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Review of iTunes Music Store

pudge posted more than 10 years ago | from the music-over-my-head dept.

Music 757

Daniel_Staal writes "Apple's recent release of their music download service created quite a discussions here on /., with a lot of opinion and speculation. In light of this I thought I'd poke around, kick the tires, and see how it actually works." Staal's review follows. The Wall Street Journal also has a review.Daniel_Staal continues:

First, the disclaimer: I'm an Apple supporter, having used them as my desktop system since my parents got a IIe back when they were new. I run several Unix servers, but my desktop of choice has always been Apple. Also, while I like listening to music, I'm no audiophile, and can't usually tell the difference between a 192kbps MP3 and the CD it is encoded from. My best speakers are on my computer, and they are Monsoon flat panel 3-piece set.

Ok, on to the review. iTunes Music Store requires the new version of iTunes of course, for which Apple has updated the brushed metal interface again (Apple, why do you come up with this great Aqua interface and then never use it?). My first stop on any new program is always the preferences, and Apple's added some new options for this version: "Sharing" and "Store." I don't have any other computers worth streaming music too, so that's off, and I turn off the one-click shopping. I like having a shopping cart.

The store itself is presented as a special playlist in iTunes, just click and it connects. It presumes a fairly wide iTunes window, wider than I usually use, but the stuff I wanted was all on the left side so I'm fine. The default store layout is obviously Amazon-inspired: new additions, up and coming, editor's picks, and most popular all being highlighted. Genre is a pull-down menu on the top left: all the picks change and the background color. Click on an album to view it in a two-pane view: info above and songs below. There are easy links back at any point, or up the hierarchy. Double click on a song to hear the preview (not just the first 30 seconds, they seem to actually choose them).

That's the basics. There are two levels of search: the search box in iTunes and a Power Search available from inside the store. The Power Search lets you search by song, artist, album, genre, and composer. Users of Limewire will find it familiar. Clicking Browse puts up three panes across the top: genre, artist, album. Once an album is selected the songs are available below.

On to the interesting stuff: actually buying songs. I select a song I've got a poor p2p copy of and click buy, and it asks me to sign in with my Apple ID, or create one if I don't have one. This is where I have my first problem. I have an Apple ID, but entering it puts up a message saying I've never used it with iTunes Music Store before (well, duh) and asks me to review the terms and conditions. Then it directs me to the account creation screen, with my info already filled in.

Of course, the account creation screen won't let you create a duplicate account, and asks me to log in. Can we say endless loop? How about bug that should be fixed?

I create a new email address, and make a new account. No problem. Log in, select the song and a couple others. Click "Buy Song," enter credit card info (which is then saved into the account, on Apple's server) and the songs download quickly. I had one more blip: one song had trouble downloading (I assume server load) and was told to try again later, with a menu option. It worked several hours later.

The selection is broad, but not yet very deep. Many albums I found are in partial status, with only one or two songs. Several artists I was looking for were not listed at all. Considering this is just roll-out that isn't a major issue (they weren't big artists, at least not in the U.S.). Everyone should be able to find at least some of their picks available.

Also, some albums are listed as "Explicit" or "Clean." Notice I said "albums": if one song in an album has a label they all seem to, though I didn't do an exhaustive search. Since this is structured as song-centric, I feel they should have labeled on a song-by-song basis.

Enough with the marketing stuff, this is /. The files, as was mentioned in the announcement, are in AAC format. Let's see what we can do with that, shall we?

First options: inside iTunes. iTunes can convert one format to another normally, trying it on a 'protected' AAC file returns an error. Also, trying to burn an MP3 CD with one on the playlist just skips burning the AAC files (or returns an error if they are the only files.) Fair enough, we didn't really expect the capability to circumvent all controls to be built in... (Though you can of course burn regular CDs.)

Next, let's see what can be done with the file itself. They are saved, just like any other iTunes music file, in the iTunes music folder. The icon has a little lock on it, to indicate its 'protected' status. A few clicks later and the file is owned by guest:nobody chmod 777 and in a world readable folder. (Assigned to guest.)

So much for one definition of protection. [Ed: I renamed the file to .m4a (not protected) and set the permissions to the same as my other tracks, and iTunes would still not let me convert it to MP3.]

I can also play that file as another user on the same machine. I would try other machines, but I only have the one Mac at the moment.

The only other Mac player I can find that claims to play AAC is only for Mac OS v9, and does not appear to recognize the bought file, so no help there. I do however have an app that hijacks the audio stream before the speakers and allows you to play with equalizers, balance, etc. Oh, and it lets you save the result as an MP3 as well as playing it through the speakers.

I fire it up and a few minutes later I have an MP3 that I can't tell from the AAC. So much for that definition of protection.

Is this service for everyone? Probably not if you are a hard-core audiophile and can tell the difference between a 128kbps ACC and the original, but for most of us: it works. I can do what I want with the file, even get it to MP3 if I need it, though it is hard enough that I have to actually think about doing it (which means I won't do it unless I need to). I'd love it if it were cheaper, but I probably would not buy twice as many songs at half the price. Finding songs is easy, buying them is easy. (For reference: $0.99 per song does not include taxes, taxes will be listed in the invoice you are emailed.)

I'll probably spend too much money there.

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POO (-1, Troll)

reelbk (213809) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844788)

poo

If only I could afford a mac... (-1, Redundant)

invader_allan (583758) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844795)

Macs are awesome, but they cost so much more than a PC I have to stick it out for now

Re:If only I could afford a mac... (2, Informative)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844860)

well, if you were to buy a mid range PC and not a sub 1k PC you would be able to affird a mac.

hey the EMac is $1000 and comes with a combo drive and 17 in monitor.

and laptops from apple are so much better than the PC counterparts. makes me sad that I listened to my wife and did not buy the powerook when I bought my laptop...she wanted a PC :-p lets just say I have had nothing but problems and am glad that I bought the extended service plan for it.

Re:If only I could afford a mac... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844903)

With all the money you save by pirating music, you could buy a mac! But, you wouldn't need iTunes then.

Re:If only I could afford a mac... (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844940)

Right, that's always been an argument.

There was a time when a 486 cost $3k, but today Macs, taking into account deflation, cost less than half that.

If you *wanted* a Mac, you can afford it. If you can't afford it, it isn't really the price that's stopping you.

Of course there are exceptions, but on the general, a Mac today is so affordable that to use the price of a Mac over that of a PC is hardly a hefty argument. A better argument would be, "But no one I know uses a Mac, so I'd have to figure out everything on my own," or "I've got $1,000 worth of software on my PC that I can't use on my Mac," or "All my games live on my PC, if I bought a Mac I can't play those games anymore," are all more valid reasons than "An iBook costs 15% more than a similar PC laptop," or "An iMac costs 20% more than a similar PC desktop."

Re:If only I could afford a mac... (1)

chasingporsches (659844) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845055)

another lemming helping to further the apple myths... for the love of god, people. can't you realize that 90% of your arguments against apple either (a) are totally incorect (b) show blatant disregard for current information or (c) are based on your bias against anything the majority of society doesn't like, because of others like you? myths spread like a virus. and, unfortunately, the truth isn't strong enough to break them apart. sorry, but comments like those REALLY make me furious... kinda like when you get pissed off about how fast food workers never get your order right. BTW, this guy had a very well written review of the iTunes Music Store. I tried it today, but couldn't connect. Maybe it was just my ISP...

Using a computer to buy music... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844819)

are you crazy? How long till someone writes a virus that hijacks iTunes and makes you purchase thousands of songs?

Re:Using a computer to buy music... (4, Funny)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844919)

Well... looking at the history of online purchasing... probably never

Re:Using a computer to buy music... (3, Interesting)

mattgarnsey (660568) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844974)

probably quite some time.

as quickly as you can, name 5 viruses for windows. now name 5 viruses for the mac. what was the time difference? did you even finish?

sure, it can be done, but it's toward the bottom on the list of my concerns with this new service.

Re:Using a computer to buy music... (5, Interesting)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844989)

> are you crazy? How long till someone writes a
> virus that hijacks iTunes and makes you purchase
> thousands of songs?

As long as it takes to write a virus that can hijack your root password and then your keychain password and that can execute on a BSD based kernel...

I.E. most likely never.

Re:Using a computer to buy music... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844994)

Forever.

Problems with service- Makes me feel dirty (5, Funny)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845025)

Well being that ive been buring cd's since 1X drives and was a beta tester for scour.net I thought I would never pay for an mp3. In fact I would say I have moral qualms about doing so. Well last night after installing itunes4 I figured that i might as well see what all the hubbub is about. What a wonderfull idea, there is no better place for a music store than in my music library. An hour, 15 song samples and two videos later I broke down, gave them my credit card and bought a Massive Attack track.

total cost 99cents plus my soul....

Re:Using a computer to buy music... (3, Insightful)

gspr (602968) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845040)

Buying stuff on the Internet? Are you crazy? What if some virus hijacks your browser and makes you purchase thousands of... things?

())==D (-1)

WeenisOnyatonsils (668270) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844823)

TrollK0re, I am calling you out! I bring my weenis to place onyatonsils. Show me what you got. Claim the clit fp!

Built by H-1B (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844829)

Only Indians are superior enough to make something like this. American programmers are too fat to write code like this good.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844869)

+5 Fat Americans are disgusting

Re:Built by H-1B (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844930)

American programmers are too fat to write code like this good.

Apparently, trolls can't communicate "good".

I love it. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844834)

I've spent more money on music in the last two days then I have in the last two months thanks to the Apple Music Store.

Americans! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844835)

Are you all so blind that you can't see what your government is doing? You're about to default on the national debt [washingtonpost.com] in mid-May, and your president's only response is to cut income tax!

And yet you sit here and discuss Apple Music. For God's sake, GET SOME PRIORITIES!!!

Same price, fewer costs (5, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844837)

The songs are about what you would pay in a store for a CD, actually probably more on average. Now subtract the pressing, shipping, stocking, labor, etc costs which normally are taken out of the price at retail, and you have record companies making a mint if this in fact takes off.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (3, Interesting)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844864)

Plus they get their 'media tax' if you put these songs to CD...

No, they do not (3, Informative)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845061)

Unless you live in canada, or buy special 'music' CDs rather then regular Data CDs, you do not get taxed.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (2, Interesting)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844891)

Which, if the artists hurry their asses up, will mean a fortune for the artists. You can't really compare this on a "cost per song" basis. Compare it to the price of CD singles which I've noticed are between $8-$10 now. That's a big savings when most singles are maybe 3 songs.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (5, Informative)

Richard5mith (209559) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844907)

That isn't right. A lot of the albums are $9.99 each (even when they have more than 10 songs), and that's a pretty hard price to beat. Amazon averages out a few bucks more + tax + shipping.

But yes, the record companies, not having their distribution costs do stand to make a pretty penny.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844920)

No, I mean for CDs people actually want to own released this decade. The average cost is NOT $9.99.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (1)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844914)

bandwidth ain't free, you know.

Its cheaper than health insurance (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844955)

Bandwidth costs are nowhere near all of the costs for pressing, shipping, stocking a CD, and the benefits and costs for the employees doing it all.

In any case, Apple is shouldering the hosting costs, not the record company (unless Apple is passing this on, which I doubt).

Re:Same price, fewer costs (2, Insightful)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844921)

add bandwidth, server cost and personel to maintain the system and customer support and you have about the same in the way of back end costs...but I guess you can get all those for free huh.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (2, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844979)

Wrong. The hardware and support costs can be amortized on a huge scale. How many hosting centers is this? How many distribution centers are CDs shipped from? Do the math, its not even close. Record companies are going to make a killing on cost davings alone if this pans out.

Re:Same price, fewer costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844934)

You forget about the instant gratification of being able to download the song....

Definition of instant is dependent upon the speed of your connection to Apple's servers......

Re:Same price, fewer costs (0, Offtopic)

meme_police (645420) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844953)

It is expensive and so far the variety is crap. The biggest problem with the music industry these days is the crap being promoted by the major labels.

Dear Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844846)

I am a homosexual. I bought an Apple computer because of its well earned reputation for being "the" gay computer. Since I have become an Apple owner, I have been exposed to a whole new world of gay friends. It is really a pleasure to meet and compute with other homos such as myself. I plan on using my new Apple computer as a way to entice and recruit young schoolboys into the homosexual lifestyle; it would be so helpful if you could produce more software which would appeal to young boys. Thanks in advance.

with much gayness,

Father Randy "Pudge" O'Day, S.J.

Here's hoping... (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844852)

I hope this does well. I hope that this makes the RIAA pull their head out of their collective arse and learn how to actually listen to customer demand. I know it probably won't, but you have to be a bit optimistic.

...and a review for the windows client? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844858)

... beuller?

oh.

What the hell? (3, Insightful)

billnapier (33763) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844861)

This isn't a review, this is a story of one users problems and solutions. Reviews imply opinions on how easy it was to use, how quick it was, how easy it was to find.

Any /. reader have a real review of this? Maybe some opinions on what they did right and what they did wrong?

Mod Parent UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844906)

That review was bad bad bad.

High brow downloading. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844862)


Via Apple: I'd like to download these songs please, here is my credit card number..
Via Kazaa: g1bb0r m3 j00r l337 t00nz f0r fr33, d000000ddzzz!!!

please (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844863)

could some one review this [goatse.cx] web page i see on slashdot so often?

Question (1)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844871)

From their site [apple.com] :

The iTunes Music Store is fast and convenient for you, and fair to the artists and record companies. In a nutshell, you can play your music on up to three computers, enjoy unlimited synching with your iPods, burn unlimited CDs of individual songs, and burn unchanged playlists up to 10 times each.

What do they mean by an unchanged playlist?

Re:Question (4, Informative)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844945)

What do they mean by an unchanged playlist?

Apple added this restriction to make it difficult to use iTunes to produce hundreds (or more) copies of a single playlist. You can burn a playlist to CD up to 10 times.. after the 10th copy, you have to make a change to the list- add or remove a song or two before the software will allow you to burn another CD. I have not tried this, but that's the way Steve Jobs described in during his presentation. I do not know if simply removing a song from the list and adding it again constitutes change, but I bet there is someone somewhere who has tried it out.

Re:Question (3, Informative)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844997)

this is steves sneeky way to get the record companies to think he is restricting the user.

just make a new playlist with the same damn songs because iTunes counts the exact playlist file not the AAC files or other playlists with the same set up.

Re:Question (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844959)

they mean that you can set up a play list in itunes and burn those songs in that order for 10 times.

you want to burn more make a new playlist (it can even have the same order just name it something else.)

Re:Question (1)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844977)

You can only burn a play list to 10 cds, after that you have to change the playlist if you want to keep burning those AAC's. Apple is trying to prevent people from burning a few hundred copies of a certain CD and selling them. That is there version of copy protection.

Re:Question (1)

Niles_Stonne (105949) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844984)

They mean that the playlist has the same songs on it.

This is simply to prevent you from creating more than ten copies of the same CD. Personally, I think this is a great compromise. Burn a CD for home, a CD for work, and a CD for the car, and you can still burn the same CD 7 more times just in case the origionals get damaged.

Of course you can just copy the CD, but hey, these are things to keep the honest people honest in the first place anyway.

Re:Question (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845000)

What do they mean by an unchanged playlist?

It means exactly that.

When you go to burn a cd, you make up a list of songs to go on the CD. That's called a "playlist". What they're saying is that you can burn *that particular playlist* to a cd ten times without having to change it. Change the playlists all you want, burn all the *different* cd's you want, just not the *same* cd ten times in a row.

Change it? Yeah, you know, remove a song from the list, add a song to the list. That sort of thing. The idea is to prevent you from burning off 1000 copies (or whatever) of the same playlist, which you quite obviously wouldn't use yourself.

"That's too restrictive! Fuck you apple!" Yeah right. That's pretty good of Apple if you ask me. I mean, who wants ten of the same damned cd of songs on the go at once? If you were really uptight, you'd just go do a disc copy on the first (audio) disc you made in the first place.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845052)

They mean some things have to be slightly different. So if you wanted to make a bunch of copies (>10), it would be a pain in the butt. You'd have to move stuff around and change it in some way.

agree- no depth but works well (4, Insightful)

pres (34668) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844874)

So I also set it up last night and gave it a shot. It was a easy setup for me (my apple ID worked fine) and finding and buying songs was a snap (7 songs very quickly before I stopped myself).
They clearly didn't have a huge content base yet but they did have a easy way to request songs, artists etc that they didn't have yet.
Definitely a big win for apple and consumer.

Did you get charged twice ? (5, Interesting)

feed_those_kitties (606289) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844875)

You said you had trouble downloading a song, but that it worked fine later.

Did you get charged twice for the song? Or is there some sort of mechanism that will only charge you for a successful download?

!Sig

Re:Did you get charged twice ? (5, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844926)

There is a menu option that checks for songs that you have bought but not downloaded. (It is mentioned in the error message.)

I was not charged twice.

Re:Did you get charged twice ? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844983)

I haven't bought anything yet, but there's an option under the "advanced" menu in iTunes that sez: "Check for Purchased Music" which when I select it comes up with a dialog asking for my apple ID and password, so it can look for music I've purchased but not downloaded yet. So apparantly you get charged, but they keep track if the download should not work.

would like to be able to make a mix r/o (1)

polished look 2 (662705) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844882)

Hi, I would like the record companies to make it so I can make a mix of tunes on CD or tape and give them to friends. Perhaps for my $0.99 for a single song, I would be able to use it 5 times in a mix.

I've said it once and I'll say it again... (-1, Insightful)

jrwillis (306262) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844884)

I'll pay $1 a song when it's a 320kbs MP3 with NO DRM or restrictions. Until then I'll either use Kazaa or just buy the CD.

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844966)

I'll pay $1 a song when it's a 320kbs MP3 with NO DRM or restrictions

Sure you will.... More likely you'll "use Kazaa" and always manufacture some reason why you are morally and righteous in stealing.

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845039)

It's not stealing or piracy. The first means I take something that you had, and no longer have. The second has something to do with ships on the high seas.

What it is, is unlicensed copying. There are no other names that fit the bill here.

Just like satellite signals, if you don't want me inspecting them, then don't beam them on my property.

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (5, Informative)

Apaturia (155233) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845020)

Dude, if you're not planning on sharing the music you buy with the whole world, the restrictions that they *do* put in will NEVER hinder you.

Do you burn a given playlist more than 10 times? Do you have more than three Macs you will use to listen to that music? You can put what you buy on an UNLIMITED number of iPods (ok, nobody has a ton of them, but still) and 128kbps AAC sounds better than an MP3 of the same bitrate. Not quite the 320kbps you "require" but still very good.

It's amazing how people always complain. People, it's not going to get better than this. Do you really think Apple could have struck a deal with the five record labels without some sort of DRM?

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (1, Redundant)

zsmooth (12005) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845024)

This service is obviously not for you then.

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845041)

Fuck that, they need to charge a more reasonable price, like $0.05 a song or $1 an album. AND make it 320kbps MP3, no DRM, and Steve Jobs better come over and fucking wash my dishes too!

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845044)

name the DRM that impeads you.

you can do what ever you want with these songs that any resonable person will do. and 320 kbps...are you frigen nuts why don't you just download a .wav

don't use a lossy format if you think 128 is crap, not to mention they have to have a sain file size for everyone becasue not everyone have t1 access you maniac.

you are just looking for a reason to justify your piracy.

Re:I've said it once and I'll say it again... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845050)

Oh yeah, 'cause we all know that Kazaa is just full of high-quality, properly labeled, 320kbs MP3's. Full the the brim. Yep. And anything you want is available.

Please.

I gave up on Kazaa and any other P2P music when I signed up for Emusic. It's a simular, but cheaper (and not as major-label heavy) service. Now that I get tons of properly-labeled, decent quality MP3's, with no DRM, flat monthly fee, and unlimited downloads I have no reason to ever p2p again; I'm willing to pay for trust and quality. But no one will probably read this, 'cause it's AC, and all the /. wankers that endlessly scream about wanting a cheap MP3 non-DRM soultion 'or we'll just use Kazaa' but ignore Emusic or Apple's new services (which fit very well with the dream of a decent online music service) are just full of crap. they don't wanna pay for music and just wanna whine whine whine.

Like Kazaa is such hot stuff. Please. Kazaa is crap for music!

ID Problem (5, Informative)

TJ6581 (182825) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844887)

I had the exact same ID problem and here is how I fixed it:

1) Goto http://www.apple.com

2) Go into the apple store

3) Signin using your userid

4) Add your credit card info to you apple ID

5) (optional?) I turned on 1-click shopping too, not sure if it mattered

6) Go back into iTunes and go through the registration process. You should be able to use your existing ID now.

I can definitely tell you that this worked for me but your milage may vary depending on the gremlins living in your house.

Hrm (4, Insightful)

blitzoid (618964) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844888)

Well, it didn't take that long to get past all the protection apple put in.

However, I still think apple has it right with this music service (Even if it is apple-only right now) - they've made it rather easy to mix-n-match the songs you want to make your own compilations. Still sucks that it takes a lot of extrs work to make an mp3 CD.

Then again, if you can fit 300+ mp3s on a CD, that's quite a bit of cash to spend downloading songs.

Re:Hrm (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844962)

As long as there's an analog output somewhere, any and all protection of audio is so trivial it's almost mentally challenged. So what if your CD doesn't rip right? Just hook the output of your stereo up to your computer and hit PLAY. Record it in Soundforge or something and compress it. Done. No, it's not as easy as just throwing it in the drive and letting CDex do the work, but where's the fun in that? ;)

I love the service (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844890)

if an album has more than 10 songs it costs 9.99 if it hase 10 songs you pay 9.90 and then less than that it is .99 x songs.

and the fact that you can burn a real audio cd that plays in cd players everywhere makes this so much better than other sevices.

I don't know if you can print up the cover art or the CD art for lable printing but if you can that would kick more ass.

Umm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844893)

If only I had a thought to go with the reply button following the story.

Anonymouse Cowheard
(((This sig in Stereo where available)))

Right idea, wrong price (1, Interesting)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844897)

While I applaud the concept of finally rolling out digital music on a large scale, the price is obscene. The 99-cents per song comes about to about the same price as a CD (if you buy all the songs).

With the CD, however, you've got the cost of the physical materials (the CD, liner, case), the cost of manufacture, the cost of shipping, and then the profit margin for whomever you're buying it from.

Re:Right idea, wrong price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844960)

Many of the albums can be bought for $9.99 (the most expensive one I've seen is $11.99).

Your logic is all wrong. This whole physical materials thing is dumb. With this your paying for the convenience of having your music in real time (without having to leave your mac).

The price is not the issue.

Re:Right idea, wrong price (2, Insightful)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845013)

That's the thing right there. IF you get the whole CD. This isn't for people that buy the whole CD, if you can't tell. You can pick and choose whatever individual songs you want. My playlist is a couple of hundred songs comprised of DOZENS of artists off of probably 50 albums. I'd much rather buy 200 individual tracks than 50 full albums.

Re:Right idea, wrong price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845029)

You're paying for their bandwidth and disk too. And a ten song album costs $9.99 if you buy it from the iTunes store. Chances are you'd pay double that if you buy it from Sam Goody or FYE or Tower Records.

Re:Right idea, wrong price (4, Informative)

zsmooth (12005) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845051)

Most albums in the store are $9.99 (cheaper than buying a CD in a store). However, consider that most albums only have like 3 songs worth listening too, which you can buy for $2.97. Do you see the savings now?

Any word on... (0)

Kligson (513507) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844905)

... how AAC compression works? What would be involved in writing a filter to convert from AAC to MP3?

error 01: user error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844911)

This guy seems to be more of the inept variety. Perhaps this review is suitable for some random forums, but the front page of slashdot...? I can't quite put my finger on it, but it seems the guy would struggle with basic daily functions.

Anyway, iTunes Music Store is inaccessible by me as i'm in the UK so the poor review is all academic anyway.

I I I , me me me - so egotistical (-1, Offtopic)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844912)

If iTunes are for iMacs, are cartoons for cars?

har har har whew har

My problem with signing up. (1, Informative)

jspectre (102549) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844913)

Tried to sign up for the service, it asked for the "security number" at the end of my credit card number. Everything was correct but it kept telling me that the security number was invalid (it's hard to mistype 3 digits... come on).

I gave up and from the reviews I won't bother again. I also can't say I feel very safe with Apple keeping my credit card numbers in their servers indefinately.

Does anyone happen to know if the transaction is even encrypted? What's to stop someone from snooping my account and ordering themself a ton of songs under my name?

I think I'll get my music the old fashioned way, go buy a CD in a store.

Re:My problem with signing up. (1, Troll)

Zach Garner (74342) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844999)

Does anyone happen to know if the transaction is even encrypted? What's to stop someone from snooping my account and ordering themself a ton of songs under my name?

I think I'll get my music the old fashioned way, go buy a CD in a store.


You are, in fact, an idiot.

Re:My problem with signing up. (1, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845062)

I gave up and from the reviews I won't bother again. I also can't say I feel very safe with Apple keeping my credit card numbers in their servers indefinately.

It worries me slightly too. I'll be keeping a close watch on my balance on that card. (Hmm, maybe I should get a card just for this?)

Does anyone happen to know if the transaction is even encrypted? What's to stop someone from snooping my account and ordering themself a ton of songs under my name?

It is listed as encryped, though I haven't actually run tcpdump or anything on it.

Re:My problem with signing up. (2, Informative)

sebi (152185) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845063)

The so-called 'security number' is something different than the last three digits of your CC-nr. You can usually find it on the backside of the card somewhere close to the signature field. On mine there are the last four digits of the CC-nr. followed by the three digit security code. See if you can find that and then it should work. Good luck.

Re:My problem with signing up. (1)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845067)

Same argument goes for anything you buy online, I guess. The transaction is encrypted. I have no idea what sort of encryption they use on the servers themselves to make it so super l33t haxors can't just copy credit card files, but I don't know why Apple would be any more retarded than the rest of the world.

iTunes 4 and the new iPod are nice and all... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844915)

...but why can't Apple just release a product more like this [rtfm.com.au] ?

Text link for the wary: http://fnordfiles.rtfm.com.au/graphics/Anime/toybo x20b.jpg

Trade-offs (5, Interesting)

vought (160908) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844928)

I think the quality of and restrictions placed on the files are acceptable. From all the compaining in the last article on this service (1400 posts!), you'd think Apple had announced a listen-once for $1.00 service.

The selection of music, while not great initially, will be expanded. They don't want me to subscribe. It's $1.00 a song - easy impulse buy. I get to choose what to do with my music - I think the copy restrictions are pretty reasonable - of course they fit my usage pattern.

I get the convenience of buying music relatively easily and painlessly, at an acceptable quality level, and without wasteful and largely unnecessary packaging. In the vast majority of cases, I (the consumer, the one who SHOULD be dictating the rules) get to pick and choose within the selection of music offered.

At least Apple is trying to give people what they want. There are some downsides to this service, but even the most stringent fair-use advocates have to admit that the itunes store is the current high water mark for selling music on the internet without Draconian restrictions.

Re:Trade-offs (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845049)

Someone... please... mod this up. It's someone that makes sense... ON SLASHDOT! You have to give him credit for that, at least.

Bug or feature with sound effects preference? (1)

0x00000dcc (614432) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844929)

My own opinion about the store is that it's great, and you need to use it to get a feel for what it's like. For me, to have the service built into the same app that plays the music, and to be able to buy the songs and have them automatically downloaded without you having to physically put them in the correct spot yourself is great. Really I didn't know how much I was going to like the service until I actually used it.

There is a strange thing (perhaps somene could enlighten me on it as to why) - if you listen to a track under headphones and a certain combination of "sound effect" and/or the equalizer is used, the volume seems to wax and wane. I am certain this has something to do with the sound effects preference, as it seems that when something really loud plays, when it stops, the other instruments are not as loud, and tehn they regain their original dynamic. Has anyone else noticed this?

iTunes Music Sharing (5, Informative)

tbmaddux (145207) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844931)

The reviewer paid little attention to the music sharing abilities of iTunes 4. iTunes 4 uses Rendezvous (allow UDP from source port 5353 and UDP multicast to 224.0.0.251) to automatically discover other libraries and their associated playlists (according to preferences set on each running "server" copy of iTunes) on its local subnet. The actual connection is made using DAAP (Digital Audio Access Protocol, allow inbound TCP on port 3689).

This lets you, for example, play back any of your MP3s or playlists stored on a central desktop server running iTunes from any of your other home machines, via whatever network setup you have. The music is streamed to your laptop via Airport, for example. That's pretty cool.

But there's more! You can also connect to any server, even those outside your subnet, using the Advanced>>Connect to Shared Music command, and then typing daap:// followed by the server you want to reach. Some browsers (I tested this with Camino) will even support passing such a URL on to iTunes. This is freakin' amazing. Commercial free radio, on demand. You choose what to play from each station's playlist! Now all we need is some sort of service to search/find running iTunes "hosts." Or, wait for the lawyers to kill it... it's too good to be true.

Caveat: to play an AAC purchased from the Apple Music Store in any case, you must be one of the 3 "authorized" machines.

Not all explicit (1)

Richard5mith (209559) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844933)

Not all albums have all their songs marked as explicit. I've seen albums on there that have songs marked as both clean and dirty (oooh, dirty).

Now if there was only a UK version...

Great for Mac users... (1)

phraktyl (92649) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844937)

But what about the rest of us? I haven't checked for a Windows version of iTunes, but I don't think one exists, and I'm certain there isn't a version for the Linux machines I'm running at the house.

Also, a buck a song still seems a bit much to me. So, it looks like I don't have a choice but to wait until some large music company realizes it could make a killing selling MP3/OGG/[your favorite format here] (and why not host several formats to choose from---storage is cheap) tracks at a quarter a download.

I'm guessing that is going to happen shortly after that AC guy looses his fixation on Natalie Portman and hot grits...

Re:Great for Mac users... (1)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845002)

I've read that Apple apparently has promised access to th iTunes Music Store sometime in the near future. QuickTime 6.2 in general can play AAC files, but it looks like the most current Windows version of QT is 6.1. I imagine 6.2 will be coming out Real Soon Now for Windows.

Yes, .99$ seems a bit much for me, per song. Some albums have a discount, coming out cheaper than n songs * $1 and what I'd pay in the store, so for situations like that, I'd totally buy it at the Apple Music Store.

Re:Great for Mac users... (1)

red5 (51324) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845022)

A windows version is in the works, and to be honest nobody really cares about linux. They figure the geeks will just get it working under wine.

.99 a song is a bit steep considering I could get a used CD cheaper. Why no OGG/MP3/<insert format here>? Two reasons: There is a new format every damn month and DRM (the real reason).

I wasted five minutes reading this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844941)

I have no intention of flaming, but that review was total shit. If you have only one Mac, and no i-pod, how the hell can you call yourself a "reviewer" of iTunes v4? You can't.

Ditto (1)

red5 (51324) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844946)

So far the only real complaint I'd have against the apple store is the light selection in comparison to amazon.com. I'm beginning to think this is the real reason they made safari and the browser was an after thought.

Also some one-hit-wonders have protected their one hit by not letting it be purchased alone (Dirty Vegas - Days Go By). Sorta goes against the whole principle of downloadable music empowering the consumer.

iTunes Music Store is Fantastic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844967)

The iTunes 4 software is quite possibly the best software I have ever seen (15 years in software development). The AAC song files sound great.

iTunes 4 is very intuitive. Menu buttons change icons depending on context, windows navigate where they should with no delay, backwards/forwards works, etc. you don't even think about it. The experience reminded me of the first time I shopped at Amazon.com (logical layout, recommendations, appropriate links to other items, etc.)

I spent three hours playing with it the first night (staying up way past bed time..) which flew by in what seemed to be 15 minutes. I spent $25 and bought some great music. Exclusive iTunes store-only tracks from U2 and Sting are now on my iPod.

When downloads failed, a pull down menu option (to resume interrupted downloads) worked seamlessly. In most instances there were no delays (on 30 sec previews, or downloads).

The only complaint I have is when I bought two tracks for 99 cents each, then decided I wanted the album for 9.99. Apple wouldn't give me a credit for the two tracks bought only a minute earlier "several tracks on this album have already been purchased. Proceed buying the album for $9.99?". I burned the album to CD and gave it to the wife. She said it sounded perfect.

break the law (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844978)

I do however have an app that hijacks the audio stream before the speakers and allows you to play with equalizers, balance, etc. Oh, and it lets you save the result as an MP3 as well as playing it through the speakers.

I fire it up and a few minutes later I have an MP3 that I can't tell from the AAC. So much for that definition of protection.


You just broke the DMCA. See you in 20 years.

What a bargain! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844980)

Do you fear that as a crowd-following, cubicle monkey you are just a nameless face in the horde of humanity? Are you so insecure that this bothers you? Do you have more money than you need, and are you looking for a way to waste it pointlessly?!?!

If so we have the solution! For the low price of $54,233,232.00 you too can purchase a computer, music player, and music service that says you ARE AN INDIVIDUAL. As more and more individuals by these products it only FURTHER affirms your individuality!

Those people who told you you define your idenitity are wrong, DEAD WRONG (we killed them). Turst us, be an individual, join the crowd...

Thanks, I'll stick with the more powerful PC I purchased for half the price using widely available, competitively priced components. Oh, and did I mention my hardware isn't made/designed by a software company or by a laughing stock hardware company like Motorola?

-rt

Listen.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5844993)

I've been using Listen.com for a few months now, and really enjoy it. The content is initially streamed from their servers. It sounds as good to me as 128K MP3 audio at least, and I've only had one or two delays streaming at work where I have a fast connection or at home over my DSL connection.

You can't access the media as separate files; the songs get cached in this monster (around 1G) file that I have yet to play with. Definitely worth the money.

is total recorder available for the Mac? (1)

rtphokie (518490) | more than 10 years ago | (#5844996)

It would eliminate the protection problems any of these music download sales thingies impose.

Slightly OT, but iTunes station lists? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845017)

This is slightly OT but it has been bugging me for a while now.

The Radio Station playlists loaded into iTunes used to come from Kerbango.com, which went under.

Some of us who work with/for streaming stations and want to get OUR stations into the iTunes list found that Apple moved this station-list in house, as evinced by a little packet sniffing. Its just an an xml push.

The thing is _there's still no way_ to submit a station to get listed. I haven't checked out the new iTunes but was wondering if any /.ers had some input...

Support RIAA (4, Interesting)

Alric (58756) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845032)

If I'm going be supporting the RIAA with my money, by god, I want CD quality and the ability to manipulate the files however I wish.

Of course with copy-protected CD's and such, this option might be dying slowly.

Apple needs to get in tight with independent music labels and let bands choose what they want to charge for each song, minus some standard fee. For example, Apple can charge $.45 per song transaction fee, and if the band wants to each song to cost $.50, then the band would only get a $.05 return on each song.

They should really try to establish a legitimate community around this service. I'm thinking of something like AudioGalaxy, but with artists being fairly compensated.

bad news (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5845033)

according to this document [apple.com] . "Other AAC files that you find on the Internet or elsewhere will not play in iTunes." There is also some question is other things that will play AAC will play these files also

Why Not RIP the CD (0, Redundant)

north.coaster (136450) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845042)

If you want an MP3 of a song, why not burn the song to CD-RW, then RIP it using your favorite ripping software?

Alternate view (4, Interesting)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845056)

On to the interesting stuff: actually buying songs. I select a song I've got a poor p2p copy of and click buy, and it asks me to sign in with my Apple ID, or create one if I don't have one. This is where I have my first problem. I have an Apple ID, but entering it puts up a message saying I've never used it with iTunes Music Store before (well, duh) and asks me to review the terms and conditions. Then it directs me to the account creation screen, with my info already filled in.

Of course, the account creation screen won't let you create a duplicate account, and asks me to log in. Can we say endless loop? How about bug that should be fixed?


I've signed up two accounts since the store opened and both went from the terms and conditions screen into the store once I had succesfully logged in with an existing apple id. I would say this is probably an isolated incidant. Or at least one of low occurance as it's the first place I've seen the error reported.

The selection is broad, but not yet very deep. Many albums I found are in partial status, with only one or two songs. Several artists I was looking for were not listed at all.

It's a new service and Apple admits freely that they are adding music as quickly as possible and are only adding what the music labels have agreed to provide.

Also, some albums are listed as "Explicit" or "Clean." Notice I said "albums": if one song in an album has a label they all seem to, though I didn't do an exhaustive search. Since this is structured as song-centric, I feel they should have labeled on a song-by-song basis.

This is most likely due to how the songs/albums are provided to Apple by the labels. When you go to a store and there are two copies of an album one is clean and the other is explicit it is because one or more songs on the album are considered to be that way. This very well may have to do with the voluntary labeling the record labels have been doing. This is hardly an issue, and for many parents letting their kids get music using iTunes is probably a good thing. So I don't see how this could possibly be an issue, nor do I see a reason for it to be changed.

First options: inside iTunes. iTunes can convert one format to another normally, trying it on a 'protected' AAC file returns an error. Also, trying to burn an MP3 CD with one on the playlist just skips burning the AAC files (or returns an error if they are the only files.) Fair enough, we didn't really expect the capability to circumvent all controls to be built in... (Though you can of course burn regular CDs.)

Of course you can't burn MP3 cds, of course you can't convert the song directly to mp3 in iTunes. That would blatently break the copy limitations and the record companies wouldn't have allowed Apple to go through with it. However, the easiest way to beat the copy protection is either convert the AAC file with another app that ignores the protection or burn a regular cd from iTunes and then rerip the song into the format of your choice. Of course you are burning and ripping a reduced quality song and then encoding it into yet another lossy format (probably) which is only going to reduce the quality more so there isn't really a great reason to do so.

This service isn't for everyone. It's for people that primarily listen to thier songs on thier computer, ipod, or maybe the car. Anyone with a nice stereo isn't going to want to go this route due to the reduced quality of the songs. My experience with the system has been good so far. I don't see myself buying a lot of music because of a couple of reasons. First, the price per song is not low enough to justify the low quality of the reproduction. If I go to the store and buy a cd I'm getting several songs for around $1.00 - $1.50 each depending on the artist, label, and number of tracks on the cd. These are in high quality format on the cd and I can rip the entire cd to whatever quality format I want. I also get a jewel case and liner notes etc. When I get a song from the iTunes music store it is in a lower quality than cd, has no liner notes etc, and is restricted in how I can use it. Finally, the number of songs available is still very limited, and even as it increases I can't see myself purchasing more than 5-10 songs per year as I would rather get the higher quality cd version that has none of the restrictions of the lower quality version.

I think that while this is a good idea it has a limited market. What more people would probably like is being able to pick a list of songs and get them burned to a cd and mailed directly to them in a high quality format. This would be even better at a store. Walk into BestBuy grab the ten cds that you want one song off. Walk over to a machine that you use to scan the barcodes of the cds from (or it could all be listed right there on the machine of course) and then select the song from the cd you want creating a cd creation list. Once your cd is full it prompts if you want to burn the cd. You select yes and two minutes later a shiny cdr pops out labeled on the top with your list of songs and a reciept spits out of the machine on another panel. You walk up to the register and pay for your custom cd. You only pay for the songs you are interested in. The artists get paid for the songs that are quality, and the brick and mortar store might make a few extra bucks on other stuff because they got you to come into the store. Again, you aren't getting liner notes etc but you are getting exactly what you want in a non limiting format and a full quality format. I would even be willing to pay about $15 for a custom cd like that if it had at least 12 songs on it.

Protection (1)

ryanr (30917) | more than 10 years ago | (#5845058)

So... you're saying that it will refuse to convert to an MP3 for you. Yet it will burn it on a CD? And I'm guessing that it will let you rip CDs to MP3s? Is there any Mac software that will allow burning and mounting virtual CDs?

(Note: I don't actually have a Mac, I'm just cracking this in my head.)
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