When Apple launched iTunes back in 1998, it was a pivotal time for the music industry, and it changed everything about how we buy music almost overnight. Consumers could now access music instantaneously, picking and choosing just their favorite tracks. No longer was it necessary to purchase a whole album to get the one or two songs you wanted most. Unfortunately, for all the good iTunes has done for consumers, it has has an entirely opposite affect on the music industry, particularly those who make the music. As a result, some artists have outright refused to have their music sold through iTunes.
One of the most vocal holdouts has been Garth Brooks, the biggest selling artist in Nielsen SoundScan history. In an interview published in the L.A Times, Brooks said his beef with iTunes is that it is grounded in selling singles, while he wants his music sold as complete albums to protect the songwriters and music publishers who depend on income from tracks included on those recordings. Well, last September, Brooks put his money where his mouth is and launched GhostTunes.com.
While I recall hearing of GhostTunes when it first entered beta-testing, I had paid no attention to it until earlier this week. While waiting for Brooks to the take stage at one of his six sold out shows last weekend in Buffalo, NY, I could not help but notice the little cartoon ghost wearing headphones and towing a GhostTunes banner that kept parading across every video display surface in the arena—including the one that wrapped the entire perimeter of the seating area. It was as if I had fallen through some inter-dimensional doorway into Pac-Man—except the ghost was green.
So, I had to check it out, and for the most part, IMHO, what GhostTunes.com has created is every bit as good, if not better, than what the major (iTunes and, and to a lesser degree, Amazon) download sites offer.
While Brooks is part owner of GhostTunes, it’s not just about him. There are more than 7 million singles and albums offered by most any artist you can think of. And you don’t always have to by the entire album, it’s up to the copyright owner to decide how their music will be sold. Many still offer singles.
From the standpoint of the user experience—because music is the only product GhostTunes sells—it is much more like being in a music store than in the music dept. of an electronics store. The descriptions that accompany each listing offer artist bios and trivia, and all tracks can be auditioned. Traditional search fields are employed, and you can sort by relevance, newest and most popular.
Single albums are priced typically at $9.99, singles at around $1.29. As soon as you make a purchase, you can download your purchase to all your devices (unlimited) and stream your music from the GhostTunes.com or the mobile app.
While not every song by every artist is available, there’s a lot of music on GhostTunes.com you can’t get elsewhere. For example, Brooks is offering a “Bundle” that includes basically everything he’s ever recorded, plus his next album, all for $29.95.
So, what’s the bottom line? If you are tired of shopping for music in online department store, GhostTunes.com offers comparable pricing and a more music-centric experience. It’s most certainly worth checking out—especially if you would like to see more of your musical allowance going back to the people who make the music.