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Friday, July 25, 2003

Buy Music—Just Watch Where You Buy It launched earlier this week, and the reviews are pouring in. Mac Observer does a side-by-side comparison with the iTunes Music Store and concludes the flexible pricing model can be a gouge: "Is anyone home at Is the amazing DRM dance they are doing distracting them from common sense pricing?" The Mac News Network notes the rip-off television ads (which I saw for the first time Wednesday night; yeah, they're catchy but much, much too familiar), and the fact songs can't be moved to an iPod (50% of the portable player market). Ars Technica likewise is unimpressed:

With, you'll end up with a cacophony of licensing deals that'll make doing your taxes look easy. It looks to have been a trade-off: Apple put their fist down and said, "our way or the highway," and some labels walked. was more flexible, and as a result, their music catalog has about 100k more songs, but lacks consistency.

Worse still,

[T]he licenses are totally non-transferable, and are machine specific. The license is tied not to you, or to a key you possess. Nope, the license is tied to the computer. As far as I can tell, and someone on the phone confirmed this, once you switch computers, you're no longer licensed. Your burned CDs are still playable, but the WMA file on your computer will no longer work.

As Doc Searls recently observed, "there is zero demand on the customers' side" for these sorts of shenanigans. Much as I would like to see take off, the market may have some hard lessons for it in the near term.

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