Critical Section

iTunes Music Store

Monday,  04/28/03  10:22 PM

iTunes Music Store
(click for fullsize screenshot)
iTunes Music Store

So, I'm sure you heard, Apple announced their new online music service, the iTunes Music Store. 

They are charging $1/track, and they have deals with all the major labels.  Crucially, downloaded tracks can be downloaded to iPods and burned onto CDs, with no restrictions.  The service is integrated right into iTunes, Apple's free music player.  { By the way, this means it is Mac-only, at least for the time being... }

It looks really, really nice.  $1/track might be too much - I think $.50 is the right price point - but they're definitely on the right track [sorry].  You can preview 30 seconds of any song right in iTunes.  Buy the track, download it, listen to it, copy it to your MP3 player, and burn it onto a CD, all within one app.  The response time using a cable modem was instant.  And the content was there - in my unscientific sampling they seemed to have every artist I could think of, except the Rolling Stones.  { What's up with that? }

It took no time to get setup for buying tracks (they obviously subscribe to the PayPal school of "ask no questions you don't have to").  I downloaded Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo in ten seconds, and poof; it was sitting on my hard drive and I could play it (I'm listening to it now).  I downloaded the whole album, it has nine tracks so it cost $9.  I copied it to my iPod, and then burned it to a CD.  So easy...

Time will tell if people really are willing to pay for music this way.  I think people will pay for a great experience (consider Starbucks).  The price might still be slightly too high, but they're getting close.  It sure beats any other online music service hands down (I've tried them all).

As soon as you see it, you'll say "this is the way online music should work".

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