May 16, 2007

Let's welcome Amazon to the digital music sales business.

No copy protection? Great. Let's have a response from iTunes and -- my favorite -- Audible.com.

ADDED: And, yes, I know iTunes has a deal to avoid copy protection on EMI's recordings. That's in the linked article. I'm just glad to see this competition.

13 comments:

John Stodder said...

Maybe I'm like a guy driving around in a Hudson Hornet in a world full of Oldsmobiles...but I don't understand why the subscription model, best exemplified by Rhapsody, isn't far more popular, especially compared with the punitive, nickel-and-diming that iTunes customers put up with. I send Rhapsody about $15 per month. For that I get to stream music from a huge library that includes every genre when I'm sitting at my computer, and download most of that library onto my computer and/or my mp3 for offline listening. As long as I log onto Rhapsody periodically, and plug my mp3 into my computer when I do, the downloaded songs remain accessible. So, if a new album comes out, for nothing extra, in minutes I can put it on my mp3 player and listen to it wherever I go.

I can also rip most of their library onto a CD, for which I have to pay 79 cents per track; but since I now listen to music mostly through my mp3 player, this is rarely necessary.

So, for less than the price of one marked-up CD per month, I have access to more than enough music to fill up hundreds of mp3 players.

I've never understood why this option isn't far more popular, why iTunes and iPods are seen as the pinnacle of digital music. If someone can explain it...

Balfegor said...

I think Apple either already has or is shortly going to implement DRM-free sales of EMI's library, albeit at a markup and at a higher bitrate.

In theory, I'm in favour of this, but in practice, I'm always concerned I'll lose my MP3 copies. Forget to copy them or something. Unlimited downloads my assuage some of this worry, I suppose, or backing up to DVD (which I do sometimes) but I'll probably continue to buy CDs and rip the MP3s myself, just so I have the physical media there.

Honestly, I'd be more likely to pay for DRM-free DivX or Xvid copies of TV shows than I would music, because there, I don't worry as much about losing a copy (most stuff I'll only watch once or twice anyhow). My DVD player plays DivX and Xvid files fine, and for trips, I use a Cowon A2 portable media player, which supports half the video codecs known to man. I don't think the media companies have come around to the possibilities of non-DRM media yet, though.

mcg said...

iTunes started this ball rolling already with higher-quality DRM free downloads for $1.29. Of course, that was just with EMI, but that's Amazon's only major label too.

The one thing Amazon has going for it here is that they're using MP3, which is more universal than iTunes' AAC. However, many players do support AAC. Furthermore, AAC at 256kbps is significantly higher quality than the standard 128kbps MP3, and marginally better than 256kbps MP3. Amazon isn't indicating what bit rate they're using yet, but I do hope they do 256kbps.

SteveR said...

JohnStodder,

I am Sgt Schultz in Stalag 13 (a house with teenagers). I know nothing, I see nothing, but I hear music.

TMink said...

I love my ipod! It sits in front of me now, playing "Groaning the Blues" by Clapton. I get SO much more work done with it going on in the background. It is fabulous.

I have bought 4 songs and one album for it that was downloaded, the other 6,000 plus songs I ripped myself from records and cds. I have to have something in my hand, and I do not want someone else decided the bitrate for me or what computer I am "allowed" to transfer it to.

The songs I bought were not available other ways, neither was the "album." I will still pick up a few things that way, but while I can get records for 3.99 and up that sounds great once I clean them up, I will never give a fig about low bit crippled music that has no intrensic backup.

I do not know how other people settle for that.

Trey

PatHMV said...

iTunes was indeed there first, cutting a similar deal with EMI at the beginning of April of this year.

Sigivald said...

Tmink: What you think of as virtues, many people think of as nuisances.

I have something like 1,300 CDs; they take up a lot of space. It doesn't bother me much, but the fact of having a backup in the form of CD might not be even close to worthwhile for a lot of people, compared with the space of storing them and the effort of encoding.

(Re. bitrate... lots of people simply don't care.

As long as it sounds good enough, they're fine. Sounds better than the radio, sounds fine on their headpones, big deal.

Audiophiles simply aren't the target market; they're both too demanding and too few in number.

I personally only bother with 192k MP3, myself. Most of what I listen to isn't perfectly-recorded classical or jazz or anything else that I'll miss anything out of anyway.

I mean, if it's a recording from 1984 that was originally on a crappy 4-track anyway, before being remastered to CD, what am I missing? Nothing!)

Wade Garrett said...

Um . . . a response from iTunes? Isn't Amazon itself responding to iTunes? Apple announced about a month ago that it was start going to sell EMI songs without copy protection through its iTunes store.

If iTunes is going to respond by trying to negotiate deals with the other labels to sell all of their music without copy protection, I would approve of it. However, I'm uncertain as to what sort of 'response' you want to see from them here, since they beat Amazon to the punch on this one.

Ann Althouse said...

John: That subscription model isn't interesting to me because I already have much of what I want on CD. I'm not interested in buying 15 songs a month, so I'm sure not interested in having to fork over $15 endlessly to play things. I'd like to buy things and own them permanently, even if I keep replacing my computers, which I do often. I think if you have to pay monthy, you ought to get satellite radio.

I know about the iTunes EMI thing. It's in the linked article. Not trying to be confusing. I can't believe I've fallen short in my usual dedication to Apple.

Palladian said...

Wade: has Apple implemented the no-DRM thing yet? I don't use the music store, so I haven't seen if it's happened yet or not.

Anyway, I hope this is the tip of the iceberg.

On a related note, here's Attorney General Gonzales flailing, getting in one more good whack at freedom, before he's flushed down the toilet.

Balfegor said...

On a related note, here's Attorney General Gonzales flailing, getting in one more good whack at freedom, before he's flushed down the toilet.

I hate that horrible little man. He's just so awful.

And from a straight partisan perspective, it makes no sense either -- it's not like the Recording Industry is full of people who vote Republican, after all. It's just that the RIAA and MPAA and their ilk line the pockets of everyone and anyone in Congress, and they reward us with asinine regulation like the DMCA, and now this.

Palladian said...

Balfegor- both parties are equally in the loathsome RIAA's pocket, and most are too old and or too technologically illiterate to understand what damage they're doing by signing innovation and freedom away to the highest bidder. America is going to be left further and further in the technological dust just so that a few mega-rich leeches can keep their jets.

TMink said...

Sigivald wrote: "Tmink: What you think of as virtues, many people think of as nuisances."

Heh heh! Well said, to the point and so true it made me laugh. Anyone who nails me that quickly and that well should call me Trey.

I care about bitrate, you might too! Not for background when I work, but when I am listening to the music to listen, it makes a difference.

What are you missing? Not nothing, but some of the soul! I am not criticising, just disagreeing with you. Neil Young said that digital is like looking at the world through a screen door. You realize that as well, you use the highest bitrate that itunes will let you on the mp3s. Bravo!

Most of mine are sampled there as well, only ther really nice sounding stuff is stored in ALC. ALC sounds glorious I might add!

And there are wonderful recordings from 1950, even some from 1984! I think you sell yourself short Sigivald. Take some time and listen to your favorite music through a good system with the lights down. The better the quality of the sound, the more the emotion comes through. Give it a try!

Good sound matters, if you let it. It just makes life better.

Trey