Well, it’s about time, but Apple have finally rolled out the iTunes Music Store to Australia. Now I can see what all the fuss is about.
I can see that I am impressed with how easy it is – I’ll have to make a point to not impulse buy, because it’s just so easy to do. The integration with iTunes is so smooth as to be unbelievable – it is very easy to see that this is why they make iTunes and why it’s free. (Heck, the only reason I run Windows on my home PC instead of Linux is to use iTunes)
That said… I’ve been having some thoughts about the whole DRM experience. In no particular order, here they are:
- I like the fact that you can authorise and de-authorise computers for a song’s DRM. When I first read the “5 computer” limit, I was worried because there was no implied time limit. 5 computers would only last me about 6 years (the two I have at home, plus their replacements eventually, plus the laptop I’m sure I’ll get in that time frame). Because it’s not a fixed limit, it’s not so worrying.
- I also like the way that the authorisation is associated with the account, not the song – this would make it easy to move from one computer to another. (I also like the implication that I _can_ share my music library with friends – I can “loan” an authorisation out to a friend until I decide I need it back)
- Have I bought a file or a license? It’s so hard to tell. But if it’s a license… how come I can’t re-download the song?
- I know why they don’t do variable pricing, and in general I agree with it… but there are some silly cases. Example: I was looking at Missy Higgin’s “Live at San Francisco” album. It has a number of special “iTunes-only” intros – of about 15 to 30 seconds. They each cost the regular $1.69 Huh? For less than 30 seconds? I think you can assume no-one will buy that, so why bother? It’s not like you can even buy the album (in that case… that collection was marked “by song only”)
- Again, have I bought a file or license? If I buy a song from an album, then buy the album, do I get the song price discounted? Why not? (And yes, the first two questions are rhetorical)
- More on the “file or license” issue – a number of songs are in multiple albums. And no, these aren’t different recordings – I’m thinking of bands that have bought out multiple “Best Of” style albums (like Kiss and Queen). The songs are the same recording – they have no difference in their copyright status, just as reprinting a book edition (unchanged) does not extend the copyright. Surely, if I buy one copy, I’ve bought them all, right? (Then there are the EP “singles” as well)
These “file or license” questions are not simply rhetorical. Consider: if I buy a CD twice, I have two physical copies of the CD. If I buy a song from iTunes twice, I will just have a second copy of the file (assuming it doesn’t just overwrite) with no additional privileges – I would have just paid $1.69 for the privilege of copying the file, something I could do for free. It is easy to see that consumer protection laws will have to be updated to deal with purely digital purchases sooner or later.
(Now, I know that the iTunes DRM is easy to get around. Heck, it’s built right into the software – burn it to disc (virtual or real) and re-import as MP3s or AAC. That’s not the point.)
Some other comments:
- Searching is a breeze. Damn shame that the first five searches I tried all turned out to be Sony labels (I checked later). But still, it was pretty good, and I’m sure that the back-catalog will continue to expand.
- I love the “preview” feature for the music videos. How come they don’t have that for audio as well?
- No TV shows for AU? Damn, and I was sooooo looking forward to downloading “Desperate Housewives”
- I’m really going to have to think about improving my broadband speed – 512/128 doesn’t seem as cutting edge as it used to. 🙂
- I’ll have to re-consider introducing a backup cycle – frankly, before now there wasn’t anything on my computer valuable enough to make me bother.
Well, to sum up: a cool piece of software. I can see my music purchases will increase – buying music at the price of a can of Diet Coke is a lot more tempting than buying a CD (half of which I won’t like anyway), and iTunes Music Store is a lot more convenient than trying to find the song I want on the P2P networks (which I gave up trying a long time ago). Thank you, Apple, for finally getting it out here (and boo-hiss to the various labels, especially Sony, that made the process so prolonged).