Posted Thursday, September 02, 2004

iTunes Affiliate Adventures: The Terms They Are a Changin'

Yesterday, I sung the praises of Apple's new iTunes affiliate program, which pays Web publishers a cut when they send business to the iTunes Music Store. It's a smart idea that will cause the Web to be peppered with links to Apple's music store.

When I wrote that post, I had signed up for the affiliate program, but I hadn't actually been accepted yet. When you sign up, you must supply some details about your Web site -- its Web address, name, description, and more. Some higher power then reviews your application and either approves or denies it.

It's now been about 24 hours, and I still haven't received notification that this site has been accepted into the affiliate program. But I have already received a notification that the terms of the program have changed.

That was fast.

The changed terms appear in this lovely page. I haven't done so much horizontal scrolling since the days when Macs had 9-inch screens. Did I read it all? For that matter, did I read the even more obtuse terms and conditions, many of which appeared in ALL CAPITALS, that I agreed to when signing up in the first place?

What do you think?

Apple has outsourced its affiliate program to LinkShare, which runs affiliate programs for dozens of major companies. So far, the entire process has not been what you'd call "consistent with the Macintosh user experience." I'm hoping the process of creating affiliate links will be easier than the process of applying to begin with.

Oh, and a quick word about the riches that await. Like many affiliate programs, the iTunes program doesn't write you a check until your earnings reach a specific amount -- in this case, $25.

I'd like to see the option of having your affiliate revenues applied to your iTunes account: sell some songs in order to buy others. offers a similar perk for its affiliate program: you can have Amazon simply send you a gift certificate for whatever amount you earned. It's convenient for affiliates and smart for Amazon, and Apple and LinkShare should adopt it for iTunes.

Thus ends the first installment of The Affiliate Files. When (if) I'm accepted to the program, I'll create some links and report on the process.