Tag Archives: napster

Buying Music ala Carte vs Renting with Subscriptions

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Googler888 writes: “I’ve been a hardcore iTunes song buyer for a couple of years now, and boy has it been great. I know Chris loves using subscription-based song services like Rhapsody and Napster, so I am hoping to start a war between the two. So here are my top 5 reasons why I chose owning a song, rather than renting it.”

  • It certainly does feel awkward to be constantly giving money to “the man” every month, for an all-you-can-eat subscription. The fact is, if you don’t pay him, your tunes expire. You have then wasted around 80 Gigabytes of your hard drive space with songs you can no longer listen to. This will take forever to delete them all. It also means, of course, you will no longer have the tunes for your music player… unless you pay “the man” again, re-activate your tunes… and hope you don’t forget to pay next time.
  • Renting songs is a bad idea for people who travel a lot. Let’s say you have just loaded up your music player with these subscription-based tunes, and are headed out on your vacation. You leave your computer at home, because you shouldn’t need it on a trip to the Carribbean. You land in Barbados, only to find that your tunes have expired. Your seven days in the country will now be unpleasurable, because you forgot to re-subscribe and no longer have access to your music. Now you have to pay $25 to the hotel for their in-suite, on-demand music service, and you won’t have your tunes for when you go to the beach.
  • Piracy and Viruses. Piracy has been plaguing the music industry for years. There are now programs that strip these tunes of their DRM so that they can be kept forever. This means that services like Rhapsody will go out of business, because all their songs have been stripped and are now available from BitTorrent or Limewire. Mind you, services like Rhapsody and Napster are very cheap monthly, meaning that people are going to turn to them for their piracy-making. Also, this means that viruses, trojans, or other malware can be uploaded to BitTorrent or Limewire in the zip file that contains the song.
  • iPods. iPod does not support Windows Media DRM 10, which is what services like Rhapsody and Napster have been using to “protect” their music. That cool new iPod Touch or iPhone you just bought won’t play your subscription tunes, leaving you disappointed and in despair. Also, iPods are very sleek and cool looking. This puts people in the awkward position of choosing to get the “cool” iPod, or settle for an ugly MP3 player that “just happens” to play WMA DRM 10 songs.
  • Availability. Many places around the world sell MP3 players that support these shenanigans. Services like Rhapsody are not available worldwide. So if your favorite song that you want to rent is only on Rhapsody and you happen to be in Canada, Norway or China… you’re out of luck.

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Microsoft's Zune Competes with Microsoft

I don’t get it. Should I be using Napster, URGE, or Zune? Should I be using the Clix or the Zune? Should I be using Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune Marketplace software? There are too many choices, many of which are not interoperable, coming to me from the same company: Microsoft. Instead of simplifying the market, they’ve made it slightly more complicated with Zune (and likely pissed off countless partners in the process).

So, on one hand, I’m being told that URGE in combo with WMP is the way to go. On the other hand, I’m being told that Zune is the way to go (hardware, software, subscription) is the way to go. I certainly appreciate that there’s somewhat of a unified experience with Zune, but… now I have one more subscription to worry about… one more piece of software to worry about… and yet more choices that seem to completely nullify earlier efforts of Microsoft (itself) and its partners.

That I can see, there’s no clear cross-over between the Zune and Windows Media Center, for me to take my recorded shows on the go (since the Zune plays video). There’s no interaction with any other Microsoft product other than Windows. There’s no path to personalized media (podcasting, DVD ripping, etc.). In the interviews I’ve read, all of this is by design.

It’s almost like Microsoft is competing with itself – like it’s taking a mulligan on all earlier efforts in the digital media space.

Cancel Napster

Hey, Napster? Thanks for making it an absolute pain in the ass to cancel our account – yet another reason to abandon your service. I had to call a phone number to tell you that I wanted to quit. Why?

  • MTV’s new URGE service is far less problematic. Far less.
  • I really like the Clix, and URGE works better with it.
  • Napster’s software continues to suck.
  • You made me call a number to cancel service. I hate that. Really.
  • URGE is the future, Napster is still living in the past.

Windows Media Player 1l… is still far from impressive. Don’t swallow the hype when you see it, please? WMP11 is better than WMP10 – but “less crappy” is not an honorable benchmark. They continue to ignore user interface inconsistencies and feedback from Windows Media’s most ardent supporters – including MVPs, who were seemingly marginalized during 11’s development process.