Online music purchase problemsI am sort of a music prosumer – I live, eat and breathe music. Have been for years.
I just don't get the music industry any more. Not the record industry, not the online, digital concepts like iTunes or Napster. They are simply not designed for me.
Look at me and my kind of music consumption: I want to own my music. I listen to it a lot and for a very long time. I can easily bring up important records and bands that have been with me for more than twenty years, which is more than half my life.
Closer look at iTunes online store
Then look at the online offers that are available. Let's begin with the Apple offering iTunes. I have been a Mac user since 1988 and I have love almost every minute of it. However, iTunes music store is still not for me. It is by far the least stupid of the music stores selling digitally protected files, but it is still stupid.
It requires more than I can imagine anyone can keep. To play the music, my computer must be registered with Apple. After launch, iTunes only permitted purchased songs to be played on three computers. Now the number is up: five simultaneous registrations are allowed. But this is the catch - requiring registrations at all.
If I look back at my way of listening to music, twenty more years of music interest seems like a safe bet. That means I want to be able to listen to all music I buy now and twenty years on. Here's the catch: Can I count on Apple to exist twenty years from now? Can I count on the digital protection system Fairplay to work when I want to listen to Fleetwood Macs album Say you will that I bought from iTunes?
The simple answer is no. I can't rely on Apple to exist twenty years, but I know my vinyls and cds still work, twenty years later and still counting.
Apple got one thing right: users want to own their music. In comparison, subscription based offers like Napster really got it wrong.
So what about the competition?
Napster rents its music. You pay a monthly fee, get access to a library of music and are welcome to listen to it for as long as you keep paying.
That is an advanced and expensive radio station – imagine having to hand your entire music collection over at once, leaving you with nothing when you stop paying. For the seller it might be profitable, but who in their right minds are willing to pay for that?
MSNs offering seems to be an iTunes ripoff, but just not as good. As usual in other words.
My remaining choices
For me, that leaves hoping for Apple to find new ways of opening the market. It also makes me keep buying cds and look for decent online alternatives.
Decent like Emusic . Or Audiolunchbox . Both sell unprotected mp3s that I can keep and keep playing for forty years to come.
Or sixty if I live that long.
After all, it is not up to the music store to tell me when to stop playing my music!