I did it. I bought music on iTunes. Two EPs and three singles. This is certainly a sign of the apocalypse. When I can get an EP with four tracks for less than $4, I’m saving a significant sum as compared to the CD version. And individual songs for 99¢? I consider this a fair trade for getting only a compressed music file.
But all of these things have been true since the iTunes store opened for business. What took me so long?
The keynote address at last week’s Macworld convention is what took so long. Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, announced that iTunes will begin discarding DRM protection on the tracks they sell over the next six months. I’ve looked at the music I bought today on iTunes a few months ago and saw it was DRM-laden, so I didn’t buy it. Curious, I went back today and saw it carried the “iTunes Plus” label, indicating a lack of DRM and a higher bit rate. Excellent.
I very much prefer CDs for music, with the not-compressed bitstream and the complete liner notes, so I’ll probably find myself in a bit of a dilemma when deciding how to purchase music easily available on CD. With hard to find music however, it’ll now be a no-brainer.
Just a word of warning, however. Even though iTunes Plus tracks are not restricted to only computers and iPods associated with your iTunes account, don’t go giving those tracks to everyone you know. Your account information is stored in those files so they can be tracked back to you. Canada allows you to copy music for personal use, but I’m unclear on whether the copying of these files falls under this same permission. If you want remove any trace of personal information, burn the tracks to an audio CD, and pass the CD along to your friends. They can then rip the music themselves. The resulting files may be audibly inferior to the most discriminating ears, but they’re getting them for free so they have no cause for complaint!