Online Music

Sun 28 March 2004 by Kevin van Haaren

Slashdot reports that is being merged with the parent site

I’m assuming this indicates the failure of, and good riddence I say. I looked over the site when it first fired up but never bought a song from them.

IMO, the main reasons for the failures:

  1. Horribly variant restrictions – I guess decided their customer was the record labels, not the people giving them money. As such they allowed each label to set it’s own restrictions per album. Look at The Who’s Then & Now album. On BuyMusic you can only play it on one computer. It does allow unlimited transfers (transfers are to portable players) and unlimited cd burning — always features on iTunes.

    Flip over to Norah Jones and the restrictions are 1 computer can play, only 5 cd burns, unlimited transfers.

    Check out Cypress Hill and they do let you play it on 3 computers, but you can only put it on your player 5 times.

    Cypress Hill (or their label) is freaking insane if they think I’ll ever buy something I can only put on my iPod 5 times. My iPod is my primary mode of listening to music. Any music that limits the number of times I can put it on there won’t get bought — period, you’re telling me you only want me to listen to your songs 5 times, well screw you too I won’t listen at all.

    Although I don’t like DRM on my music, iTunes is minimally acceptable – 3 computers at a time can be authorized to listen to music, unlimited transfers and unlimited burns. But most imporatantly it’s freaking consistant across all the music.

  2. browser bias – only supports windows with IE 5.0 or later. Hey I’m typing this on my Windows XP box, but I prefer the FireFox browser. Not helpful to tell potential customers you don’t like their shoes so they can’t come in the store. iTunes has a browser bias too — only the iTunes application can access the store. At least that supports Mac’s (hopefully Linux at some point too….)

  3. Format bias – WMA’s don’t work on my iPod (yet). I’ve a personal bias against Microsoft document formats so this may not have been a big issue — but it is a strike against you to not support the #1 selling portable player on the market. Of course iTunes also has a format bias and if Apple doesn’t open up the the authorization scheme to non-Apple players I’m guessing they may get accused of anti-trust activities in the online music biz.

Overall iTunes is a better store, but the my favorite way of getting music, especially new and odd stuff is from The downloads are unrestricted MP3’s. It’s a subscription service so it’s much easier to download music you’ve not heard of. You are limited on how much you can download (40 songs per month for $10 a month), but that is somewhat acceptable limitation (I was a memeber when downloading was unlimited and it totally rocked.) emusic does not have the big name labels like iTunes and BuyMusic, but those services aren’t too different from commerical radio anyway.

I’m debating rejoining emusic and the primary strike against it is that they don’t have a yearly plan. I’d rather pay $120 right now for 40 songs/month than be dinked $10 each month on my credit card. A discount for a full year would be nice too 8-)

On the plus side emusic is like that little college radio station you find that just plays whatever music they feel like it. Always something interesting around the corner. Combined with the forums and the charts and user lists and it’s actually pretty easy to find some good music. Gah, I guess I’m talking myself into signing back up.