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ITunes: What rubbish.

After making such bold claims for their ITunes software, you'd think they'd botter to make the application itself decent.
   
ITunes is complete rubbish.

This isn't just because I'm used to Windows, the software is fundamentally flawed.

Just look at what happens with compilation albums.

I should be able to browse by Artist, Genre, Song Title or Album Title.

Instead I am forced to select a Genre, then the Artist.  Only with the Artists name can I finally reach the level of Album Title.

The compilation Albums are listed under 'Various Artists.'  In the POP Genre there are dozens of 'Various Artists' listed.  I have to click on each on individually to see what album they are referring to.

The people at apple should look at Audiogalaxy and see how it should be done.

I have to make sure I don't run ITunes and Java at the same time, in case the garbage collector kicks in and wipes it off my hard drive.

OH, and only Americans get to buy anything.  Who took the world out of world wide web?

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Dunno about iTunes for Windows but on the mac, click Browse, then select your album title - no need to go through the categories sequentially. 

And the music store is coming to Europe - it's the record companies holding out (as each country has its own set of distribution contracts) http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2003/10/20031006021444.shtml

Zealot
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I couldn't find that.

The browse facility is almost identical to the package browser in VisualWorks Smalltalk.  I hated that as well.

Three list boxs side by side!  They could have written it in Javascript and saved everybody the download.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I think the original poster spent about 5 minutes looking at iTunes.

I think they were mainly talking about the iTunes store, and the browsing in this part of the application is more limited. However, it is still possible to, for example, search for an artist, track, album etc., and this functionality is provided both by the iTunes app and in the HTML interface. So, in fact, it is possible to browse using the methods requested by the poster.

After a few months of existence, apple's iTunes store is the market leader in online music sales, and they have achieved this without a Windows client. So, I imagine they did look at their competitors, and learned from them. They also brought ease of use, high speed downloads, high quality streamed previews, high quality audio (digitized from the studio masters rather than ripped from CD), very liberal DRM, integration with one of the best portable music devices on the market, and all at a low cost.

The integration with their iPod deserves special mention: one of the features is what they call 'seamless round-tripping': this means that you can download music (or, in this context an audio book), start playing it on your computer, sync to the iPod, automatically resume listening where you left off on your computer, return to the computer, sync, and then continue listening on your computer from the same point you left off on the iPod.

So, I wonder if the original poster will write me some Javascript to do that. Oh, and then write me some Javascript to automatically discover other networked collections of songs and allow me to stream them to my machine whilst simultaneously streaming my music to others on the network. No? That's why it's an app.

I haven't experienced any Java/iTunes problems.

C Rose
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Did anyone else have problems with iTunes "reorganizing" your music?  I installed it, pointed it to my MP3 root directory and then all of the sudden all of my music was in different folders than where I had it.  I had a Random folder with like 100 songs in it, and now they are all moved to directory structures with Artist-Album setups. 
AND, if the songs did not have ID3 tags, it moved them all into this "Various Artist" directory and now I have like 500 songs in there I have to go in and reorganize.

I like the interface, and let me tell you, it beats the crap out of MusicMatch Jukebox for syncing up the old iPod.  Now that application had serious UI problems!

Matt Watson
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Apple are getting back at Microsoft for Word 6 on the Mac.

Milton
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Matt, the reorganization is an option you selected (likely not being aware of it).  I don't have iTunes in front of me (NT at work), but the text is similar to "Let iTunes manage my music for me", which will arrange your music based on a hierarchy dictated by the ID-tags.

Ged, have you tried using the search box to locate your music, its incredibly handy and the fact that its dynamic is pretty nifty and provides a lot of user feedback.

Speculation is that iTunes for Canada will be out soon.  Europe will likely come by the end of the year.  The reason for the delays, as previously mentioned, is the different licensing and distribution contracts in each area.  Whereas a company like BuyMusic.com has no problem distributing music which has different licensing terms from other music they are distributing (its amazing, check it out... different pieces have different licenses), Apple insists on having a uniform license.  You might not appreciate the delay, but I appreciate having all my music under the same set of terms so I don't have to learn a different set of rules for every song I purchase.

And if you don't like the interface, that's fine, use a different service, that's why they exist. 

Lou
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Seems we have a PEBKAC here (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair).

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Lou,
Is "Let iTunes Manage my Songs" the default when you add a folder.  I know I did not specify to do that.
Second question is there an option for "Let iTunes UNMANAGE my songs? plleeeeaaassse

Matt Watson
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Matt, I'm sorry but there isn't.

While I don't think its the default, though it has been a while since I've installed iTunes from scratch.  There has been some discussion of this (I think it was in an ArsTechnica review but I can't locate it) saying that this was an issue for some Windows users (they didn't realize what iTunes was going to do).

Lou
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Yes, letting iTunes manage your files/songs is an option users have to turn on... however, there should never, *never* be a destructive option in a program without an option to undo it.  If the developers have no way (see also: too lazy to figure it out) to undo it, there should be a warning presented before going forward.  Yes, 99% of the users won't read it, but then... that's their fault.

This is especially awful here, as Windows users that are used to using WMP (I'm talking about regular folks here) have been able to name and organize their files at will, and when WMP "imported" them into its library, all it did was create useful onscreen views of the files... the files themselves were left as is.  As someone who has spent a great deal of time getting all his files under one naming convention, this is a Good Thing(tm).

Between the annoying HCI, the mangling of files, installation of uneeded services (why do I need the iPodService when I haven't even thought of buying one?), and outright crashing of workstations, iTunes is a far, *far* cry from "best Windows app ever"... at best, it's a second-rate media player with iTMS access.

Greg Hurlman (www.squaretwo.net)
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

BTW - the ArsTechnica review is at http://arstechnica.com/wankerdesk/03q2/i-tunes-1.html .

Greg Hurlman (www.squaretwo.net)
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Lou,

When installing ITunes, it asks if I should allow ITunes to manage my files.

It does not say that it will move all of their files into a single folder.

Why is this necessary?

When I installed Windows Media Player it searched my hard drive and indexed my MP3s but did not move any of them.

Are there no fully qualified paths in Mac OS?

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Johny,

I guess your right.

Both keyboard and chair are located at Apple Towers.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"So, I imagine they did look at their competitors, and learned from them."

Please note that historically this is not one of Apple's strong suits.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Ged, having iTunes manage your MP3s is designed for someone with a lot of files who does't want to manually arrange them.  iTunes can build a list of songs without managing the library itself (two different issues).  I've run the system both ways depending on my use at the time.

Lou
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I don't know what you are talking about.  I find iTunes to be a category defining product.  Look at the competition:

Windows Media Player.  Forces use of WMA files that nobody cares about except microsoft.  Contained a serious security flaw at release.  UI so messed up I couldn't figure out how to switch between playing MP3s and CDs. 

Real Jukebox.  Like all real software, it contains more ad fluff than actual software. Often locks up and refuses to play at all.  Load times are insane.

WinAmp.  Probably the best of the bad, but feels like it never got beyond shareware.  Most skins unusable.  Control buttons are insanely small when minimized.  Uses lame Hi-Fi metaphor, instead of effectively using the computer interface.  Video play seems messed up, and colors drop out.

I found iTunes useable, fully functional, and beautiful to look at.  I think steve knows what he's doing. 

Quick Time is the most reliable video player and format on windows.  It just works.

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

--"Quick Time is the most reliable video player and format on windows.  It just works. "---

Version 5 maybe - the earlier ones certainly didn't. I used to run a CALL lab, and nearly all the programs would install some version or other of Quicktime. I found it advisable to reboot the machines every hour to avoid freeze ups.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Is it really sensible to discuss other applications misuse of Quicktime 4 when the current version is 6.4 and far removed from that iteration?

Lou
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Ged: "Who took the world out of WWW".

Exsisting contracts between artists and record labels specify the format in which the record label can distribute the artists' work and the reimbursement they receive for sales in that format. This means each and every artist has to sign an ammendment to their contract and often artists have contracts with different companies in different territories. (Conceivably a label that only distributes online could emerge and artists could sign online distribution rights with that label and traditonal distribution rights with other players - although my guess is that the traditional distributors would kick up a stink if that happened).

The thing that is special about the iTunes Music Store (not to be confused with iTunes the software) is that Apple have got the major labels on board. What is interesting about Apple's approach is the Mac users were there test market (traditionally it's smaller *countries* - e.g. all EMI CD releases in Australia/New Zealand are "copy protected" and have been for a year), once that test market proved itself switching to Windows users in the U.S. was a matter of Apple writing the software, and not a matter of waiting for contracts for the U.S. to be signed.

Walter Rumsby
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

>>
The thing that is special about the iTunes Music Store (not to be confused with iTunes the software) is that Apple have got the major labels on board.
<<

How is this something special about iTunes?  Particularly given that some of the other music services that have been out much longer than iTunes have MUCH broader selections?

SomeBody
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The only real reason to use iTunes is if you have an iPod.  The iTunes Music Store is just a lock-in scam to sell more iPods (iTMS isn't even profitable for Apple).  If you buy music from the store, the only portable device you can play your music on is... you guessed it... the iPod. 

People claim that WMA is closed!  AAC is open!  It's all bollocks.  The AAC files from iTMS use a proprietary encryption that locks you into iTunes+iPod.  It's NOT open.  Noone can play encrypted AAC files except iTunes+iPod.  On the contrary, the SDK to play WMA files is freely available.

Granted the other music services using WMA are locking you in to WMA, but legal downloaded music is always going to have some form of lockin.  At least WMA is supported by nearly all the portable players--except the iPod, and several music software applications--except iTunes.  Big surprise. 

Napster will soon be offering music under the same licensing terms as the iTunes store, only their music will be playable on your choice of hardware and software (well, except for iPod+iTunes, but that was Apple's choice.)

Steve
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"Windows Media Player.  Forces use of WMA files that nobody cares about except microsoft. "

Luckily that line came up early in your post and I could skip the rest because you have no idea what you're talking about.  WMP will play any audio file that a local codec is installed for and the default install will play MP3s just fine. 

Mister Fancypants
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"How is this something special about iTunes?"

Because the major labels control the distribution of the majority of music right now.

Even if other sources have a wider selection, etc, iTunes Music Store is bringing the concept to more and more people. Based on the sales figures (14,000,000 songs since opening) have any of these other online stores sold as much music? Given that Pepsi is going to give away *100 million* (yes 100,000,000) songs in the U.S. via iTMS will any other store sell as much downloadable music online? [I was involved in a similar promotion in Australia where Pepsi gave away free CDs featuring customer-selected playlists - the 100,000,000 will be sold]

iTMS is positioning itself as the Amazon.com of digital music sales. Compare this to the [failed] official offerings by the major labels (Pressplay and the other one...) which initially splintered distribution into two camps (i.e. I think it was Warner, Universal + EMI vs. Sony, BMG + EMI) and offered unattractive pricing schemes. The significant thing here is that Apple has got consumers AND distributors onside.

Walter Rumsby
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Contest winnings != sales.

Greg Hurlman (www.squaretwo.net)
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

It's not contest winnings. You buy X cans of Pepsi, enter a code - effective Pepsi pay, or give you the equivalent of an iTMS allowance of something.

The result. 100,000,000 songs get downloaded via iTMS. That's probably several million (plus) people using iTMS that wouldn't have otherwise.

In terms of money going to Apple, no that's not the same as 100,000,000 sales, but it probably is (or at least is close to) for the record label and one would hope the artist too.

It's also putting the servers under the load required for 100,000,000 sales and it's getting those people who download (for free) used to iTMS - if in the future they want to buy a downloadable tune (say for instance if an artist does a promotion whereby the song is available for download 1 month before street date so as to get hype about X downloads; an artist makes all their deleted singles available for download; etc) then they're going to know how to get the song from iTMS and will probably fire up iTunes.

Walter Rumsby
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

WMP will play MP3.  Trying ripping them from your CDs out of the box.

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I don't get it.  Why would people buy music when they can get it more easily and for free, using kazaa lite? 

If I really like the music, I'll buy it.  The only people that lose out are the scum that put out tripe to take advantage of youthful lack of taste.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"Why would people buy music when they can get it more easily and for free, using kazaa lite?"

Because:
    I already know what songs I like
    I want to have a legal copy of the songs I like
    I don't want to pay for the filler that is included on
        the CD with the songs I like.

I really like iTunes so far. My complaints are minor: 1) Ctrl-F for full-screen? 2) I made the mistake of "allowing iTunes to manage my files". This last would have been a huge problem for me if I had a really organized collection, but as it is it was just very annoying.

Zahid
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Why browse for songs when you can just do a search for the title? Use the search box in the upper righthand corner of the window and type in all or most of the title you're looking for. It's nearly instantaneous. It also works for artists.

Brad
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Right.  The iTunes pricing scheme that allows one album to be purchased for $9.99 is sooooo much more attractive than, for example, Rhapsody's pricing scheme that allows unlimited streaming of 400,000 albums for $9.99/month. 

By my calculations, if I wanted to purchase from iTunes the complete library that I currently have saved on Rhapsody, I would have to pay the equivalent of over 50 years of Rhapsody service.  Of course, this is completely theoretical because iTunes is missing a large portion of the songs that are in my Rhapsody library.

I don't get it.  Was I absent the day that Steve Jobs was serving the Kool-Aid?

SomeBody
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

There is a warning before your songs are moved. If you tell iTunes to manage your files, it tells you that the option will move your files and can not be undone.

If you choose yes to that, then it's a PEBKAC if you later complain you don't like the results.

iTunes has some interesting ideas to library management, but the windows version is not quite up to final release quality yet. I'd say it's late beta quality at the moment. Needs some performance improvements and bugs ironed out before I'll consider the switch from winamp.

Sum Dum Gai
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Where's one interesting sidewalk to the iTunes discussion: many bands out there, i.e. their respective management, don't want to sell single songs on iTunes but only the complete album. E.g. Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, who happen to share the same managers.

Why? Because if you allow people to download single songs from an album, the market will decide and judge over the album in terms of "only 3 out of 12 songs have been demanded, the rest seems to be crap". Who will buy the complete album when he knows that he has to pay for the other 9 songs millions of people, and lots of fans have labelled as "not worth the purchase"?

Of course, this market arithmetic has been already labeled as "We artists want to decide on the artistic integrity of our art".

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"The only real reason to use iTunes is if you have an iPod."

Not necessarily. On the mac, "iLife" ( http://www.apple.com/ilife/ ) comprises iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD and enables you to integrate photos and movies from your camcorder with sound from iTunes and then burn a DVD, quite easily. Stop by an Apple store and have one of the dudes dressed in black to demo it for you. It's quite impressive.

Ultimately, though, I think porting it to Windows is another pitch to switch to mac - I just can't see them porting those other apps to windows.

Interaction Architect
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

SomeBody, streaming content doesn't work so well on iPods. They are two different models. Streaming music in my opinion is "fancy radio" as opposed to buying music, I own it and can listen to it on my iPod (which I don't own, but will have to buy to enjoy it on the go). The magic part is in the iPod sales as others have pointed out.

m
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The iPod explanation makes some sense but most of the comments that I've seen lauding iTunes make absolutely no reference to the iPod.  It's comments such as "The thing that is special about the iTunes Music Store ... is that Apple have got the major labels on board." that I find so bizarre.  Let's pretend that none of the existing music services for Windows really exist! 

SomeBody
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Sigh.

Labels giving access to sell for DOWNLOAD is different that giving access to sell for STREAMING. Streaming will be treated basically like radio. 

If you don't understand the difference between downloading and streaming:
1. Good grief!
2. Downloading is like buying a CD (you have a "permanent" copy).
3. Streaming is like listening to the radio (yes there are ways around this, ya de ya de ya...).

Name one other service that sells songs for DOWNLOAD at or below the price points offerred by iTunes Music Store that stocks product from all five major labels AND independent labels in significant quantities. (And don't say Kazaa).

You have Pressplay (http://www.pressplay.com/ - which died and will be relaunched as "Napster 2" offering the same pricing structure as Apple), you have MusicNet (http://www.musicnet.com/ - AOL's Pressplay) and you have smaller players like SoundBuzz, etc etc.

Pressplay and MusicNet were the record labels "answer" to Napster, but suffered from limited selection, restrictive licensing and poor pricing (e.g. low caps on what could be downloaded, media became unplayable once you stopped subscribing to the service, etc). Do a Google search and you'll see reviews of these services and admissions from label execs that they didn't offer a compelling model to consumers.

iTunes Music Store is the first offering which has appealed to significant numbers of consumers. Several reasons given for this are the simple pricing model (0.99c/track; $9.99/album) and the relatively loose DRM.

If what Apple is doing is not so special why are Microsoft planning to release a similar service in the next few months (and have been telling major labels "Don't worry about that iTunes thing, we'll have a Windows version out soon")?

One can't help thinking that if ANY other company had released the same service there wouldn't be so much FUD around the place.

Maybe Apple's hype generates negative reactions, but push aside the hype and look at what it is: the most viable new form of music distribution that has sprouted up after an agonizingly long period of undelivered promises.

[Yes I own an Apple computer, but having also worked for a major record label in the dotcom/"new media" space I think my opinion is more qualified than biased].

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Add Mercora to the list.

http://www.mercora.com

Prakash S
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Why browse when you can search?

When is the last time you visited a record store with a shopping list of the Title and Artist of each album you wanted?

Sure, there is the editorial, but my tastes are a little more individual than that.  The front page stuff rarely interests me.  Obviously this is my problem, as I lack taste.  If my taste was correct, I would be able to appreciate just how wonderful the software and content is. 

With MP3.com I can browse by category or geographic area.  Each category has its own chart, from which I can discover new music.  There is much more functionality, and I didn't need to install anything.

MP3.com's technology was way ahead of ITunes 3 years ago.  That was when the genre of music store was defined.  The only thing Itunes brings on board is the co-operation of the music industry.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Itunes crashed during installation on my Win2K system, and now I can't install or uninstall it. It seems like many users with W2K are having this problem. A pity Apple didn't do their tests properly, I'll stick with winamp for now.

Jan Miczaika
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Uh, where did anyone get the idea that buying music off iTMS leaves you stuck playing it back solely through iTunes or an iPod?  Purchased songs can be burned to an proper audio cd, allowing playback on countless CD players and re-ripping as DRM-less files (albeit with a slight loss of quality).  Dunno 'bout windows yet, but on the Mac folks have already come up with ways to export AAC files to MP3 without the step of burning to disc first.  I've bought a few albums on iTMS and listen to them in my car on its 9 year old CD player, and on my clie.

Now, that said, I've had two problems with iTunes on my win2k box that will keep me from using it.  The first is that when ripping CDs, it's having problems identifying CDs that I've inserted; it accesses the Gracenote database, but comes up with nothing.  MusicMatch has no problems identifying the same CD.  The second problem is that when streaming a radio station (radioparadise.com), the display does not update to show the currently playing song -- a function which works properly in iTunes on the Mac (and on WinAmp).  If this stuff gets fixed, I'll *gladly* dump MMJB and WinAmp.

jburka
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

On browsing versus searching: in his original post, Ged wrote: "I should be able to browse by Artist, Genre, Song Title or Album Title. Instead I am forced to select a Genre, then the Artist.  Only with the Artists name can I finally reach the level of Album Title."

My point is that there's no need to be able to browse by artist, song title, or album title, as those are all easily obtained through the Search function. If you want to browse, you browse by genre.

If I want to browse jazz, iTunes lets me do that. If, on the other hand, I want to find music by Bill Evans, or if I want to find "Waltz for Debby" by Bill Evans, I just type those into the search box and presto, you get all the recordings by Bill Evans or all the versions of Waltz for Debby.

Like many others, I was unable to install iTunes on my Windows 2000 machine. But I've been using it for a couple of years on my Mac and it's great.

Brad
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I like WinAmp 5 beta 1 better.

The interface is much nicer than the iTunes point and drool interface.

_
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

>>
Name one other service that sells songs for DOWNLOAD at or below the price points offerred by iTunes Music Store that stocks product from all five major labels AND independent labels in significant quantities.
<<

Could you put any more conditions on that?  Why didn't you just say "Name one other server that is named iTunes and run by Apple and..."?  I've named Rhapsody a billion times already.  Once you are a member of the streaming service, you can burn tracks for $.79 each.  The quantities stocked by iTunes don't seem to be too significant to me.  Sure, if you only listen to Top 40 stuff, iTunes might make you happy.  Stray outside of that and it seems to be severly lacking.

I'm confused by why I should care so much about the difference between streaming and downloading (unless I own something like an iPod or do most of my listening away from a PC).  Occasionally when I have to take a trip within the same region that I live, I'll compare the time and cost of taking a train versus driving.  It never occurred to me to think "OMG!!! U DON'T GET THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DRIVING AND TAKING A TRAIN!!!". 

Streaming is NOT like a radio.  You have no control over what songs are played on a radio.  For someone who does most of their listening in front of a PC, why does it matter if the content is being streamed from the network or from their hard drive (besides saving gigs of space with the streaming service)? 

SomeBody
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

If all you ever do is listen to music at your PC, maybe streaming is fine for you.  A lot of people like to listen to music away from their pc, be it via an mp3 player, cd player, or whatever.

Second, I don't know about Rhapsody as this is the first I'd ever heard of it, but I've never used a streaming music service where the encoded tracks were of the same quality (quality of encoding, not quality of music) as those on iTunes

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

" The interface is much nicer than the iTunes point and drool interface."

Yeah, we don't want interfaces that are too easy to use now, do we?  All those confusing Windows user interfaces build character.

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"The only thing Itunes brings on board is the co-operation of the music industry."

And we all know how trivial a task that was, which explains why so many others managed to do it before Apple.

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

3 conditions (downloadable, .99c/$9.99, offers product from all major labels + independents) is a lot?!?!

The difference between streaming and downloading for me is... I'm on dialup and except for a few sites that are really clued up it's not feasible for me to stream music... and in the cases that it is it's not feasible for me to check my email/surf the web/chat to friends using a messenger at the same time.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"Sure, if you only listen to Top 40 stuff, iTunes might make you happy."

If you think that major labels only stock what's on the top 40 you're sadly mistaken. Many many smaller labels have distribution deals with majors so, in effect, their music is available through a major.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I found selections by Eighteenth Street Lounge Music, which is a cutting edge independant label out of DC, on iTunes.  I was pretty impressed as they are not available on Rhapsody. 

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Somebody,

I really like Rhapsody.  Those who haven't tried it, bash it, and in my opinion, just don't get it.  $10/month.  I listen to 400,000 songs of high quality on demand. 

It is a freakin' deal. 

I am so hooked on it, I don't think I could live w/out it, and I have no affiliation with Real Networks, I just hope there are enough users to support it. 

My only fear is that Real will destroy it, and make it unusable, like the rest of their software.

Between Rhapsody, and iTunes, I think I now have the best of everything.  Great MP3 player/encoder and access to the few songs that aren't available on Rhapsody. 

The only better MP3 player that iTunes is Traktor by Native Instruments, and that is in a totally different league.

BTW, I'm starting to really appreciate Steve Jobs.  He makes aesthetics matter in a world of concrete and strip malls.

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

So to clarify,

The cost of Rhapsody is $10/month + .79c a song. Meaning...  if you don't stream any audio you have to download 51 songs every month for it to cost less than iTMS. The average consumer is supposed to buy something like 4 CDs a year.

Pressplay and MusicNet tried a subscription model - a couple of years ago everyone was high on the idea of subscription-based services - the idea is attractive to vendors, but not to consumers.

Again, what is significant about iTMS is that it has done the best job of opening up downloadable music sales to consumers and it has done that in part by being less restrictive than other operators.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"The average consumer is supposed to buy something like 4 CDs a year."

By that I mean "in the real world" - i.e. Joe Average will buy about 4 CDs - something like 40-80 songs - a year from Tower/Virgin/Walmart/etc.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

My point is that the major labels agreed to license their content to other music services before Apple.  Whether or not one service model is better for you is immaterial.  The leap from streaming/burning to downloading isn't as great as the leap from nothing to something.  Claiming that Apple accomplished anything revolutionary with this is a joke.  The major labels were moving towards this sort of thing long before iTunes.  Do a search for some old news articles. 

Rhapsody has all five major labels plus over fifty independents on board.  The sound quality of Rhapsody is good -- I believe it's 128 kbps WMA.  I haven't heard any iTunes downloads but I did listen to one of the iTunes radio stations and it sounded like garbage.  I hope the downloads are better. 

How about a music service that seems to have the exact same service model as iTunes -- http://www.musicmatch.com

SomeBody
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Ah,

No need to do Google searching, if you read *my* posts you'll see I also say that others have tried to do what iTMS did before. I have worked for a major record label in the dotcom space. iTMS has had the most success because [AGAIN] they offered something more appealing to consumers.

So [AGAIN] [hopefully] FINALLY, iTMS:
* No subscriber fees
* Cheap pricing (e.g. cheaper than Rhapsody unless downloading a lot of content)
* Usable by dial-up users (i.e. download service, not streaming service)
* All major labels on board from inception (i.e. good range)
* Ability to burn CDs, relatively loose DRM
* Marketing clout/Pepsi promo (100,000,000 free songs no doubt advertised on TV spots featuring Shakira, Kylie Minogue, etc)
* Other goodies for iPod users and Rendevous users, smart playlists, etc

Re: MusicMatch (they've been around since 1996 in one form or another according to http://web.archive.org ) - at what point did they offer the .99/9.99 pricing (no evidence of this at or before Feb 2003)? I believe Apple was the pioneer here.

Go on, admit that iTMS might actually appeal to some people. It won't hurt, I promise.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Walter,

I have no problem accepting that ITunes has great appeal for some people.

It's 'genre defining' and 'best ever' I object to.

Until seeing Itunes I always thought that Mac users were genuinly enjoying a superior user experience to me.

Now it seems that it is simple a matter of style of content.  I'm sure that the IPod is a very capable MP3 player, but I doubt its significantly superior to my generic  £50 device.

Of course, as a status symbol it serves its purpose well.  I guess this is why that status is so zealously defended.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, October 23, 2003

That should be style over content.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I was skeptical about Rhapsody, but it's great. The downside of the music-as-service model is that the service has no value beyond the period in which you use it. At the end of the month, I have nothing to show for $10 of subscription fee. The other downside is that it doesn't work in my car or through my home stereo, but that's also the case with MP3s and my existing hardware. It works fairly well at the office and over my cable modem and wireless LAN at home. So if I look at as paying a few cents a day for highly customized radio service at the office, it isn't unreasonable.

The upside is that the decision to listen to a piece of music is no longer a purchasing decision. I'm listening to a much wider variety of music than I would if I spent $9.99 a month on 99-cent downloads. If I get bored with an album, I listen to another one and it costs no additional money. This has turned out to be huge. Rhapsody has a huge catalog of classical music that I'll never get around to buying on CD (I buy maybe 2 CDs a year), and I can listen to a different classical CD each morning if I want to.

The other upside is that I'm not acquiring any more clutter. CDs have at least some resale value. Whether or not MP3s have resale value remains to be seen. But MP3s do need to be backed up or you lose them. In 5-ish years of listening to MP3s, I don't think I've ever copied any to CD. I haven't gotten around to buying a CD burner and it just hasn't been a high priority. With Rhapsody, there's no resale value, but I also don't have to worry about making backups of anything. I could reformat my hard drive, download the Rhapsody player again, and my music library would be accessible when I started it up. I can't do that with iTunes.

Beth
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Walt Mossberg comes down in favor of iTunes (and the iPod):

"The Windows version of iTunes is a clone of the terrific Macintosh version -- in both its design and its functionality. It's a Swiss Army knife of a music program, packed with features, but in a package that makes it all simple."

http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/solution-20031022.html

Jim Rankin
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Ged,

Re: Apple's ease of use. It's one of those things that was once true, but is no longer accurate (see also: Java is slow).

As someone who has worked with both Macs and PCs over the last 10+ years I would say that I find Windows is generally easier to use and probably has been for the last five years (at least) - I'm not really sold on the menu bar at the top of the screen argument for instance; I think Microsoft develop better user interfaces these days and I think that lies at the heart of much of their success. Also, prior to OS X the Mac operating system was less stable than comprable Windows versions for at least a similar period of time. OS X seems solid, but realistically I don't have any complaints about the stability of Windows 2000 or XP either.

I came "back" to Macs more out of curiosity. OS X is the operating system promised to us for at least a decade and users of NeXT (which is the ancestor or OS X) claim it to have been the best development platform around. Certainly the terminal is a big plus over the DOS prompt and thanks to Java most of what I need runs on a JVM, if I need to run a Windows application I have a PC and OS X lets me run some Unix-based applications more easily (e.g. without having to go through Cygwin). That and I can gently improve my Unix skills. Apple do seem to be pushing around in some new areas and that's kind of exciting too.

Making iTunes for Windows look like an OS X application is not a great idea. Perhaps the idea is to get people used to interacting with applications in the OS X style way but I think the UI should have been a standard Windows-based UI (for one it probably would have got to market sooner - Apple probably had to write an OS X look and feel for Windows). I'd very much doubt that iTunes is the best Windows application ever (that'd be IDEA anyway :)), but iTMS is the best downloadable music store that we've seen so far.

iTMS > iTunes.

Walter Rumsby
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Walter, you seem to be missing my point.  I never said that iTMS/iTunes/iWhatever has no appeal.  I installed it myself because I could imagine getting some use out of it (it was quickly uninstalled).  If you want to listen to only four new CDs a year or don't listen to music in front of a PC with a broadband connection then obviously paying $9.99/month would be stupid.  My point is that iTMS/iTunes/iWhatever isn't as revolutionary as some people are making it out to be.  Listen.com went through the troubles of getting record companies and artists to sign those contracts long before Apple did and it would be hard to imagine that this didn't make it much easier for Apple to come along later. 

Beth brought up a great point about Rhapsody -- "... the decision to listen to a piece of music is no longer a purchasing decision."  It's hard to compare Rhapsody's service fee to straight out purchasing because of this.  Rhapsody has given me the ability to explore different artists and genres that would've otherwise cost me hundreds to thousands of dollars and a load of time sticking CDs into drives, ripping songs, etc..  If someone mentions a piece of music, I can bring up Rhapsody and listen to it immediately at no extra cost (assuming Rhapsody has it, they have a pretty good selection but are still missing a lot of content, as are iTMS and the others).  The barrier to listening to new things has been broken.  That's what I find revolutionary and iTMS/iTunes can't give you that. 

SomeBody
Thursday, October 23, 2003

"That's what I find revolutionary and iTMS/iTunes can't give you that."

It'll give you a 30 second preview though. Browse to the song you want to hear and double click on it.

I also like having the choice of over 5000 audiobook titles to download.

Interaction Architect
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I was wondering if someone could answer any of these questions:

Does iTunes allow me to transfer the files to a non-iPod mp3 player?  B/c they're in AAC format, which I had never heard of until I read that it's what the iPod uses.

What players (other than iTunes) will play the AAC format?

I also had heard that Walmart.com now had a musicdownload center.  But when I went to check it out I noticed they said the music came with a license that restricted your access, not too badly, but you still had to mess with the license in turning it on and off and transfering it to all the computers that had the song on it.  Has anyone used this service?  How bad is it?  Not to mention they used WMA format, which won't play in Winamp, which is my favorite player.  Whatever happened
to the mp3?  Why do people insist on changing to other formats?

Sorry, maybe I'm just too picky and I know what I want, but haven't seen it.  I want a program that will allow me to download music I want for .99 or less for each song.  I don't want a monthly subscription fee.  I don't want to deal with licenses.  I want it in basic mp3 format.  And I want it to have almost every CD imaginable.  My guess is the only way to get this is to buy the CD and rip it or get the mp3 illegally.

Jacqueline
Sunday, August 08, 2004

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