Steve Jobs is the new “The Man” for Indie Music (Apple, iTunes and Music Podcasting)

Podbrix Cameron asks, over at The Podcast Network, why iTunes aren’t listing the TPN music shows, including my music show, TPN Rock? It’s a simple question I have no answer for. The Edinburgh Fringe Podcast started on August 1st, was in ITMS world-wide in about 24 hours, and even hit the Top 100 (it peaked at #23) last weekend. Other TPN Shows are there, just not the music ones.

It’s time to put on the Black Hat. Firstly, is it just the TPN Music shows? Nope. Amble over to the Association of Music Podcasting (disclaimer: I am a member of AMP) and you’ll find a massive number of issues with people getting their music podcasts listed into iTunes. Even though they were all present in the iPodder.org directory at the time Apple used that to seed their directory, they were mysteriously left out. And because they had already “been submitted” it was impossible to apply again.

Other podcasters who have music and regular shows are seeing the same thing. Regular shows are accepted in 24-48 hours, while the music shows disappear into an rss/xml void never to be seen again, never listed, and unable to be re-submitted. If those people want to make themselves publicly known, I’m sure they will. My place isn’t to name them here, just to spot a pattern. And there is one.

So why? It’s not as if Apple are ignoring new podcasts – more are being added every day. And they’re not being so obvious as to block every single music show. But of the ones that are there, there seems to be a rather large number of them that are coming under Adam Curry’s PodShow banner, or using that self same Adam Curry’s Podsafe Music Network catalogue (with its rather interesting terms and conditions for both the artist and the podcaster). And before you ask, Coverville is already paying it’s dues to the big boys, licensed as it is through ASCAP and the BMI.

So what are Apple pushing in the iTunes for entertainment? The music category has 456 entries from around the world, but I’ve yet to see Music ever listed on the front-page strips. The closest you get is Arts and Entertainment. Which was three music shows, two from traditional media and one from the Podshow stable:

Mainstream Media Talk Radio:
BBC Radio 5 Live (Sports) , KCRW Business, Z Morning Interviews, Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore.
Mainstream Media Music:
KEXP Music, Classic Rock Minute.
Podshow Music:
Accident Hash.
Others:
Cinecast, Soapnet One, KCRW Treatment , KCRW Morning Eclectic, Movies.com.

Arts and Entertainment Shows on ITMS UK Front Page, 26th Aug, 2005.

So why are Apple hiding away the majority of the ‘free’ music shows, promoting only those that are either part of the Curry stable, or those that are already established radio stations playing the same old music time and time again? I know that revenue from ITMS music sales is a big business for Apple, but if they’re going to appoint themselves the gatekeepers of podcasting, then they’d better ensure a level playing field or they could loose a lot of goodwill they’ve built up. And if they think it is a level field, then that’s not good enough. They need to make everyone else think it’s a level playing field as well.

I find it hard to believe that Apple are censoring podcasts or forcing music podcasters down a specific iTunes friendly route, but I’ve yet to come up with another conclusion that fits what I see. People always wondered what Apple would do with the number of music podcasts when they launched iTunes 4.9 (with Podcasting support). Is this their answer?

Two things I would like to see (1) TPN Rock listed in iTunes (2) Clarify the process of accepting or rejecting podcasts. Or do I need to quote Auric Goldfinger from Ian Flemings’s novel of the same name? “Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” There are a lot more than three music podcasts missing from iTunes.