It's pretty sweet--finally someone got around to doing what I've always wanted--letting me pick the songs instead of having to buy a whole CD. However, I don't even really listen to music all that much anymore.
It's a nice implementation of the obvious concept that we've been waiting for.
Typical of Apple, it's well integrated into the MacOS structure. The combination of iTunes, the Music Store, and an iPod is great.
They have a pretty large music selection, and all songs have a 30 second preview. Previewing and buying songs is very fast over a DSL connection.
My only complaints so far:
- Gaps in the music library. I was interested in buying a few albums, but they were all missing one or two songs. So, rather than paying the album price of $9.99, I would have to buy each song individually - for more than $10, for an incomplete album.
- No small label / independant artists. The current music library is the same stuff you find at Tower/Best Buy/Walmart/etc. I really want an alternative to the current Corporate record labels / Corporate radio junk. An online service can easily support small artists, and become a bridge to a better, more creative music industry. I wonder if Apple had to agree to exclusivity with the major labels to get them to offer their music.
Yeah but then, some intro and 'filler' tracks which are sometimes less than 30 seconds long are 99 cents too. Not that they are important in the whole scheme of things, but the artist put them in for a reason, right?
It's a good start. We can hope that the price comes down (god, if it was 25cents a song, I would get so addicted), and they're going to release it for Windows "by the end of the year" (iTunes for Windows... thank god....) but from what I've been reading, it's definetly the best system out there.
As far as ratings go, if you going to give the Master copies a 10, let's give the audio CD's they sell an 8.5 to a 9. And if I'm not mistaken (I could be) they're probably encoding the 128kbps AAC from the original master. Higher quality source material might mean that the 128kbps AAC file would sound great. Maybe they'll increase the bitrate or use a variable bit rate encoding to increase quality and mantain the smaller files sizes, but nobody really seems to have a problem with the audio quality at the moment (DVD-Audio loving audiophiles not withstanding).
That being said, if digital music has a chance of working as a profitable medium, this looks like an excellent step in the right direction.
Yes, buying individual songs is one of the great features of this service.. I can buy songs individually. So, I can buy that one good song on Beck's album that he rushed out to capitalize on the popularity of O-Delay.
But, there have been several other instances where there were enough good songs that I wanted to buy the whole album, but could not.. Beck's O-Delay, for example. You must buy all 15 songs individually.
Also, due to the homogenization of popular radio, I have had a difficult time finding new artists/genre's I am interested in. So, when I'm looking into a new artist, I'm not really sure which of the songs on an album I will like. So, I want to pick up a complete Michael Hedges album, and listen to it as a complete work. Unfortunately, most of the Michael Hedges albums on the Apple service only contain a few songs.
Apple should buy mp3.com, and add their library of small-time artists (while updating their compensation system, to really incent more creativity). I've been getting into acoustic guitar music lately, and there are quite a few talented guys, making good music in their spare time, such as: Robert Eldridge and Roger Singleton
First they complained about the price of CDs even though it costs almost nothing to produce them. They say it's price fixing at its worst. Not to mention that usually there's only 1 or 2 good songs within a CD.
Now, there's this service that allows you to buy each song individually, for relatively good price too - and they STILL complain. One person wanted half the price, the other wanted quarter of the price.
If a song is sold for 1 cent, someone will still complain that it's not free! I understand that money doesn't grow on trees - but seeing people complain about this saddens me.
I don't know if they're going to port iTunes to windows. From what I gather they're talking about the music store for windows. This may, or may not, mean a full port of iTunes. As an iPod owner w/o a mac, I'd love to see iTunes on Windows, but I'm not holding my breath. For that matter, I'd love to see OS/X on x86, but it just doesn't seem likely.
Alric, have you heard the AAC? from what I've heard (at mossberg's column in the wall street journal, no less), there's really no discernible difference.
Thorne, anything can be converted to anything else, if you use speakers and a mic, or if you can intercept the audio signal and transform it into wav (ie, capture the signal as it's going out to the speakers). Then you can recompress it, losing more quality. That's the fundamental problem with heavily encrypting and protecting music and movies-- at some point, someone has to watch it.
To me it sounds great. In fact, comparing EAC/LAME -alt preset standard MP3s to AACs from the Apple store I am liking the AACs more and more. The MP3s I realize now sound harsher. The AAC sound more like analog sound.
I use my iPod in my VW golf through an aux input and I like the sound of the AACs better. Of course at home I listen to Monkey's audio uncompressed and that's even better.
Wow, Windows iTunes.. that'll be GREAT! If/when that happens, I might just rip everything to AAC instead of MP3. Since my ipod can play it (which I use in the car similar to Alric) I don't really need anything else.
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