has a lengthy discussion thread.

Meanwhile, PA reader Janet Digby reports that Telecom is now trying to switch people back from the new accounts it is marketing:

You are probably aware of this, but there some Xtra customers are experiencing major delays with mail sent through Xtra.

Some mails were delayed up to 8 hours yesterday and some are yet to arrive.

While all this was happening I had an odd call from Xtra asking whether I would like to change plans - from Go Large to one with a data cap. The person calling seemed unable to answer even basic questions including why I would change to a plan with a data cap - except to say that there was less 'interference' with the plan she was suggesting. When I commented that all plans were supposed to be max speed she seemed confused regarding her mission.

Perhaps they are trying to encourage customers to pull back as their system can't handle the additional traffic resulting from their new plans.

Customer service acknowledge they are having problems (I understand some people can't get on to their broadband connection too) I asked why these issues weren't listed on their website and he didn't know.

To top it all off - their phone system is on the blink and the opening recording tells you that you might get cut off - which I did, twice!

Hmmm. I'd been wondering if it was time to switch away from my 2Mbit/s Wired Country connection. Clearly, it is not …

Elsewhere …

The Fundy Post lists the reasons why members of the Exclusive Brethren should not send emails. (I'm taking a break from this sort of thing today, but I'll have some more on Maxim's shonky NZVotes project next week.)

NotPC explores the "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum physics.

DubDotDash covers the RDU controversy (look out for "Real RDU" link in the comments - it's very funny).

And Syd Barrett's things are being auctioned off.

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