* Apple has hired an editorial staff with backgrounds in music to decide what gets featured. * Editorial team makes decisions every day as to what goes where. * Big labels don't get preferential treatment. * "We pick music we like, and we think everyone else is going to like." * "We've had a lot of people offer money", but Apple refuses money, and has no plan to ever accept money for placement. * Even what looks like a banner ad at the top of the screen is put there by Apple. * When an audience member doubted they'd stay with this policy, they pointed to their 20 years of selling Apple computers, and never selling icons on the desktop or any of the other things that companies have offered to pay them a lot of money to do. * (Plus Steve Jobs reminded us they have $41 billion in the bank and are not in debt. They're not desparate for cash.)
I'm not morally against ads or product placement, but I do think that in this particular case the iTunes service has the potential to become so much more than another bloated, useless mp3.com type bullshit music portal thing. Developing and maintaing the trust that they're actually trying to sell you music that you'll enjoy rather than forcing label interests on you will be so much more valuable in the long term to them. Imagine Rolling Stone magazine with a "click here to purchase this song or album" button after each review and they make money every time even one person follows their recommendation.
If you ran a system like that, why would you ever want to pollute up your reputation with trying to to foist a bunch of garbage on people?
I hope it all goes well for them.