Even though huge online players like Amazon and Apple are working on ways to provide users a marketplace to resell “used” digital downloads like mp3s and e-books, neither plan really deals with the most salient problem with reselling digital products — getting rid of the original copy. [More]
Back in 2003, when iPods didn’t make phone calls and people still bought music on something called Compact Discs, Walmart apparently launched an online MP3 download store to compete with Apple’s iTunes. And while Big W is the nation’s largest retailer, it failed at unseating King Apple from the throne. Thus, today it announced it would close the store for good later this month.
Lala, the music streaming/backup service that’s also a reasonably priced mp3 store, has been purchased by Apple. Does this mean Apple may introduce some sort of streaming service in the future? On Lala, you can pay 10 cents per song to stream it as much as you want, or $.99-1.29 to own it outright. At any rate, if you buy from Lala now, you’re buying from Apple.
Reader Michael writes to let us know that the latest iPod shuffle, an mp3 player whose small size makes it an attractive exercise companion, tends to break when used as an exercise companion.
MP3newswire.net browsed through not-quite-hits from past decades on the iTunes Music Store to see where these fabled 69 cent music tracks are hiding. He tried the Katydids, Camper Van Beethoven, the Lyres, Rock and Roll Trio, but found nothing below 99 cents. Then he went back to be-bop and blues recordings of the ’40s—nope. Finally, he looked at songs from Ada Jones, a recording artist from 1893 to 1922. Everything was still 99 cents.
Say what you will about Apple’s dominion over the music industry, but for a while now they’ve maintained an artificially low market for music tracks by forcing labels to sell songs for 99 cents each. That era is over: in exchange for moving to a higher bitrate and going 100% DRM free (hooray) iTunes has officially introduced “variable pricing” (boo), which means each track may cost 69 cents, 99 cents, or $1.29—it all depends on the song and the label. It looks like Amazon has introduced variable pricing as well, although it’s mostly holding to the 99 cents threshold for now. Amazon’s tracks, by the way, have always been free of DRM.
Update: Mike writes back to say that after reading the comments below, he checked his purchase history and the album is indeed listed there. What’s confusing is Mike didn’t buy it through iTunes, but through Amazon, but he says that other people did have access to his account and may have purchased it without his knowledge.
Remember that Norwegian site that was offering Beatles songs for legal download? Yeah, well, not anymore. It turns out their licensing agreement stipulates that the shows they put online have to have been aired within the past 4 weeks, and all the Beatles shows are from 2007. [Exclaim News] (Thanks to elc81!)
Update: Guitar Center has fixed the pricing error and offered refunds.
Quick, get out your throw-away cash and head to Guitar Center! Their website sells the iPod Classic and both sizes of the iPod Touch for $100 more than what you’ll find pretty much everywhere else. (We guess there’s extra rock-n-roll in them.) You know what makes us crazy? We bet people still buy them.
If you’re a podcast sort of person, Get Rich Slowly has a list of 12 personal finance podcasts that they say are the best of the bunch—informative, entertaining, well-produced, and unique. “Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life” is their top choice:
Amazon.com apparently has a glitch whereby if you have 1-click ordering set up to buy MP3 downloads, and you forget that you canceled your credit card because it had been stolen by a random French person, you’ll end up with a bunch of “free music.” And, if you’re an honest person like Jeff Somogyi, when you try to contact Amazon to pay for the music, they’ll chuckle at you.
Today, MP3tunes’ CEO Michael Robertson sent out an email to all users of the online music backup and place-shifting service MP3tunes.com, asking them to help publicize EMI’s ridiculous and ignorant lawsuit against the company. EMI believes that consumers aren’t allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service. (And we’re not using a euphemism here—it really is a backup/place-shifting service and not a file sharing site in disguise.)
Okay, so it’s not like there aren’t 15,000 MP3-player reviews already on the web, but SmartMoney decided to jump on the bandwagon and rate five 8-gigabyte MP3 players. Instead of hard stats and lab tests, they handed the devices to an NYU music instructor and audiophile and asked him to walk around the city playing with them. The Apple iPod Touch—at $300, the most expensive of the lot—came out on top, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone, but the SanDisk Sansa View performed well too.
Sony has agreed to sell its songs DRM-free on the Amazon MP3 store, completing the set—now all four big record companies are on board. It’s amazing how a little iTunes competitiveness will bring a bunch of executives together.
Inspired by Radiohead’s recent digital experiment, British violinist Tasmin Little is releasing her next album online for free, sans DRM shackles. “I’ve done this with no intention of making money… I want to make [classical music] more accessible.”
Napster, once a file-sharing service that famously drug the RIAA kicking and litigating into the digital music era, will finally drop DRM and start selling mp3s, says Ars Technica.
Daryl Hill of Cookeville, TN purchased an MP3 player from Walmart for his 10-year-old daughter. He handed the player over to his daughter thinking it was new, when in fact the previous owner had filled the player with pornography.
Starting today, Warner Music songs are now available on the Amazon MP3 music store, in DRM-free formats and at prices competitive to what iTunes charges. According to Reuters, Amazon has now reached “deals with music labels Universal Music Group, part of Vivendi, and EMI. The remaining major recording group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, has yet to offer its songs for the service.” Sony BMG, you guys are very, very old dorks.