Music's New Gatekeeper

From The Wall Street Journal

Every day, the roughly one million people who visit the iTunes Store home page are presented with several dozen albums, TV shows and movie downloads to consider buying -- out of the four million such goods the Apple site offers. How do bands get these boosts? Who decides whether Arcade Fire is plugged at the top of the iTunes site -- or whether Nickelback gets no mention?

Apple -- now one of the largest sellers of music in the U.S. -- offers home-page placement in exchange for things such as exclusive access to new songs, special discount pricing or additional material such as interviews with stars.

The decisions by the small group of Silicon Valley and music-industry veterans running iTunes can help put an unknown band on the map, adding millions of dollars in sales, while relegating others to the obscurity of the site's virtual back bins.

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