As part of Apple's last Mac World Expo press conference, the company announced that they would be focusing during these down economic times on reworking their core software. Apple's computers come loaded with many key software packages and they offer even trickier lifestyle programs as part of their iLife bundle.
In Apple's iLife 2009, Apple's vice president (not their cancer survivor founder, Jobs) announced that iLife 09 would have a component that would actually teach people how to play an instrument. "Learn to Play" will become part of Apple's Garage Band in the 2009 version. This will include nine free rock star tutorials from the likes of John Fogerty, Sarah MacLachlan and Sting, who will teach you the needed chops to play their songs.
The success of Apple's iTunes is unquestioned, despite the massive failure of the music industry and its four major labels to innovate anything new for consumers in the past 30 to 40 years. Apple innovates even on its worst day and this music tutorial takes a mainstream (albeit cheesy) phenomenon in Guitar Hero and brings it to Apple's platform with the type of style only Apple can bring to the table.
One encouraging sign in the music business today is that more people are into the "MI," or musical instrument, industry than ever before. While most electronics retailers like Circuit City and Tweeter are visiting the bankruptcy judge, Guitar Center and many independent music retailers are growing. Apple is smart enough to see this trend and jump all over it. More importantly, if "Learn to Play" becomes successful - and that is a big "if" - mainstream consumers will learn a grassroots, technical appreciation for music that will grow a new crop of more savvy music fans who will be able to see through the musical nightmare of the entire genre of rap, Britney Spears and any number of sissy-ass bands that sell records en masse today. In the best-case scenario, Apple has the potential to teach their users about music from the musicians' perspective.