AfterDawn: Tech news launches its music service -- spiced with DRM

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 22 Jul 2003 15:58 User comments (4) launched its music download service today, starting the race to offer the iTunes-like services for Windows users. sounds good on a paper: there are over 300,000 songs to choose from, which is 100k more than what Apple has in its iTunes service; album prices start from $7.95, which is $2 less than what iTunes charges; single track downloads cost $0.79, $0.20 less than what iTunes charges.

But there's always the catch.. It seems that just wanted to be "the first" to exploit the Windows userbase after iTunes' whopping success (Apple says that they deliver over 100,000 paid downloads each week), at any cost. What does this mean? didn't have time or willingness to negotiate and pressure record labels to hand out free licensing deals, but instead every label can set their own terms for the DRM protection the songs have. So, labels can make the songs so that they cannot be transferred to portable digital audio players or burnt on CDs or transferred to other PCs -- Apple's iTunes allows free burning to CDs, transfers to its iPod player, etc without asking questions from the labels whether they want this or not.

Second catch is the fact that all the songs use Windows Media Audio 9 format which means that Linux users and Mac users will be pretty much blocked out of the service. It also means that majority of portable digital audio players wont play the tracks even if the particular label allows transferring the songs to a such device (and obviously this applies to all MP3-only-capable devices -- at the moment it seems that even coffee machines come equipped with MP3-capabilities).

Third possible flaw is the fact that everybody seems to think that simply by setting up a website where users can purchase music is enough. Apple's service doesn't operate through a website, but through their multimedia player instead, utilizing some of the most throughly tested solutions, such as's "one-click shopping" system. So, the interface and user experience is something that probably will determine whether any of the new music stores will succedd -- or will Apple's Windows version, that's rumoured to be launched around American Thanksgiving Day, eventually reap the rewards, leaving other companies struggling to find the working alternative concept to sell digital multimedia to users.

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4 user comments

122.7.2003 22:05

Well at least an atepmt is made.

(adrenaline Is the closest Total freedom)

223.7.2003 7:39

I haven't looked hard, but there's got to be a DRM ripping tool out there, no? Otherwise, to get these songs from my computer to my ipod or whatever, i have to burn it to cd (if possible), then rip it back to my hdd, sans DRM, right? dull

323.7.2003 7:44

ALSO! i looked over there and found something interesting: some albums dont have all the songs. That is, it will list songs 3-5 in a 8 song album for download. Now, some also have a "download album" button. if i download the album that way, do i only get songs 3-5 or do i get the whole cd? needless to say, i'll never find out through personal experience.

423.7.2003 7:53

A poor attempt is no attempt IMHO. Poodull... Burn the songs to CD and rip them to MP3.. that's all I can think of.

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