the iTunes effect

The truth as of April 2013: if you want to read a Kindle-published book, you can read it on any hardware that can run a reasonably up-to-date Web browser. The same is true for any Kobo publication. You don't need a special client, you don't need to buy an ebook reader.

But if you want to buy something from iTunes, you can't. That's because iTunes won't work unless you install their client, and their client is not supported on all platforms. Not surprisingly, I'm on one that isn't supported.

Now, this isn't a "complaining" blog post, because 98% of the time I don't especially notice. What I want to get into is why I don't notice, and what that means for anyone who wants to self-publish something they've created, whether that's stories or music or anything else.

Life without iTunes means that I'm exposed to music that is considered more obscure in my geographical area, though it may be popular elsewhere. Out of the last four albums-for-lack-of -a-better-term I've bought:

Two were from house concerts I attended (best small-venue acoustics ever, by the bye).

One was reviewed in a newspaper in a foreign country (there the release was major news; my local press barely covered it).

One I found out about because I follow the musicians on Twitter, and they used Pledge Music (similar to Kickstarter) to pre-sell.

There's a fifth release I want to get when it comes out in June. It was also a foreign-press find.

So what? Near as I can tell:

My tastes are trending more towards alternative just when my age, gender, occupation, and income bracket are all indicating I should be getting more conservative and having more mainstream tastes.

"Regionalism" is on shakier ground than a lot of big companies should be comfortable with. From where I'm sitting, it seems like the smaller independent artists are having a much better time embracing global marketing than the majors.

Straightforward, direct appeals can work very, very well. I got to preview all but one of my recent purchases in their entirety. There was no finding out I'd just blown twenty bucks on a single.

There's nothing wrong with using major distribution channels to make your work available, but if you only use the majors, some people will not be able to give you money at all.

It's easy to write off support of the alternatives as small, unimportant, not worth the effort. I'm sure most analyses used to show that about Apple.

But then look what happened.

I know, I know, anecdote is not the singular form of data. I just think it's interesting to consider.

What say you?