A 120 gb music player costs $30,000 to fill using iTunes.

Once again I’ve found a goldmine of bloggin’ material in the ads on YouTube. I don’t know why YouTube ads seem to be the only ones on the Internet that really jump out at me. It’s not like YouTube is the only mega-site I visit over the course of my day. I guess theirs are just bigger and more annoying than anyone else’s? Who knows.

So anyway you’ve got this clean-cut buttoned-down white boy, Wes Moss, slathered all over YouTube right now telling you how Microsoft’s Zune makes more economical sense than Apple’s iPod. The rationale is that if you have a 120 gigabyte iPod and you fill it with music from iTunes, you’ve spent the yearly gross income of a McDonald’s assistant manager. Obviously it’s much better to just pay a flat rate (say, oh, $15 per month) and get as much music as you want. In case you’re still skeptical, let me remind you that Wes Moss is a certified financial planner. A certified financial planner who — are you ready for this? — has a bachelor’s degree in economics. Mind = blown.

First I’d like to issue a formal apology to Mr. Moss for calling him a douchebag. Which I guess I technically haven’t yet, so let’s get that out of the way: this dude is a total douchebag. Granted, I’ve never listened to his radio show or read any of his books. Before I logged on to YouTube today I didn’t even know what a Wes Moss was. But come on, it’s not possible for that haircut or that smirk to exist on a non-douchebag. I’m sure Wes is a great guy and probably knows shitloads more about financial management than anyone any of us knows. I’m not saying he’s a bad person for being richer than I am, I’m just saying that I’m not the first person to load up YouTube today and say, “Wow, what a douchebag.” Seriously, Wes is one popped collar away from being the villain in an 80s college movie.

That’s not what today’s update is about, though. I want to talk about the ad itself and the concepts behind it, because it’s got such a marvelous “gotcha!” vibe to it. I haven’t crunched the numbers like that douchebag Wes Moss has, but I’m willing to take on faith that they’re accurate: if you bought 120 gigs of music from Apple’s online store, you’d spend thirty thousand bucks. Compared to that, paying Microsoft fifteen bucks to get access to that same music makes a steal look like a rip-off. That’s a savings of almost a million bajillion percent!

If you click the button and go to the Max’d Calculator you can find out exactly how much money you’ve thrown down the toilet that is your iPod compared to the unbeatable monthly fee Microsoft is offering. It’s math, so it’s totally convincing:

In this image our hypothetical iPod owner has his 120 gb player about two-thirds of the way full, and has spent over $20,000 getting there. Wow! I spend less than that on Pepsi in a year!

But Wes Moss is hoping you don’t think about this ad campaign too hard, because you might notice one of these two things:

1) Nobody, anywhere, has 120 gigs of music. If the average mp3 is five megabytes, a 120 gb player holds 24,000 songs. (And that calculation means I’ve gone and done the math I said I’d take on faith in the previous paragraph. Whoops.) Go ahead, name your 24,000 favorite songs. If you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “Gee Brickroad, I don’t even think I’ve heard that many songs in my entire life,” then you have something in common with everyone else on the planet. Of course this isn’t so much an argument against the Zune as it is against owning any music player with that kind of ridiculous capacity, but that’s okay because the second point is way stronger anyway:

2) Nobody’s music collection is made up solely of stuff they’ve bought off iTunes. The first thing my girlfriend did when she got her nowhere-near-120-gb-iPod was rip her entire CD collection to it. And without confirming or denying my own participation in such activities, I hear there are fast, easy ways to get any song you want on the Internet for free. If there is some crazy bastard out there who has an iPod full of every single piece of music ever written, chances are his total expenditure was much, much closer to $0 than $30,000.

It’s sort of like someone opening a store that rents out books, and justifies their service by pointing out how much money you would be out if you tried to fill a bookshelf that won’t even fit on your block. Oh, and also you still have your library card.

The real financial lesson Wes Moss is teaching us here is this: if Microsoft offers you a fat check to look like an asshole in an online YouTube ad, you should totally do it.

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4 comments to A 120 gb music player costs $30,000 to fill using iTunes.

  • Kirin

    Point #3!
    Most “music players” with a capacity as high at 120GB will also play *movies*. Which take up approximately a shitload more space per dollar spent than music files.

    Point #4!
    While I actually *have* filled most of my 30GB iPod with music files, I would be willing to bet Mr. Moss’s commission that a very substantial portion of those tracks are not available through Microsoft’s monthly Zune subscription. Heck, most of them aren’t available through iTunes either. You’d get a higher fraction if you include iTunes Japanese store (I have no idea if MS has a Japanese Zune subscription), but even so.

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion the “flat monthly fee for infinite music” route is better than the iTunes model. There are plenty of people who aren’t all that good at piracy who spend more than $15 a month from iTunes. It would be nice if the service didn’t involve misguided ad campaigns, actually provided decent-quality music files, and was free from DRM, but I don’t want to criticize an alternative to iTunes too much.

    The Internet really ought to have a legal way to get music that doesn’t suck, and iTunes is not it. Microsoft’s way isn’t it, either, I’m sure, but it’s nice to know that alternatives might be able to exist in hopes that one day a good one will pop up.

  • Kalderius

    In my opinion the “flat monthly fee for infinite music” route is better than the iTunes model. There are plenty of people who aren’t all that good at piracy who spend more than $15 a month from iTunes. It would be nice if the service didn’t involve misguided ad campaigns, actually provided decent-quality music files, and was free from DRM, but I don’t want to criticize an alternative to iTunes too much.

    The Internet really ought to have a legal way to get music that doesn’t suck, and iTunes is not it. Microsoft’s way isn’t it, either, I’m sure, but it’s nice to know that alternatives might be able to exist in hopes that one day a good one will pop up.

  • weareroger

    Brosef, having a 120 gb iPod/Zune is all about rocking the lossless audio at enormous bit rates.

    That said, Moss does, in fact, look like a total douchebag.

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