Known Johnson

March 18, 2007

In which I confess to giving in to Itunes

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:41 am

After 27 months of Ipod ownage, I finally gave in to Itunes when the new Son Volt album came out a couple weeks back. I couldn’t resist – the normal store version of the album is 14 songs while Itunes’ version is a whopping 22, and that’s not a bunch of throwaway bonus songs. These are actual album songs, not b-sides, live tracks, or alternate takes. No, what is available on Itunes is The Search as it was intended to be heard. And it’s only $9.99. I couldn’t pass it up.

And I do realize that I’m not giving up that much anymore – packaging of most albums these days isn’t what it used to be. But I still love the idea of owning an album in a tangible format, something I can hold, take with me, and most of all, decide what I want to do with it when it comes to compressing it for use in my Ipod. Now I have The Search in Apple’s compressed, lossy format, but what’s worse, I’ve got it in their damned protected format that tells me where I can use it and how many times I can do so. I realize I can find some applications on the internet to strip out or disable this feature in the files, but I don’t think I should have to. Just like with copy-protected CDs, the only person being punished here is ME, the person who BOUGHT the damned music in the first place. But I bought, I love it, it’s a great album, and I’m not going to let Apple’s bullshit destroy my enjoyment of it.

I woke up this morning with something in my head, something itching at me because of the upcoming Methney/Mehldau concert – Mehldau’s Live In Tokyo album. I have the CD, but I know there’s a Japanese version on two discs that includes what I believe is the entire concert. I did a little research this morning and found that I could buy it from either the US Amazon or the Japanese Amazon for about the same amount – about $47, or a lone reseller on the US Amazon has it for $36. And then something popped into my head, something I’d completely forgotten about. I remembered reading somewhere long ago when this album came out that Itunes had an exclusive version of Live In Tokyo. I opened the Itunes store, typed in “mehldau tokyo”, and up popped four versions. I thought three of them would be identical, being the same price ($9.99) and the other would be the exclusive (the $13.99) one, but it turned out that it’s more complicated than that. Two of them are identical, I don’t know why, but for some reason, you can get the exclusive version at either $13.99 or $9.99. Obviously, you’d be a fool to pay $4 more than you need to. I’d just love to know why the pricier one exists.

Anyway, as you can guess, Live In Tokyo, the complete version, is downloading right now from Itunes. I couldn’t resist at 1/3 of the price of the cheapest option (or almost 1/4 of the Amazon option.) I haven’t fully given in to downloading music, however. I still refuse to buy normal stuff this way – I even went and bought a hard copy of The Search from Best Buy both because I just needed a CD with packaging, liner notes, etc., and because it had a bonus disc with some more non-album content. I also still have my Emusic account that I really enjoy – it has provided me access to some really interesting music, jazz especially, that is very difficult to find, or that I might not have taken the opportunity explore given the full price of a CD. For example, I might not have stumbled across the Sam Keevers Nonet, but I’m sure glad I did. It’ll cost about $40 to get the two albums from Amazon that I got – but I got them off Emusic for $2.

I’ll be a lot happier when downloading music goes the way that DGMLive has chosen to go – giving users an option of lossless files. I just don’t trust computers and hard drives enough to store precious, paid-for music files. Sure, you can back stuff up, but at some point, there’s going to be a mess of discs to dig through to find what you need. This is just not a logical solution. The logical solution will eventually come when these download stores keep track of what you purchase and allow you redownload things that have been lost. I don’t think any of them do that now, unfortunately. Until then, I’m keeping my downloading to a minimum.

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