This blog is a way for me to share hard learned lessons about money with those who are just starting out on their own. I hope it's a way for you to avoid making the mistakes I made, and to benefit from my experiences

Monday, April 23, 2007

Downloading Music

I'm not much of a music buff, so I'm kind of late to the game when it comes to downloading music. Oh, I've ripped some of my CDs so I could play them on the computer, and I toyed with Limewire a while back downloading some old songs that I used to have on cassettes I had bought.

But recently, I got a free Ipod Nano from a credit card promotion (sorry, that promotion doesn't exist any longer) and also I have a new car that has an MP3 capable CD player in it. So I thought I'd check out some of the legal music services. What a hassle!

First, I already subscribe to Yahoo Music Unlimited so I can listen to music at work. They stream it in and have a wide selection. I can play new hits, old hits, or maybe some relaxation music. Good stuff. The quality ain't the greatest, but I'm OK with it.

So there's some hits on the radio I like these days, and I buy 5 of them off of Yahoo. Can I put them on my Ipod? NO! Furthermore, they aren't MP3s, so I can't even burn an MP3 CD to play in my car stereo. Yes, I can burn an audio CD, but more on that later. Sure I can download from ITunes to put on my Ipod, but you can't burn an MP3 there either.

Also, Yahoo has an enhanced subscription music service called Yahoo Unlimited Music To Go. This let's me put as many songs on my MP3 player as I want to carry around with me. Uh, except again it doesn't work with the IPod. Also it costs extra. I checked out Rhapsody, Napster and they have the same story. ITunes doesn't even have a subscription service, like it, so no Ipod relief there either.

For all of these services, I have to buy the song using a lossy compression method, WMA or AAC, burn it as an audio CD, then rip that CD again with an even older lossy compression method, MP3, all to get my music in an eastily useable format.

The audio quality just ripping straight from CD, let alone converting these others, is nowhere near CD quality. Maybe cassette quality. What happened to how important CD clarity was? Now nobody gives a crap about the quality, just as long as you can move it around in an electronic format.

This brings me to my point. ITunes notwithstanding, the legal downloading music biz sucks! Because of Digital Rights Management, you can't really move it everywhere you want it, at least not without further audio quality loss, and the audio quality is inferior to begin with!

I used to think that people downloaded music illegally because they were just cheap. Now I'm beginning to understand there maybe other reasons. Portability for one. Still not sure how I'm going to resolve this. I really do want to buy music legally. The artist and distributors are providing value to me, and I want them to profit from it. But why does it have to be so difficult?

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