A better way to buy music

CDsI’ve made no secret about my lack of appreciation for iTunes 7. It’s going the wrong direction from what started as an incredibly intelligent and user-friendly audio management system. But now that I’m experiencing loss of music I PAID for, not even stole, I’m starting to look for other options.

I’ve been using iTunes for maybe 3 years, not as long as most people. But I’ve used it on two PCs and 4 Macs as I’ve moved through different primary computers for home and work. And now that I’m on the most recent, a few tunes that I’ve purchased through the iTunes store have “failed out” because I’ve authorized them on my “maximum of 5 computers.”

Never mind that a few of these computer switches have been Apple-guided migrations of my applications, files, and user identity. Never mind that I wiped clean the user files from my Powerbook G4 before I sold it to my friend. Or that I have a PC tower in my garage with a failed power supply that I can’t boot up to rescue that music from. In all of these cases, it’s more trouble than it’s worth for me to log onto those old computers and “de-authorize” them to play a 99-cent tune Kanye West tune. But as a result, I get the “no can do” from iTunes when I try to play that tune, and my easiest option is to re-purchase it from iTunes on my current Mac.

Being on the business end of this message is a terrible feeling for a user, and underscores my post about the impermanence of music.

For a while, I thought it would be a great, efficient, and environmentally responsible option to start purchasing all my music through iTunes. Immediate, digital, and bulk.

But lately, this feeling of being skunked by the Apple DRM 5-computer policy is making me feel more like buying CDs again, importing them and then storing the discs for backup later. I’ve discovered that Best Buy is now selling most new releases and a few others on its front end-caps for $9.99 and $7.99. I’m sure this pricing represents some sort of insidious corporate monopoly on music distribution (though Apple’s  doing the same thing), but for now, it’s providing me a more satisfying and secure feeling user experience as a music buyer.

Man, I miss the good old days of Napster.


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