To Be Frank, by Frank Edmonds, January 27, 2015

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They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, it seems that in the world of iTunes, there isn’t even any such thing as a free song any more.

iTunes is the music download arm of the mighty Apple corporation. Apple, you will recall, started off making their extremely good (but really rather expensive) Apple Mac computers.

Then they seriously hit commercial paydirt by inventing the iPod, the must-have portable music listening device. And then, amazingly, they hit paydirt yet again, by inventing the iPad, the must-have portable computer tablet.

So, Apple, then. Clever company. Great stuff. Not short of a bob or two. So, iTunes. iTunes is where Apple would have you buy and download the music, to play on your iPod, your iPad or your iMac (it’s i-everything, isn’t it? But then we do live in a me-me-me kind of world).

Obviously the music industry these days is Not What It Was. The days of mega-rich rock stars, selling records faster than the factories could press them, have, for better or worse, been consigned to the Natural History Museum, pretty much.

These days iTunes still hope that you’ll part with your hard-earned cash to download your favourite songs and albums – as opposed to just stealing them off the Internet, that is. And to encourage you to do this, they’ve always let you have a free Single Of The Week.

It did what it said on the tin. It was free. You just had to click a button, and there it was, nestling in your chosen device, waiting for you to play and enjoy. And how good was that? OK, sometimes it might have been a bit rubbish – but then music taste is all a matter of personal choice. And sometimes it wasn’t rubbish at all.

Many of the music industry’s top acts of the moment were featured in iTunes’ free Single Of The Week, on their way up the ladder of success. It would often be the first time you heard and enjoyed the work of an artist that would go on to be a household name. And how good is that?

And of course, if you like what you heard, you’d want to go on and buy their music, wouldn’t you? And you’d tell your friends. “Hey, that free iTunes single is really good! No, not that one, that was rubbish – this one! Yeah! Good, isn’t it?”

It’s a fairly straightforward business model, isn’t it? You’re giving a little something out, to hopefully get a lot more back. iTunes did this religiously, every week, for ten years. Yes, ten years!

Then suddenly, at the turn of the New Year, without a word of explanation ... they dropped it.

Now OK, I wasn’t really expecting: “iTunes regrets to announce that from 2015 they will henceforth be too mean even to offer their loyal customers one free single a week.”

Well all right then, I was. Something, at least!

This is the iTunes who used to sell songs at 79p each all the time, until that went out of the window, so that now you’re lucky to find a song that isn’t 99p.

Is it any wonder kids don’t bother paying, quite frankly?

Buddy, can you spare a rhyme? Apparently not.