How an IT company struggled to sell music

    In 2001, Apple introduced iTunes. This was the first music product of the company - then there were no iPods or a store of the same name. To advertise the player’s capabilities, for some time after the release of iTunes, new Apple computers came with a selection of songs. This move looks quite prosaic.

    In the end, other companies of that time did the same - we already wrote about the music that came with Windows . But for Apple, it was a truly bold decision with real risks. The fact is that back in 1981, the company promised not to touch the music market. And twenty years later, in front of everyone, she broke her promise . Photo Olivier Miche Unspalsh

    The Story of Two Apple

    Music lovers know that in the music industry branding is not a joke. A considerable number of groups had to change their name in order not to "get" into the existing trademark. So Dust Brothers became known as Chemical Brothers , The Prodigy got a definite article in the name, and numerous other groups simply added the country of origin in their name.

    Therefore, when the Jobs and Wozniak Apple achieved their first successes in the late 70s, they were noticed by other Apple with an apple on the logo - a media conglomerate founded by members of The Beatles. Apple corps. appeared ten years earlier in order to combine all kinds of business projects of members of The Beatles. On the label "Apple Records" released albums of the group, and subsequently its former members. Apple Films has been producing music and feature films. "Apple Electronics" unsuccessfully tried to break into the gadget market. Under the Apple brand, there was even a boutique in central London.

    It is not surprising that shortly after the appearance of the American namesake, litigation began, which “divided” the sphere of influence of the two companies. British Apple Corps. reserved the right to work in the entertainment industry, and Apple Computer promised not to touch the music. Also Apple Corps. awarded damages in the amount of 80 thousand dollars.

    But the truce did not last long.

    Tug of war

    The first breach of contract by American Apple occurred in 1986, when a sound chip from Ensoniq appeared in the Apple IIGS . The British considered the MIDI-functionality of new computers an attempt on their territory. Their lawyers were hit by the entire Mac line, and even the company's CD drive, as products capable of playing and producing music.

    At the same time, active development of a new version of Mac OS was underway. In the American Apple, the British claims were taken seriously and tried to exclude any musical allusions.

    An interesting story in this connection happened with one of the system sounds - its author, audio engineer Jim Reekes, originally wanted to call him “beep”. Lawyers considered the name too musical, after which the audio designer jokingly suggested a more ironic option - “Let It Beep”.

    One of his colleagues took the joke seriously and tried to dissuade Jim, to which Jim replied: “I'm not serious, I'm like“ So sue me ”” (“I'm not serious, I want to tease them,” ill. “I'm not serious, I just want to say to them:“ Well, condemn me ””). It dawned on him - “So sue me” - a great name for system sound, especially if you spell the spelling a bit.

    So there was a sound called sosumi. Lawyers were lied to as a Japanese word, which literally means "completely unrelated to music." The name was approved, and after the release of the operating system it became legendary.

    In October 1991, five years after the start of the lawsuit, the parties reached a new agreement, according to which Apple Computer had to pay Apple Corps $ 26.5 million for violating the previous agreement. The Americans earned the right to sell products indirectly related to music, including devices and programs for its creation and reproduction. But the right to distribute "creative works of a musical nature" under the corresponding trademark remained with the British.

    Last battle

    Which leads us to the situation with which this article began. In the yard, the beginning of the zero, and Apple has ambitious plans to capture the music market. In 2001, iTunes - the player for MacOS was released. In order to advertise the product, a sampler of 40 songs was delivered with the new poppies - from The B-52's pop songs to the Infected Mushroom. It can be assumed that the connection of the product with music is “mediated” - music is not for sale, but is attached as a gift.

    But Apple is already entering dangerous territory.

    Photo by Raquel Martínez Unspalsh

    In the fall of that year, the iPod comes out. Journalists handed out copies of the product with preloaded albums. They even include two Beatles albums, but since there is no commercial element here, the British have nothing to catch on. When the iTunes Store was launched two years later and Apple began distributing and selling music, Apple Corps lawyers. once again rolled up their sleeves and went to court.

    Apple Computer claimed that the agreement reached in 1991 could only be violated by the company if its products came with music CDs. While songs are distributed through the virtual store, Apple is only an intermediary, the creator of software for sales. There was another argument against the company - at that time, the British were actively looking for partners for digital distribution.

    In the event of a successful transaction between Apple Corps. and as a distributor, the Apple iTunes brand would infringe on the territory rightfully owned by Apple Corps.

    Defeat of the Beatles

    The press expected that, as in previous disputes, the parties reached an amicable agreement without bringing the process to court. But this time, hopes did not materialize. In May 2006, after three years of litigation, British judge Anthony Mann recognized Apple Computer's right to sell and distribute music until the company is directly involved in its creation. His interpretation of the 1991 agreement was consonant with the interpretation of the Americans: as long as Apple Computer does not use the trademarks assigned to Apple Corps, they can run the music business.

    Apple Corps appealed but failed. The victory was won by the Americans.

    After Apple officially obtained the right to go beyond the computer industry, the company changed its name to Apple Inc. In the same year, in order to avoid further litigation, Apple bought trademarks associated with Apple Corps. In a press release, Steve Jobs said : “We love the Beatles, and it hurts us to quarrel with them over brands. We are glad that we were able to positively resolve this conflict. ”

    Photo by Alexandr Bormotin Unspalsh

    Apple Corps. continue to use their trademarks - now under an exclusive license granted by Apple Inc. And in 2010, the entire catalog of the company became available on iTunes.

    Apple and free music

    Partly because of this lawsuit, Mac OS is not as much associated with free music as Windows. Apple simply could not afford to take that much risk. But they carried out experiments one way or another. Back in 2005, the company released two samples available for download on the iTunes Store. In the past, we talked about the music that was handed out to reporters. And it is worth noting that the contents of these samples are not at all similar to what was on the first iPods .

    The first sampler included bands from Atlantic and Lava Music, such as Death Cab For Cutie and Porcupine Tree. On the second were the wards of Universal and Motown - including Scissor Sisters and Acon.

    But the most famous case related to the distribution of music happened after the agreement between the two "apples". In 2014, to the delight of a small percentage of Apple users, all owners of iTunes accounts were presented with a new U2 album. According to Wired magazine, this move was “worse than spam,” and U2 itself in record time became “America’s most hated group.” Apple had to create a special page with instructions for removing this album from its library.

    By that time, new versions of Windows were no longer supplied with “trial” music. And Apple hasn't done anything like that since. It is logical to assume that with the success of streaming services, such marketing moves we will no longer see. But for many people, they will remain the subject of nostalgia.

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    What else can be read in our “Hi-Fi World”:

    What was on the first iPod: twenty albums that Steve Jobs chose in 2001
    Why isn’t the music recorded as before?
    Innovation SSI-2001: the story of one of the rarest sound cards for the IBM PC (and its replica)
    Enthusiast recreated the sound card Sound Blaster 1.0 - talk about the project

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