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Music Media The Almighty Buck

Online Music Stores Compared 594

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the addictions-i-have-managed-to-avoid dept.
prostoalex writes "DesignTechnica has a comparison of the leading online music stores. With the variety of services available they only concentrated on several top ones. Conclusion? 'If you simply want to download music from the charts, then Yahoo and Wal-Mart are your cheapest options. For your MP3 player, there are several options, with Yahoo the best of all. If you're an iPod owner... then you're stuck with iTunes.'"
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Online Music Stores Compared

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  • Stuck, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gandell (827178) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:10AM (#13720991)
    "Stuck" with the most popular online music store?
    Poor, poor us.
    • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Most popular is not always the best.
      • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *
        Stuck with the most popular, the most vertically integrated, the best populated, and the most featureful music store. Poor us.
        • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:19AM (#13721044) Journal
          Will it always be the most vertically integrated, the best populated, and the most featureful music store?
          • Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sean.peters (568334)
            As an iPod owner, I really don't care if iTunes remains the best, most integrated, etc... because the premise here is false. I have about 1500 songs on my iPod, and I bought about 3 of them from iTunes. The rest I got from CDs I already owned, allofmp3.com, etc. "Stuck with iTunes"? Hardly.

            This is one of the more worthless articles to appear on /. lately. Not only is it very shallow treatment of the subject (no mention of allofmp3.com?), they apparently didn't bother to even run a spell-check. "Napspter"? "
        • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lussarn (105276)
          iTunes has no subscription. Thats one staggering blow. I don't consider DRM music to ever be mine so it makes no sence trying to buy it, and certanly not for $0.99 a track. $4.99/month as yahoo has is much more reasonable.
          • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by nra1871 (836627) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:07AM (#13721340)
            I can't wrap my mind around the subscription concept. I have a ton of music allready, and add maybe an album a month. I just can't see paying for the same music over and over again for the rest of my life. $4.99 a month sounds good, but for how long? The price will definitely creep up over time. Right now, if I am in a money crunch, I simply don't buy new music. WIth a subscription, I stop paying, and I lose everything.
            As for iTunes DRM...I simply burn it all to a music cd for archiving purposes. I can't say I've ever run into Fairplay's limitations, which are pretty damn liberal.
            • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Lussarn (105276)
              There is no such thing as liberal DRM as long as you don't own what you buy. I don't consider owning a licence to play on up to 5 computers simultaneously and being allowed to burn to cd without changing playlist 7 times as something i own.

              Give me the power to resell the stuff I bought and I will reconsider. In this case I want to sell the licence.

              If not, it's just a glorified renting system.
              • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:4, Informative)

                by eclectic4 (665330) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:52PM (#13723234)
                Burn the CD, then it's yours forever, just as if you bought it from the store. RIP them from that burned CD, and the DRM is stripped. How is this escaping people's thoughts still?
            • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by clontzman (325677)
              It's really simple: subscriptions are great if you like to try out a lot of new music. If there's something you find that you really like, you can either buy it burnable on Yahoo for $8 or buy a used copy on Amazon for $4. The great thing about Yahoo is that if someone recommends an artist or CD to you, you can listen to it in its entirety without having to wrangle with 30 second snippets or borrowing their copy.

              I wouldn't say that Yahoo is a replacement for buying music -- you'll probably still buy the thi
            • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by soft_guy (534437)
              Right. For people just starting a music collection, perhaps subscription is better, but I have a large collection and as I get older, I find that I buy less and less new music. So, I think subscription would be a very bad model for me.
            • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by NanoGator (522640)
              "I can't wrap my mind around the subscription concept. I have a ton of music allready, and add maybe an album a month. I just can't see paying for the same music over and over again for the rest of my life. $4.99 a month sounds good, but for how long?"

              I can tell you why I prefer a subscription service over 'owning' the music.

              - When I hear about a new song I may like, 10-15 seconds later I'm listening to the whole song. As a result, my collection's always growing.

              - I have 3 different computers I use nearly
    • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jest3r (458429) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:52AM (#13721222)
      I have an iPod and use http://www.allofmp3.com/ [allofmp3.com] ... much cheaper than any of the music stores reviewed in this article. 10 cents a track, no subscription, choice between many codecs.
      • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pennywisdom2099 (896069) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:06AM (#13721332)
        To be fair, you're really just pirating music and paying for the bandwidth costs. I download from www.allofmp3.com and from www.mp3search.ru for individual songs and for full albums, but I don't kid myself and try to believe that I'm supporting the artists or the, *ahem*, poor recording companies by doing so. The RIAA probably can't shut them down right now since in Soviet Russia mp3 site shuts down you. If they ever do, however, and seize their records, all of us are in big trouble since they have our credit card numbers. Might as well stick to the free methods if you can help it.
        • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:5, Informative)

          by JayAndSilentBob (517888) <.bass. .at. .sellingmysoul.com.> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:13AM (#13721389) Homepage
          According to this article http://www.museekster.com/allofmp3faq.htm [museekster.com] AllOfMP3 is operating legallly in Russia. Near the bottom of the page, it says Moscow police investigated them, and prosecutirs found nothing wrong.
          • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

            Oh I never said that it was illegal in Russia. In fact that's exactly why it's still operating right now. But if you look at a quote in the article (and you're good at decyphering Engrish), it gives you the clue to the RIAA's possible next plan:

            I can confirm the legality of allofmp3.com You can legally buy/download mp3-songs from this site if it does not breaks the law the national legislation of the country in which you will be during that moment Sorry for my english.

            All it will take is the RIAA
            • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Ian Bicking (980)

              All it will take is the RIAA to make downloading mp3s of songs which the hold the copyrights for illegal...

              Yes, that would do it. Or all it would take is for the RIAA to make it illegal not to tithe 10% of all your income to them, and we could all be arrested. Luckily the RIAA doesn't make law, and the law as it currently stands doesn't seem to make downloading from allofmp3.com illegal.

              you are downloading music from an unauthorized distributor and the RIAA would be more than pleased to stop that in

          • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shark72 (702619)

            " According to this article http://www.museekster.com/allofmp3faq.htm [museekster.com] [museekster.com] AllOfMP3 is operating legallly in Russia. Near the bottom of the page, it says Moscow police investigated them, and prosecutirs found nothing wrong."

            So-called "Lolita" sites, which feature nude photos of minors and would be waaaaay over the line in the US and most countries, operate happily in Russia as well. They sell subscriptions to anybody with a credit card, but it's strictly caveat emptor -- if it's a no-no in

          • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Flamesplash (469287) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:00PM (#13722744) Homepage Journal
            It is ILLEGAL to use allofmp3.com from the United States, it is probably illegal from most other countries as well. As it is it's only specifically LEGAL in Russia, they just have a loop hole that allows them to put the burden of illegally using their site on the customer.

            Regaurdless of this. Think about it. You aren't helping anyone by using this service aside from the guys in russia. The artist will NEVER see ANY of the MONEY you give them.
            • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by node 3 (115640)
              It is ILLEGAL to use allofmp3.com from the United States

              Are you sure? On what grounds?

              Copyright is all about copying and giving out copies of things, not so much about receiving copies of things, and the law that applies is copyright law, not theft laws, because what's happening is not theft (regardless of what anyone would have you believe), but copyright laws.

              So, perhaps you can clarify which copyright law makes this illegal and how?

              For example, if I'm in an establishement that hasn't paid its ASCAP fees,
              • Re:Stuck, huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Flamesplash (469287)
                I had this discussion a while back and referenced a unofficial legal interpretation of the law, though I can't find it right now. I'll repost if I do.

                As it stands, the legality is questionable ( there is no official ruling ), which is probably a safe bet it is not legal, but I doubt anyone's going to come banging on your door, especially since the IP records are stored in Russia :) The gist though is that it's only legal in RUSSIA the website even says as much and it's up to you in your country to determ
    • by @madeus (24818) <slashdot_24818@mac.com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:07AM (#13721337)
      The most annoying thing I find is that it's not even true.

      iTunes of course is software that Apple provide that allows you to upload to your iPod (the sort of software you'd expect any MP3 player vendor to provide with their hardware), and there are 3rd party utilities - both commercial and free - that also offer this functionality.

      This is distinct from the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) which was added after iTunes and iPod's had already been available for some time, but is a feature of the software (for logical reasons, as it would be much less user friendly if it had a completely separate application window).

      You can of course use music from stores with the iPod. I buy from the iTMS, but I also buy MP3's from the outstanding Emusic [emusic.com] all the time (I like the service as you get plain MP3's so there is no messing about with keys or authorisation, and you can entire albums as single .zip archives and you can re-download stuff as much as you like if you have an active subscription, the only thing I don't like about it is the 'subscription' model rather than the more traditional pay-per-song model).

      The 'problem' is that the iTunes Music Store only supports iTunes, which only (officially) supports the iPod (though unoffically it's possible to use it with a number of devices using 3rd party plug-ins), NOT that the iPod is somehow 'locked in' to the iTMS, which it isn't.

      This is a premise that a 10 year old should be able to grasp, but is apparently way above the heads of Chris Nickson, the editors at Designtechnica, ScuttleMonkey and prostoalex.
      • The 'problem' is that the iTunes Music Store only supports iTunes, which only (officially) supports the iPod (though unoffically it's possible to use it with a number of devices using 3rd party plug-ins), NOT that the iPod is somehow 'locked in' to the iTMS, which it isn't.

        It's locked in to iTMS as far as DRMed music stores go. eMusic is great, and the way forward, but a lot of major labels just won't contribute material to non-DRMed stores. The article is talking about popular, chart music. In this res

        • by @madeus (24818) <slashdot_24818@mac.com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:29AM (#13722004)
          It's locked in to iTMS as far as DRMed music stores go. eMusic is great, and the way forward, but a lot of major labels just won't contribute material to non-DRMed stores. The article is talking about popular, chart music. In this respect, you are locked in to iTMS, because you are locked into Apple's proprietary DRM technology.

          I appreciate the point your trying to make, and it's not entirely invalid (and I'm not just trying to be perverse :-), but effectively all the vendors are using proprietary DRM technology - sometimes their own (in the case of Sony and Apple) and sometimes from 3rd parties (in the case of DRM's Windows Media content players). AFAIK none of them really open in any meaningful sense though, even Real's Harmony.

          It's correct to say that it does not support other vendors proprietary DRM technology - any more than they support the iTMS - it's still true to say that it plays music from other vendors though, it just depends on how the other vendors encode their music (which really, is up to them and the record companies).

          Given this and overwhelming dominance of the iTMS in online music sales, it seems absurd for the author to claim the iPods are 'locked in' and assert the other players are 'open', when the other players are just as locked, but to different systems (and a smaller share of the market to boot).

          This is not an attempt at a fanboy post defending the iTMS - I'd prefer non DRM'd music too (even though the iTMS lets you burn unencumbered to audio CD, which is at least something - I just think the assertion made in the article is false and that its the music stores and their proprietary non-interoperable formats that are the problem, not the players, which by and large handle common formats (would be nice to see more Ogg Vorbis support though).

  • by thebdj (768618) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:10AM (#13720992) Journal
    But the real trick up Harmony's sleeve is its digital rights management (DRM) technology, which allows it to support virtually every kind of mp3 player - including the iPod

    Of course I still believe in the ripping CDs myself method. If I want music I still want my little piece of plastic, especially since entire albums still cost about the same.
    • Of course I still believe in the ripping CDs myself method.

      Which means breaking the law if you buy DRM'd music (unless your one of those lucky sods who gets to live in a country without the DMC-fucking-A). I don't know if that little bit of plastic is worth that much.
    • Of course I still believe in the ripping CDs myself method.

      That's what's so great about iTunes, though. Put the CD in the drive and drag it to the Library folder. Instant rip and addition to your library as MP3s. :-)
    • But the real trick up Harmony's sleeve is its digital rights management (DRM) technology, which allows it to support virtually every kind of mp3 player - including the iPod

      Apple's lawyers are attempting to stop this, which seems anti-competitive to me, but I suppose the DMCA isn't really designed to aid competition, innovation, or the rights of anyone but big business, so they might well be successful. So it's a risky option, in theory.

  • iTunes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysqlrocks (783488)
    Basically, if you download a track from iTunes, it will only play on a computer in iTunes (and on an iPod), not on mp3 or Windows Media

    iTunes is free so that doesn't really bother me much. I can just download my music and start playing it on my computer. I don't own an MP3 player, but if I were going to buy one it would be an iPod. That's not because I'd have to buy an iPod to play my music, it's because I think the iPod is the best MP3 (I know not technical MP3) player out there. Just my opinion.
  • by TomHandy (578620) <`tomhandy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:11AM (#13720999)
    Give me a break..... as an iPod owner, I don't feel "stuck" with the iTunes Music Store. It makes it sound like the iTMS is a piece of junk that we're "stuck" with. Personally I love the user experience of the iTMS and love all of the little nice touches.
    • I loved iTunes too until my disk drive stopped working and I had to buy a new one.

      I thought, well, I'll just download iTunes again, log in as me, and it'll start re-downloading the $1,500.00 worth of digital songs I bought from Apple.

      Well, I was wrong, and haven't "bought" a song online since.
      • by Mononoke (88668)
        I thought, well, I'll just download iTunes again, log in as me, and it'll start re-downloading the $1,500.00 worth of digital songs I bought from Apple.
        What about all the pr0n you bought? Have you bought any more since?

        (It's just DATA, folks. Back it up.)

      • by BWJones (18351) *
        Oh, come on! How many times must it be told that you always need to backup your data? There is even a notice when you install or purchase songs from the iTMS to make sure you back up your data. Apple also helps to encourage backups by allowing you to play all iTMS songs on up to five computers. I personally have my 150GB music database duplicated on my workstation at the lab as well as in two places at home for convenience and...just in case.

    • by sg3000 (87992) * <.moc.cam. .ta. .cilbup_gs.> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:20AM (#13721047)
      I was thinking the same thing.

      Those iPod owners are "stuck" with iTunes? The iPod has only 90% of the MP3 player market. And iTunes is the market leader for music downloads and it has the largest catalog. In fact, Apple reported to its investors that ITMS has the second most signed-up accounts (10 million), behind Amazon. In other words, Apple has built the only successful music "ecosystem" in the industry with iPod+iTunes+ITMS. So "stuck" seems to be an odd choice of words.

      The "lowdown" is also misleading. Under iTunes, they put $0.99/song, but not $9.99 for most albums. But for some reason, they put the album purchase information under Napster.

      Not a very useful article.
    • OTOH, if you use ITMS, you can use virtually any player, once you make your fair use backup. On a related note, there are a few services that are not DRM constrainted.

      Besides a small savings at walmart, which you pay for with reduced rights, and Yahoo subscriptins, I do not see ITMS any better or worse than anything else.

    • I said something similar in a slashdot post back in 1976.

      "As a betamax owner, I don't feel "stuck" with Betamax. I find my Sony player is considerably better than any of the recently released VHS players and Beta is currently considerably more popular"
  • Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by kukickface (675936) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:13AM (#13721011)
    A mass suicide of iPod owners has been reported on the eve that they discovered they were "stuck" with iTunes.
  • I call bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:13AM (#13721013)
    "If you're an iPod owner... then you're stuck with iTunes."

    That's bullshit. I have an iPod, and only a tiny fraction of my music has come from iTunes. I would think by now that everyone would be aware that the iPod is very capable of playing mp3s, regardless of where you got them from.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:15AM (#13721030)
    The review contradicts itself and contains factual errors.

    eMusic allows MP3 downloads but iPod owners have to use iTunes?
    No. You can use eMusic downloads on your iPod too.

    iTunes downloads with fairplay are only playable in iTunes and on iPods?
    No. iTunes downloads with fairplay are playable in any application that supports QuickTime. There's a very simple api for extracting the decompressed audio data from those files. The user must authenticate with the music store before the files can be decrypted, but that's it.
    • More importantly, they proclaim that Apple's DRM is proprietary and you'll be stuck with what you can play it on. They don't say this about the others, but I'll bet you're limited on playing those back as well. It wouldn't be DRM if you could do anything you wanted with it and it wouldn't be available if it didn't have DRM, so their isn't much difference in that category.
  • except this is one proprietry format against another. When buying a portable music player you have to consider which service you prefer. If you get your music from iTunes, you are forced to only ever use an iPod, even if something much much better comes along.

    Don't ypou love vendor lock-in.
  • by laurensv (601085) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:18AM (#13721041) Homepage
    " For your mp3 player, there are several options, with Yahoo the best of all. If you're an iPod owner....then you're stuck with iTunes"
    Because we all know that the iPod isn't a mp3player, don't we?
    The iTunes (program) - iTunes Music Store (the store) confusion should be a clue to the cluelessness the review has.
  • Emusic and allofmp3 (Score:4, Informative)

    by p0ppe (246551) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:19AM (#13721045) Homepage
    Been fairly pleased with Emusic. High-bitrate mp3s for 0,25USD. Yes it's a monthly subscription and they don't have mainstream crap, but other than that they're great. Did I say that they offer mp3s? And then there's allofmp3. 0,02USD/1Mb. Using a loophole in russian copyright legislation. Been operating for years.
    • allofmp3??? you must be kidding of course. Who in his right mind (except in Russia) would buy from a website that doesn't give you any legitimacy in the country you live in? If the stuff I download is not legal in my country, I prefer not to pay for it.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:47AM (#13721191)
        If you are talking about the U.S., importation of an allofmp3 download, or any other recording sold under IPR laws different form our own, for personal use is explicitly not illegal.

        There is extensive documentation of the legitimacy, legality, and safety of e-commerce transactions with allofmp3.com. Russia is a signatory of the Berne Convention, and alloofmp3.com pays the required fees to the licensing authority in Russia.

        Why are you so ready to accept the RIAA's definition of "legitimacy?" Do you have any independent and supportable evaluation of allofmp3.com's legitimacy?
        • I think most people, when they buy music, want to support the artist who created the music. After-all, that's the point of the copyright laws the RIAA uses in the first place. Allofmp3.com doesn't send any of their earnings back to the artists who originally recorded the music. Whether it's legal or not isn't the issue, whether it shows support for the artists you like is.
  • by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:23AM (#13721065) Homepage
    If you're not an iPod owner, you're stuck without the ITMS.
  • The best music store (Score:5, Informative)

    by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:25AM (#13721077) Journal
    For long, the best music store for me has been AllOfMp3 [allofmp3.com]

    I can buy lossless formated music, ogg or even raw .WAV music, unencumbered by DRM, quite cheap and easly. (Oh and they have a damn lot of music).

    And also, there are a number of different ways to pay (in case you do not trust Russian stores):
    -Credit Card
    -Pay Pal
    -Xrost
    -Bank Transfer
    -WebMoney

    Cool uh?
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:27AM (#13721084)
    f you're an iPod owner... then you're stuck with iTunes.'"

    Right, because I'm such a moron that I can't figure out how to get an mp3 onto my iPod.

    • f you're an iPod owner... then you're stuck with iTunes.'"

      Right, because I'm such a moron that I can't figure out how to get an mp3 onto my iPod.


      I'm an ipod shuffle owner. One of the things that drove me nuts is the shuffle required you to use the itunes software to move the MP3 files onto the player. Even though I could mount it as a USB thumb drive, no joy for just moving my files onto the player and having it work. Loads of fun since my primary workstation is Linux and there was no itunes software. (
  • Not quite, mate... (Score:4, Informative)

    by haelduksf (812679) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:27AM (#13721085)
    eMusic does NOT require you to download their "music manager" (At least it didn't 2 weeks ago), though it is necessary if you want to download an album at a time instead of track by track. Another thing the reviewer didn't mention is that members get one free track every day for downloading their IE toolbar, and that it's the only service of the bunch that has no DRM whatsoever. As you might imagine, I'm a satisfied customer.
  • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:28AM (#13721086)
    For your MP3 player, there are several options, with Yahoo the best of all. If you're an iPod owner... then you're stuck with iTunes.'

    They are all MP3 players. Some also play AAC or protected AAC. Some also play WMA or protected WMA.
    They also all play WAV, most play AIFF. Note these formats span the entire player industry - there is no 'lock out' other than what the labels create for themselves.

    It is not a given that this idea (selling unprotected music) is totally outlandish.

    Keep this in mind next time you see the labels gnashing and wailing about vendor lock-in.

  • Music Services (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Silwenae (514138) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:30AM (#13721102) Homepage
    The article was good, from 10,000 feet, but I thought it missed a few points.

    Musicmatch is owned by Yahoo - why is it different? (Yahoo Music engine is a 3 meg download for Windows - a tiny player with pretty good functionality, especially compared to Napsters memory hogging skinned Windows Media Player).

    With the Windows Plays for Sure stuff (Yahoo, Napster to Go) it only transfers to a Plays for Sure portable. While the article briefly touches that mentioning it's only a handful of players now, they should have specifically called "Doesn't work with iPods!" As someone already noted in the comments, iPod has 80-90% share of the portable MP3 market.

    And last but not least, licenses. With the exception of Yahoo (I believe), if your hard drive crashes you lose your license for tracks you've purchased for 99 cents each. Gone, poof. Like losing a CD. You'd think that buying a song online, they'd have a record of your purchase and let you re-download, but no.

    I've used most of the services, except iTunes on a Mac, and if Yahoo puts some marketing muscle behind YME they have a shot at 2nd place and displacing Napster. They offer the same functionality for less than half what Napster and Rhapsody try.

    As a Linux only user, I'm contiually frustrated by my lack of music buying options online. I suppose I should try out SharpMusique as an iTunes interface one of these days.
    • As a Linux only user, I'm contiually frustrated by my lack of music buying options online.

      Just see my other post above, a nice option is allofmp3 [allofmp3.com]

      You are welcome.

      P.s. no... I deffinitley do not work there =oP
  • The iPod plays standard MP3s as well as other formats. That's all I've ever loaded onto mine. Is buying a CD at Amazon and ripping it not considered "buying music online?" Is instant gratification required?

    I've never even been to iTunes. In what way am I "stuck" with iTunes?
  • Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tktk (540564) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:36AM (#13721136)
    Apple's iTunes is one of the best and also the most frustrating services.

    I don't understand the frustrating part. The author tries to make an issue of having to convert iTunes songs into mp3 or WMA. But why would you want to? iTunes also plays songs bought from the iTunes Music store.

    The only possible reason to do the unweildy conversion is to get rid of DRM. But the author is willing to accept DRM from other stores and, IMO, worse conditions:

    Napster You don't own the music, however, and if you cancel your subscription, all the tracks you've downloaded disappear.

    Looks like once you start with Napster, you're also stuck with Napster.

    Yahoo However, as with other subscription services, you only have access to the music as long as you maintain your subscription.

    Same with Yahoo.

    ...(full disclosure: I write reviews for eMusic)....

    Maybe the full disclosure should be placed at the beginning of the article?

  • by Sarin (112173) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:38AM (#13721143) Homepage Journal
    I really like to buy music online, especially in the iTMS.
    But none of the legal online music shops sell their tracks in a lossless format!
    As long as they don't do that I don't see buying tracks online as an option.
  • Piratebay (Score:5, Funny)

    by RasendeRutje (829555) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:41AM (#13721159)
    Where's thepiratebay.org in the comparison? They have the biggest selection, DRM free, for the lowest price! (free, as in free beer)
  • by gordguide (307383) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:47AM (#13721195)
    [From beginning of article]
    " ...
    Online music has come a long way ... since Apple turned the iPod into a necessary fashion accessory ... To be fair, Apple did a superb job with the iPod and iTunes by making it easy for people. And, by making the software proprietary, they made it a lot harder for the competition; what you downloaded from iTunes wouldn't play elsewhere. ..."

    Read carefully, you see either a predetermined bias (fine, it's in everything we read and the wise know how to look for it) or misunderstanding of the topic (not fine; he's offering advice here).

    iTunes is a software product that runs on Windows and Macintosh computers. You can't download music "from iTunes". What he means is downloaded from the iTunes Music Store with the iTunes application on your PC and I would be fine with that if he just said that once, at the beginning of the article, but he doesn't. Most people are more careful to differentiate between the iTMS and iTunes itself.

    " ... If you're an iPod owner....then you're stuck with iTunes. ..."

    You know, he writes in such a nice, matter-of-fact style that even after reading the entire article, I'm not sure whether it's bias or ignorance we're reading. But, for the record, the iPod will play pretty much any music format except ogg vorbis and WMA audio, you can get music files from any source, including some of those listed in the article, and iTunes-the-software will happily import and play other formats on your computer or upload them to your iPod, whereupon you can happily enjoy them just like any other mp3 player.
  • Magnatune.com? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uncledrax (112438) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:53AM (#13721233) Homepage
    One place I used recently has been Magnatune.com.. they are teh good..
    (price per album $3 -> ?? (you decided).. .5 to the artist, .5 to Magnatune)..

    thier downside if they don't have the huge selection you'd expect of alot of places.. but IMO if you check out thier licensing scheme and the formats you can D/L (VBR MP3, VorbisOgg, FLAC, raw WAV, and AAC) it outweighs that.

    • Re:Magnatune.com? (Score:3, Informative)

      by zborgerd (871324)
      I'm a big fan of Magnatune. There is some excellent music on their site. All of the 128k MP3s are available under a Creative Commons license. They have FLAC/OGG/AAC/WAV/VBR MP3s available for those who pay for the CDs. You can license all of music at very reasonable prices for commercial use. They even *encourage* you to share your downloaded CDs with friends. You can choose how much you want to pay for all of the music, but since 50% of the money goes directly to the artist; it makes it more worthwhi
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:53AM (#13721234)
    Probably for the worse, however I still enjoy it.

    I have long since been a subscriber of Yahoo's Launchcast -- their internet radio station that could play music based on your ratings. And as a work day went on, I would tag songs 1, 2, 3 or 4 stars, or even "Never Play Again". Yahoo would learn my tastes and has since then, recommended countless songs that I'd never have heard before. Bands like Nightwish, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil are bands I heard of before many, many people.

    Now with the advent of the Yahoo Music Store, the same great benefits exist except that I can put them into my MP3 player and take it all to go. I admit freely however, that I convert all my music OUT of the .WMV format using Tunebite [tunebite.com] and back into MP3 so the music is *mine*. Yahoo's Music Store ALSO recommends music to me based on the same ratings I've made over the last three years, and I see the technology of recommending songs getting better and better as my choices are getting more broad, and now with the Music store, even easier to acquire. Before the YMS, I would listen to a song on Launchcast and then scour the P2P networks or the web to find the song to add to my collection. Many times, and I'd say more often than not, I would go out and buy the CD.

    Now I'm paying a low monthly fee ($4.99 prepaid one year in advance) to get my grubbies on all the music I can handle. And probably, there are people that take advantage of the $5 price a LOT more than I do. But as a casual music listener, who is always looking to find new types of music that might pique my interest, Yahoo's Music Store has nailed my needs on the head solidly, and I'm glad to pay for that benefit. If you don't want to pay $5 a month to get unlimited downloads, then the RIAA has a good reason to go after you; however given their greed they want to come after me as well.

    Oh well... at least if they bust down my door I can prove I'm legit :)
  • by Disco Hips (920480) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:59AM (#13721283)
    Nice article, but it seemed to be stacked in favour of the larger players, iTunes, MSN and eMusic. If the world of online music was governed by five or so players it would be a dire world! Oh wait...it's dominated by the big four record companies...forgot about them! ;)

    Currently, I'm using http://www.karmadownload.com/ [karmadownload.com] as it seems the most geek friendly (and legit) site going at the moment. High quality MP3, no DRM, plus they support the independent artists. The only bummer is the Flash they use. Oh well, can't win them all.
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:47AM (#13722172)

    I've been using the full Yahoo music service for a couple of months now, and so far I love it. It has changed the way that I listen to music.

    Disclaimer: I don't work for Yahoo, and I don't use other Yahoo services (I'm a googlite). I do know someone who works for Yahoo, but I don't believe that has influenced my opinion of this service.

    I can't compare the Yahoo service to the other services (because I haven't tried them) other than to note that it appears to be a fair bit cheaper. I wouldn't be surprised if they had to raise the price at some point.

    The selection seems very good to me, but I have noticed that often they will have an album minus one or two songs.

    The sound quality is very good: 192, rather than 128.

    The client software was very buggy initially but is much better now. I'm running it on a Win2K notebook with a PII 366 CPU. It's not fast but it is acceptable.

    But most of all, I like this subscription model. It's really great having access to everything. This way I do a lot of trying out new music and following up on suggestions. As soon as I joined I looked around and gathered some albums that I hadn't heard in years. I'm listening to more music now and I'm discovering lots of new stuff. It's a great feeling of musical freedom to have everything available at your fingertips.

    The problem is that now I'm hooked. If I wanted to quit I would have to look at all the music I've collected, decide which songs I liked the best, and purchase them for $0.80 a song. On the other hand, I could just keep subscribing and still pay much less than I would if I wanted to buy even a few of these albums I've now collected.

    My biggest complaint is that they manage your music data the same way that most other big music apps do. I heard someone say that iTunes stores everything in your folder structure in the tags and xml files. That sounds like a much better way to do it. I wouldn't use the iPod/iTunes because of the price and lock-in, but kudos to them for using such an open and sensible system.

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