The iTunes music store

Now that Apple are planning for all songs on iTunes to become DRM free, the service has suddenly become a lot more attractive.

I’m considering using it as my primary means of purchasing music.

Has anyone here used to store before, and how have they found it? Any opinions would be appriciated.

I have an iPod and I use iTunes to both sort my music and make the occasional purchase. In general, I prefer to to buy cds for the album artwork and for the physical copy of the disc.

I haven’t experienced any problems with purchasing anything. My only advice to you would be to enable use of the shopping cart to prevent accidental purchases. That happened to me once when I had to update my payment information after attempting to purchase an album. It disappeared, so I tried to purchase it again, and two copies of the album showed up in my download tab. I don’t enable to Genius feature, but if you want it to recommend new music based on your existing library, I can see where it might prove useful. The shopping cart has a similar function.

Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

Although the CD is technically a superior format (just as the vinyl is superior to the CD), the concept of not having a physical copy suits my lifestyle better. I have a few CDs in storage, but I only ever listen to the ripped copies on my laptop or iPod. CDs are great… if you have somewhere to put them.

The main turn off with the iTunes music store is being tied to the iTunes/iPod ‘ecosystem’. Not so bad if there’s no DRM restricting what you do with the tracks, however if I decided to change to another device other than the iPod, or to an OS that doesn’t run iTunes natively (such as Linux), the experience of re-downloading the music wouldn’t be particularly easy any more. The lock-in that Apple has created, if only artificial, does have it’s drawbacks. If the AmazonMP3 store was more globally available, I’d probably go with that instead.

I personally only want to pay for music if I can get a physical copy. The technical quality of the recording matters a bit (though unlike Solo I prefer CD to vinyl) but it it came down to it I’d rather buy a cassette than an MP3.

That’s just not how I roll.
(Maybe this isn’t really contributing to the topic but some conversation is better than none?)

For the vast majority of sound systems for most consumers, the quality difference between high bit rate MP3s vs CD is negligible, to be honest. And since most people listen to their music via headphones nowadays, unless you’re sporting a pair of $300 Shure headphones or something, the difference is even less important, IMO. But for audiophiles, yeah… MP3 sucks.

As for iTunes, it’s my primary source of acquiring music now. Rather than spending time going to the store and hoping they have that one song I’m looking for and having to pay $15 for an entire album (when all I really want is that one song) simply doesn’t work for me. I generally will hear a song I like on Pandora, will grab it off iTunes (which is even easier/more dangerous now that I have an iPod Touch and can download wirelessly), and I can play it then and there. As an added bonus, buying off of iTunes provides the cover art and proper tags and whatnot with the MP3 that you would likely have to search for yourself… well, at least in the case of some of the more obscure stuff.

It’s a very painless process and it saves on packaging (which, in turn, saves on space). Granted, I’m tied to iPods now, but frankly, I really don’t mind at this point :slight_smile:

I sort of agree. For example, what happens if you lose your computer and backup (or the backup is out of date)? As far as I’m aware, Apple doesn’t allow you to redownload purchased tracks. With CDs, you have less eggs in one basket and a physical copy that you can re-rip your music from. It certainly has advantages, if you have the storage space.

You should be able to copy any iTunes Plus files to another player capable of playing AAC (the successor to MP3), and upgrade all your old tracks (for a fee). The DRM issue is a bit of an issue for me, but now that Apple are planning to faze this out, you’ll be much less limited. We can thank competition from AmazonMP3 for that.

Topic revival.

I recently bought some music off the iTunes Store. However, I don’t think I’m going to stick with it.

As I see it, the main problems are:

  1. Watermarks. Every file includes my name and email address. Supposing my computer was hacked, and the files added by someone to a torrent site, I could be sued for copyright infringement. Imagine if for every CD that you bought, the retailer appended your receipt data to the CD? This isn’t a huge issue in most scenarios, but why add this information at all when it doesn’t add any value for consumers?

  2. You can only download the file once. Again, this isn’t a big issue in most cases, but what if my laptop or iPod is lost/stolen/breaks? If a service like Steam can allow multi gigabyte games to be downloaded unlimited times, there’s no reason why iTunes can’t do the same.

  3. iTunes is a monopoly for (mainstream) digital music, at least here in New Zealand.

  4. There is no lossless option. On the right speakers, the quality difference between AAC and lossless is certainly noticeable. Apple already have their own lossless format (Apple Lossless) that could be used, or a free lossless format such as FLAC could be embraced. I’m not saying that it should be the default option (for people listening to music with tinny iPod earbuds, it really doesn’t make a difference), but the choice to download a song in either AAC or a lossless format would make a lot of sense. If digital downloads are to be taken seriously by audiophiles, a lossless option will be necessary.

  5. Purchases have to be done through the iTunes software. This limitation is completely artificial, especially considering that the latest version of the store is rendered using standard HTML/CSS and a built in version of Webkit. With very little effort, Apple could make the store accessible to users of other browsers and platforms.

Dropping DRM is a good start, but digital distribution systems still have long ways to go. Any more thoughts on the topic? At least until points 1 and 2 are resolved, I’m going to stick with buying the occasional CD… just the albums for which I like 90%+ of the tracks (in other words, not many).

I highly doubt you could be sued for this seeing how it’s trivial to remove, add or manipulate the information in the files. That said I do agree that there’s no real reason to keep that information there.

I do believe they allow you to use a one-time reset, and now that they’re DRM free you have no problems making a backup of your songs. While it’s true Steam allows you to download your games an unlimited amount of times, the games are still linked to the Steam service (online activation, mandatory updates, …), which isn’t the case with iTunes.

I fully agree. I never understood why there’s an option to convert your (lossy) mp4 into an Apple Lossless file either, what’s the point in that?

I don’t really have much of a problem with this since buying music on iTunes is a very straightforward process, that is if you can stand waiting for the application to start up (that could seriously use some optimization).

I’m a bit surprised you didn’t mention the fact that you can’t buy music from the iTunes stores of other countries, that’s the biggest issue for me. That said If I can buy the music from iTunes I will, it’s only when I can’t that I’ll consider buying a CD.

It’s the principal of having this extra data included in the file that bothers me. If the information is designed as a measure to trace what I (or someone else) does with the file in some way, then it is a breach of privacy. If it is not designed to be used in this way then, as you said, why add the information in the first place?

Good Old Games ( is a better example than Steam in this case, as it is a service which allows you to re-download individual DRM-free games an unlimited number of times.

Although making your own backups makes sense, it’s not ideal. When you purchase a CD, and rip it to your computer, you already have a backup in the form of the physical CD. In making a backup manually, you’re having to pay for extra storage space, be it blank CDs, hard-drives, or online storage. Plus there’s the added inconvenience of making that backup. I believe music digital distribution systems have the potential to be more convenient service than CDs… right now I feel they’re around the same level on convenience, but in different ways.

The one-time reset option is nice, but I think this could be taken a couple of steps further and made automated and unlimited. Depending on a human to re-download legitimately purchased songs is somewhat artificial (not to mention slower than using an automated service).

I didn’t realise that this was an option… it only makes sense going from Apple Lossless to AAC in any case.

As you said, iTunes bloat is not pleasant. I will eventually be switching to Songbird (once it’s mature enough), so I’d prefer to be able to open the store in my application of choice, rather than having to have both Songbird and iTunes installed. Also non Mac/Windows users are excluded for superficial technical reasons. A CD is completely OS/software agnostic.

Good point. That’s probably because I’m not aware of what I’m missing out on. :slight_smile: Much of the music I listen to is only available on CD right now anyway (albums from CD Japan for example), but the regionalising of music is definitely a legitimate concern.