MacRelevant; iTunes Music Store Rip-off?

Recently, I noticed a television commercial for, a new per-song download store on the web. In the commercial, people sing along, sans music, to Rappers Delight. This is, of course, a direct rip-off of Apple Computer, Inc., commercials for the Apple Music Store. The background is white, with just the people listening to a MP3 player singing along.

Later that day, I receive an email via’s online feedback form from Drew Dallet, the president of Here is the email from Drew:

Let me start by saying I know this doesn’t relate to a specific article in your publication but I think it deserves to be published — for all the Mac users as well as creative types out there.

Dear editor —

As a graphic designer, marketer, and business owner I’m utterly disgusted by the recent TV spot promoting’s music store. To think that some agency was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to concept a nationally televised TV spot for and the best they could do was to do an exact rip-off of apple’s simple and elegant music store ads. I honestly believe that the executives at said, “hey lets rip off apple’s music store’s look and feel for our website and we can then rip off apple’s TV commercials as well!”

It’s an outrage! Up until now I often shopped for their selection and pricing. I will never again support anything they do. It’s for reasons like this that in a tough economy, great designer firms with amazingly original ideas are having a tough time succeeding.

Drew M. Dallet

While I agree with the sentiment Drew expressed, my initial thought process ran something like this:

The entire advertising world seems to me to be incredibly short on creative ideas. How many people could recognize one automotive commercial from the next? One beer commercial from the next? One feminine product commercial from the others? The entire television commercial industry, with but a very few exceptions, have made a carrier out of copying what ever else is out there. So why be upset with for doing the same thing?

Flattery is the sincerest form of flattery? Well, if your entire business model, right down to advertising, is to simply rip-off another company, sure. And the more I saw of, the more I came to realize just how blatant their theft of iTMS is.

This is not simply fair market competition. This is stealing of intellectual property, as far as I am concerned. It can be argued, and I am sure it will be, that sells music via a website, rather than through another propriety application such as iTunes. This is true, as currently only Macintosh users on OS X using the iTunes music player can access and buy music from the iTunes Music Store. But that is like a company furnishing their restaurant to look just like McDonalds, but only placing them in shopping malls, using Donald McDonald (rather than Ronald) as their clown-faced spokesman. That would never fly, and neither should

As for advertising music prices at 79-cents a song, Bob LeVitus published an eye-opening article on the subject on his always entertaining Houston Chronicle “Dr. Mac” column on July 25th in which he found “’s big marketing push is songs for 79 cents. But it’s a bogus claim. For example, only one song in its Top 100 Downloads section cost 79 cents; all the others had prices from 99 cents to $1.29.

Every song at the iTunes Music Store site costs 99 cents.”

Ouch. Also in the article, LeVitus found:

“ limits the number of CDs you are allowed to burn to one, three, or 10 burns for most songs, while iTunes Music Store, places no limits on the number of burns.”

“ sets strict limits on what you can do with the songs you buy. Most are bound to a single PC, so you’re only allowed to listen on one computer, while every song you buy at iTMS can be played on up to three Macs.”

“ restricts the number of portable MP3 players you can transfer most songs to, while the iTMS allows you to copy every song you buy to all the iPods you own.”

“√Čtheir search engine didn’t work. I was never able to search the site for a song, an artist or an album. Each time I tried, I got “server not found” messages, and I tried three Web browsers: Safari, Internet Explorer and iCab.”

“A two-song EP by Clay Aiken is $1.98 at iTMS but costs $9.49 at”

There is more, and LeVitus should be praised for this sort of article. I only hope that the truth of is learned sooner rather than later. Hey, if it was a really good deal, I would be happy to use the service. I don’t care where I buy my music from, honestly. As long as I can get a good price, it is easy to do, and I do what I want to with the music once I get it. Right now, however, iTMS is, by far, the BEST place to buy digital music for a Macintosh user. Bar none. I have already spent close to fifty-bucks there. is a shameful company. They are thieves. They are about as original as Windows. The look of their website (see pictures below) is a poorly done rip-off of iTMS. Their television commercial is more than a rip-off; it falls into the plagiarism category. Hell, they even copied the FONT from Apple’s commercial!

I hope everyone joins me in spreading the word NOT to use to all out PC using friends. If enough people spread the word, perhaps will change their ways. Or go out of business, which this company clearly deserves.

Tim Robertson

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