CDs vs. Downloads

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the inconvenience of downloading music from iTunes. Yes, you read that right. I said inconvenience.

Sure, it’s great to download music immediately, when I want it, and pay only 99¢ per song. But what’s not so good is the restrictions on music use:

  • I must register every computer I want to play my purchased songs on and I only get 5 of them. That covers my desktop Mac, my PowerBook, my Mac test mule (for writing Mac books and articles), my Windows test mule for writing Windows books and articles), and my husband’s laptop. About a year ago I was faced with a not-so-unique problem: the motherboard on my dual G5 went bad and needed to be replaced — before I could unregister it from iTunes. I lost one of my computer registrations and had to do battle with Apple to get it back.
  • I can’t easily back up my purchased music. I need to go through some kind of procedure that I simply haven’t had time to explore. In fact there seem to be restrictions on how I copy the music, period.
  • Apparently, there is some loss of quality if I burn purchased music to a CD and then rip that music to a computer. I haven’t played around with this enough to have the full story, but I shouldn’t have to spend the time to figure out why my music quality should change. It shouldn’t change.

Fortunately, I have an iPod (or three) so the fact that iPods are the only MP3 players that can play iTunes purchased music isn’t a problem for me. But I understand that it’s a major gripe for other people.

I was going to write a blog entry about all this, but now I don’t have to. I just read a piece that expresses my feelings and frustrations on this matter better than I could. From Alpha Geek: CDs vs. Downloads on Lifehacker:

DRM, the chief source of all this grief, is the love child of Satan and Osama bin Laden. If I could pay 99 cents for an unprotected, unrestricted, 320Kbps MP3, I’d do it in a heartbeat–and it would be all over for CDs. Instead, online music stores treat us like thieving children, locking us into one bit rate, one file format, a limited number of CD burns, and other annoying handcuffs. Apple and Microsoft impose the worst kind of restriction: Songs purchased from iTunes and Zune Marketplace can be played only on iPods and Zunes, respectively.

And later:

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve rekindled my love affair with CDs. They let me do things, to borrow from Old Blue Eyes, my way. See you in hell, DRM.

Thanks, Rick Broida, for putting my thoughts into words. See you at the CD store.

2 thoughts on “CDs vs. Downloads

  1. I agree 100%. I thought iTunes was kind of interesting when I first checked it out. But after realizing I could not burn the music I paid for and listen to it in my car or home audio system, only my computer, I quickly changed my mind. If you pay for a song you should be able to do what you want with it.

    I don’t have an iPod, as I have an mp3 cd player in my car. Perhaps I should look into picking up a used iPod on eBay…

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