Why isn't everything digital sold like apps?
What's the point of these middlemen?
iTunes provides the store and artist provides the product. In 2013 why does capitalism and technology allow this to occur
iTunes / Apple takes the curated approach with their catalogue, they obviously don't want you there unless you're signed to a label. That is fine - let's not act as if iTunes is the holy grail of music distribution - I'd argue that if you aren't big enough to get into iTunes without another middle men you're very unlikely to make any sales there either - especially as a small indie artists. It caters to casual listeners of popular music.
Bandcamp on the other hand is for enthusiasts actively seeking for obscure music. Depending on your audience you might be a lot better served there.
As others have said, shitty is entirely subjective.
But pirated is a really easy problem to solve. Just run it through an identifier like Echoprint.
I strongly disagree that shitty is entirely subjective. Contextually, "shitty" could mean music recorded on a cell phone, or tracks that were 2 seconds long, or tracks that have been transcoded 7 times and sound like they're being played from a walkie-talkie at the bottom of a well.
I can understand why a music platform might want to enforce some standards of professionalism or technical competency, even if they didn't want to do so for matters of taste.
then came TuneCore which became the middle man to make it easy for both sides. this was great and empowering. but they have a big yearly fee.
it is possible to deal directly with Apple but its actually a significant value add to go through a middleman and reduce the labor and billing complications.
When a site starts up, they don't need to go cut individual deals and setup the transfer technology with every label and artist. They can approach a few companies like the one I worked for, write a plugin and get a huge amount of content right away. The labels don't want to monitor every site that starts up and send content and handle royalties. They could set usage rules and the content would be sent to the appropriate sites.
Once sites get huge like iTunes, they cut their own deals with the major labels. But without services like this there is no way small artists and music sites could ever survive, it would be far too time consuming.
I'd ask why music is sold at all when people will freely distribute it for you, and marginal costs are gone.
The answer to both cases, though, is legislation. Tons of law around recording, labels, etc that make it even if Apple wanted to be kind and play nice it is probably a legal morass to let anyone sell music next to labels.
Though the more likely case is that the middleman exist because they are powerful. Apple couldn't have launched itunes and had the success they did by trying to ignore labels - when all the popular bands are on labels, and new musicians think they need a label to be successful, Apple has to play ball with that mindset.
And mindsets change slowly. Expectations will evolve much slower than technology. It is the same reason apps took 15 years past the launch of the Internet to come to fruition, because moving past pieces of plastic in ones hand took some time.
As someone else pointed out, they don't want to become the "YouTube of Music" - but I suspect it's more because they want to avoid all of the copyright issues that come with such a mantle. No need to be sued or worry about DMCA so much etc.
It seems that DistroKid solves this problem by uploading the music to all the music stores (not really all atm but maybe they will get there). This way musicians doesn't need to study what kinds of hoops they need to hop through to get included in any of the stores.