First I had to decide which reseller of UMG music to use and decided on Liquid Audio's On-Line store. One reason I picked this service is because they are the technology backers of this venture, so who better? I'm really glad I picked them, and you will see why after you read about the issues I faced.
Of course, there were plenty of music choices to pick from and it was pretty easy to find artists I was looking for. I first noticed that not every track is 99 cents. Some are higher -- it seems that the less popular stuff cost a little more. Some singles cost $1.49, but I found one free track on this CD.
After finding a CD I wanted, I purchased and downloaded the tracks individually and as one large download, since they provide both options. After downloading the files I could not get any of them to play. For some time this confused me, then I tried clicking on a link provided in an e-mail that was sent to me to confirm my order. Well, they did not tell me this on the website, but clicking that link authenticated me to listen to the tracks. This was a bit frustrating, but survivable. Also, I found you can only go through the process of purchasing and downloading with IE. I use Mozilla by default and was not able to purchase with that browser. You also need to use IE to open the URL in the e-mail that authenticate your tracks.
Once done with that I attempted to burn tracks to a CD. I was using a machine with Windows 2000 SP3 and Windows Media Player 9 (current release candidate for Win2K). Whenever I'd try to burn a track, the Roxio software would die. So I gave up on Media Player 9 and downloaded Liquid Audio's Player (v 6.1). When trying to burn with this player it could not initialize my HP DVD writer (model dvd200i) and for some reason was calling it a 200j instead. I also tried downgrading to Windows Media Player 7.1, but that did not work either. The burning software did not even know my DVD Burner was there. I also tried Real's RealOne player, but it can not burn WMA files.
So I gave up and contacted Liquid Audio's Customer Service. They informed me (via e-mail exchanges) that their software could not recognize my DVD Burner and I would only be able to burn using a CD Burner, not a DVD/CD Burner. I was offered a refund, but I did not want that. I've got a CD Burner, but on another PC. So I thought I'd be able to move the files and burn there. I came to find out find out that I can move files to listen to them on another PC, but they can't be burned on a PC other than the one to which they were first downloaded. So Liquid Audio sent me another link to download tracks with after hearing I had to go to another PC. Then I was able to download and burn tracks with no problem.
You can play the tracks as much as you like on your PC, burn to CD as many tracks as you want, copy the burned CDs, and use the CD to make MP3s. Keep in mind there is supposed to be some form of digital watermarking on the tracks though. So if you give the music to anyone else, they (UMG) are supposed to be able to know it was you who violated their copyright.
So overall it was pretty frustrating making my first CD with this service, but I'll probably be using it again in the future. Like Tuesday, when some new music comes out. I have been boycotting UMG for almost a year, since when I heard they would copy-protect CDs. With this service I have officially ended my boycott.
- Easy to download and burn a CD if you have Windows, IE and a CD Burner (not a DVD Burner).
- Easy to find tracks from UMG artists that are well known.
- Good customer service. They really helped as much as they could given the software limitations and offered a refund even though I would have been able to keep playing the tracks on my PC.
- No need to go to the store in the Winter!
- No player seems to be able to burn using a DVD burner.
- Tracks are not authenticated till you click a link in an e-mail sent to you.
- Unable to use the service to purchase tracks using Mozilla.
- No small intro type tracks available, even when you buy a full CD of tracks.
Slashdot welcomes reader-submitted features and reviews -- thanks to darnellmc for this review.