The music tech blogs are alive with the sound of indignation this week as Apple announced that they’ll be taking 30% of in-app subscription revenue.
I’m not particularly interested in whether this is legal, morally right or a good idea. For now, at least, it’s happening. Really the only thing worth discussing is what to do about it.
I don’t know what anybody else is doing. Where I work, we examined our legal, commercial and technical options, made a plan and moved on. There are options. Of all the ones that got rejected, this one was my favourite:
You want people to subscribe on your website. You don’t want them to subscribe in the app. Why not just make it easy to subscribe on the website, and then for the app, copy the sign-up process from my bank …
1) Please pick a username.
2) I’m sorry. That username is not available. Please select one of the following alternative user names:
3) Please enter your full mailing address into this form which requires fields that are not relevant to the country that you live in, and which will reject any postal code that can’t be validated against a database that we keep on a computer that looks like this:
The server seems to be busy. Please wait for an unspecified period of time…
4) Please enter your social security number and give us permission to run a credit check, even though you’re already a customer and you’re not actually trying to borrow any money.
5) For reasons of security, please answer us these questions three:
a) What is the average flight velocity of a swallow?
b) What the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you in the bedroom?
c) What are you wearing on your feet right now?
7) Here is your customer number:
You will need this to complete your registration and on every subsequent occasion that you try to get anything done, even though we have already insisted that you pick a unique username. It will not be displayed again or emailed to you. You will not be able to get another one without legally changing your name. Copy & Paste doesn’t work on this page, so you’ll have to write it down. Do not write it down.
8) Congratulations. You have signed up to our service and in doing so have let us know that you have amazingly low standards, and will tolerate just about any appalling bit of customer service we can think to throw at you, which makes you easily worth the extra 30% we had to give up.
This is almost exactly the process I went through to buy two tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra a few months back, and now they send me unsolicited e-mails. I liked the concert but hate the organization.