On magazines, music, apps and lessons already learnt

Think about your music collection. Chances are you’ve got it gathered together in a single library: iTunes. Everything is indexed by multiple bits of metadata, allowing you to re-order, search and smartly collate tracks with ease. The tracks are easily transferable from one device to another, so will most likely outlive the hardware that you currently store them on. And you can choose to buy single tracks or collected bundles of tracks curated by the band – it’s entirely up to you.

It’s a model that works. Now consider this alternative:

Every single band only provides their music within an app – one that only runs on one particular device, a device that’ll probably be defunct within a few of years. There’s no way to search or organise tracks across these apps because they’ve all been designed to completely different standards. And it’s pretty expensive too. You only wanted that one track everyone’s raving about, but the band will only let you buy it with twelve other tracks that really don’t interest you.

To start with, it’s not so bad. You’ve got your three or four favourite bands. But then you think about all those other bands you like to dip into every now and then. The home screen of your device soon fills up with dozens of band apps that all basically do the same thing, but with different content (and completely different ‘unique navigation interfaces’). It’s a mess. Trying to locate one track, let alone several related tracks, becomes such a time-consuming pain in the backside that you just don’t bother. In fact, it’s probably easier to just go over to the shelf and revert to the trusty old media formats.

And now replace ‘band’ with ‘magazine’, and ‘track’ with ‘article’. Which model would you say works best?