Two weeks ago we featured an early pick on iTunes for Windows, but today iTunes’ main competitor Napster 2.0 was released for a free download. We had a play with it and here is what we think about it and how it compares to iTunes. The installation went over without a hitch. It installed both the Roxio burner software as well as the application itself. When you start Napster, you are asked to create a free account. Without it, Napster won’t connect to anything. I don’t know how secure it is to give your email address and name, but I did so for the sake of this article, and immediately afterwards, I was able to browse the home page of the app. Napster 22.214.171.124 is using IE and Macromedia Flash to render its pages.
Napster’s UI has three categories: Home, Browse and Library. Clicking on any of these buttons will reveal a set of subcategory buttons. For example, for Home, it will reveal, “Music”, Radio, Magazine and “Message Boards”. Under Music, you can browse the homepages of each kind of music (e.g. classical, alternative, pop etc), while the front page has a link in the footer about “Videos”. Clicking on this link (for example) will take you to a page where you have options to choose from as many as 40-50 full-length video clips. I found myself wishing that there were more.
Clicking on “Radio” will do absolutely nothing until you pay Napster and become a subscription member. The Magazine has a few interesting articles, but it is mainly a marketing tool and will probably not be considered very relevant to the media player/purchaser. To some, this feature become handy for company/product announcements. Clicking on the “message boards” tab again asks the visitor to become a *full* Napster member.
The “Browse” family of buttons are a “live” representation of Napster’s status. There, you can browse artists and albums, you can search for the latest added songs, see what people are streaming most at any given time and also check out the charts and the Napster member collections. The software allows you to browse according to the music genre, which makes it easy to locate the kind of music you want. It is important to note here that I really liked the ability to view Charts, as it can search “live” both Napster’s most downlodable, most streamed, top artists and top albums. There is also an option to do the same for.. Billboard’s charts! When in Billboard mode, you can search by year and find the song you like, then see the numbers of weeks in the US charts, its position etc. This was among my most favorite features, as it turned Napster into a music “encyclopedia” of sorts. When in “Members’ collection”, you can view again by a whole list of Napster users by genre then browse their collections and their favorites. I am not as sure about the usefulness of this feature per se, but it might come handy if you’re actually part of the Napster community and know some of these people as online buddies.
The third main button, the “Library”, includes a list of your personal favorites. These include artists, albums, Playlists, your purchased tracks. You also get a download status, your History of the tracks you played, your buddy’s nicknames, as well as a messaging service. (looks like email between you and your Napster buddies). Additionally, you get a way to copy your songs to the Napster portable device, the DRM-enabled “Samsung Napster Player.”
On the right side of the window, you get a mini player (this is where your 30-second songs are previewed.) Quality seemed pretty good utilizing 96 kbit WMA. Every time you click on a song to preview it, the image changes into the picture of the album or single. Below the image, you get a list of all the songs you ever previewed with Napster 2. You can save it as a playlist, shuffle it, or clear it and start all over again. On the same sub-window, you can also select Radio stations (if you are subscribed). Clicking on any song in that list will start playing it, while you can also drag-n-drop them to your Library’s tree-view.
Napster 2 has two views: the full view and the mini-player one. The mini-player view is a disaster in my opinion. It takes the whole screen horizontally, as you can see from the shot below. On my 1600×1200 screen, it is just not a “mini” mode, but a long ugly strip. And when I am out of the mini mode, I have to resize back my windows manually (I always have OE at 800×1170 and IE at 800×1170, side by side, that’s my default setup on Windows daily).
Burning with the embedded Roxio engine is actually very easy, you just drag-n-drop entries from any of your views (from the Library, or the Browse pages) and then you hit “Burn”. Searching for artists also seems to work well, it finds more songs than iTunes does (e.g. Napster has at least one Madonna song), but it has a bad categorization. For example, I don’t consider “I will always love you” from W. Houston to be Dance, but I did find it under that category when searching. However, overall, the experience is similar to iTunes in terms of searching for artists, listening to tracks, as well as finding the most popular of a specific artist. Prices are comparable to iTunes as well: $0.99 for a song, $9.99 for a whole album.
Napster was very stable for me, the only problem I noticed was that I wasn’t able to connect to the server for some specific song previews (Vangelis, EarthWind&Fire etc). It would tell me that the server is busy and that I should try again later. I never had such a problem with iTunes.
Napster is more of a “community”-driven music store, while iTunes is more of a personal music player with the addition of a Store. iTunes’ primary function is to play all music, while Napster’s is to sell. That’s the biggest difference I found between the two apps. For example, when I installed iTunes, it found my local Music folder and it automatically added it to its Library. The software also allowed me to play several radio stations and have visual effects. Napster on the other hand is tied to the store, you can only listen to what you purchased from it or its previews, and you have to pay for radio support. It feels a lot like “use Napster to buy a song, and then play it with Winamp”. Napster is a fine shop, it has a few enhancements over iTunes (mostly on charts abilities, community support — plus it seemed to have a much faster UI than iTunes’), but it would never be my default music player. Plus, it has very weird memory consumption patterns. When Napster is minimized or in the background doing nothing, it only takes 3-8 MB of RAM (and that’s nice), but when you use it a bit and play a few songs, the RAM usage skyrockets to between 33 and 48 MB. That’s too much in my opinion, I have never seen iTunes using more than 32 MB on the same PC.
Napster works well and seems to be a complete product. However, the competition with the popular iTunes might prove troublesome to Napster LLC.
I wanted to point out to the author that iTunes does support video. Take a look at the Coldplay iTunes page for an example of this. iTunes just utilizes Quicktime, which is very, very flexible.
i am not willing to pay for music. These artist are all very rich. I use Kazza Lite 🙂
I am sorry, but I don’t see any “Coldplay” on my iTunes’ Store front page. Where is that exactly located?
What are the bit rates of the songs?
Are there more than 1 bit rate that you can download?
What if you are downloading a song, and your connection drops leaving you half a song on your hard drive. Do you still pay for it? And if you reconnect can you resume it without having to pay for it again?
I looked at the napster site (albeit briefly) and didn’t see any of answers to my questions.
Its largley web/flash based, yet its still limited to Mac and Windows? It can’t be DRM, because IIRC, OS X doesn’t have any. Oh well, if they don’t want it, then fine. I spend hundreds of dollars on music every year and I was interested in subscribing ’till now.
It’s using IE and WMA and so it is actually limited to Windows-only.
Eugenia, open iTunes and look on left hand side under “Featured Artists.” I see this as another way for Apple to get Quicktime onto the Windows desktop….
Does anyone know if it has liberal burning options like iTunes does. I also wonder if you lose access to your purchased WMA content if you need to reinstall Windows.
I have already purchased a few tracks with ITMS and don’t yet see any compelling reason to consider Napster 2.0 at this point.
> I have already purchased a few tracks with ITMS and don’t yet see any compelling reason to consider Napster 2.0 at this point.
Well if you have an old pc that is out of date, for example, a 500mhz celeron it might run better than ITMS does. Or if your video card was made in the last 2 years. It was designed originally for Windows so it should run better than ITMS.
Ah, ok, I just found one video in the Featured Artists category, for REM. No wonder I haven’t seen it before.
I am sorry, but I don’t see any “Coldplay” on my iTunes’ Store front page. Where is that exactly located?
I think it’s currently under the heading “Featured Artists” on the front page.
There’s actually a good bit of band pages in iTunes that have videos. It’s cool because it takes the video thing a step forward and will give rare or exclusive concert footage for some of the featured artists.
Napster 2 certainly looks complete. Though, I hate the Windows Media format and the fact that it’s basically just a means to buy music. Couldn’t this have just been a web page where you just download DRM-ed files or something? I don’t know, maybe it’s a stand alone app to maintain the facade of the first Napster (May it rest in piece).
The two most intriguing parts of the ITMS to me is that it can tap into the flexibility of Quicktime and its extensive use of XML. It would seem to me that Apple is building a platform to deliver far more than audio. What do others think of the ITMS architecture? Possible extensions of it?
This is my first pay to play experience, and it was disappointing. I had the napster client installed on my laptop, and I downloaded a track. The download was actually very quick. I then moved it to my samba server where I keep all my music, without playing it on my laptop first. I then tried to play it on my desktop and WMP informed me it had to get new DRM components, I said ok, but WMP came back and told me the media was not available. I went back to my laptop and I could play it there, but nowhere else 😐 I realize that DRM technically works like this, but I would think that it wouldn’t bind the license to the computer without playing it first.
Sometimes I think that the RIAA saddles iTMS/Napster2/Buymusic/etc with intentionally unreasonable restrictions so that no one will buy their trash, and then they (or their pet senators/congresspeople) can go “See? We gave them the opportunity to pay for music online, but hardly anyone did – they’re all filthy theives, that’s why we need this new wonderful legislation!”
I will not pay a higher price for music that’s in a MORE restricted and significantly lower quality format that audio CD. Oh, and I will never sign up for a music service that appears to be limited to mainstream top 40 dreck – or any service which doesn’t let me see what music is available before signing up, for that matter. Oh wait, I can’t anyway – they’re all limited to the US.
The other day, I downloaded Reconstruction Site by the Weakerthans and Show Me Your Tears by Frank Black and the Catholics – neither of which I could find on any of the pay music sites (well, at least the ones that let you see what they have before joining). And there sure as hell weren’t copies of them in any of the stores around here – so I just mailed both groups a cheque for $10 and a note saying “This is about 10x what you would be getting if I purchased your work ‘legitimately’.” I may be a dirty theiving IP pirate, but my conscience is nice and clear.
IIRC, Napster isn’t available on OS X. And ever considered the market aspect of things – how many Linux users do you think would buy music?
From the article:
Napster on the other hand is tied to the store, you can only listen to what you purchased from it or its previews
It plays user libraries just fine, try “import tracks to my library” under the “file” menu.
First, I tried to see the Napster site on my Mac, and it kicked me out. Sure, the software only works on Win 2000 and XP, but not even letting people *see* it or download it? What about the guys who have a Mac, Linux or older Windows machine with DSL and just want to download the app?
Moreover, the UI looks like a straightforward iTunes ripoff to me. The pricing and preview function appear so similar to iTunes that it all seems like an attempt to sell an iTunes clone with the “Napster” name. Everybody seems to be copying from Apple these days.
Everybody seems to be copying from Apple these days.
Good thing they didn’t copy the crappy coding, itunes is dog slow..
First, I tried to see the Napster site on my Mac, and it kicked me out.
There’s really nothing to be seen on Napster’s site. Unless you would like to download it, but why would you? You can’t install it anyway.
The pricing and preview function appear so similar to iTunes that it all seems like an attempt to sell an iTunes clone with the “Napster” name.
Ever considered that the pricing is because of RIAA and the preview is to help selling? (I wouldn’t pay $.99 to anyone without knowing what kind of song it is)? Oh, of course not, they are just copying Apple!
Everybody seems to be copying from Apple these days.
Apple wasn’t the first with the idea of commercial legal song downloading. They were the first in regards of this model, but certainly weren’t the only ones thinking about it the whole time (read most RIAA bashing articles)
When Napster is minimized or in the background doing nothing, it only takes 3-8 MB of RAM (and that’s nice), but when you use it a bit and play a few songs, the RAM usage skyrockets to between 33 and 48 MB.
maybe you were looking at the wrong column in task manager. it’s known that t.m. reports a very small value in the ‘mem. usage’ column for minimized applications. to get a better picture, look at the ‘VM Size’ column (you might have to add it to the table via View/Select Columns…). however, even so, you might not get the correct amount, since w2k (and xp) has serious problems in reporting the amount of memory used by applications.
Just the napster name.
I don’t see it as being a viable business, although itunes is apparently doing ok.
Why would I want to download a song for $0.99 that I download for free and if I like it, I can go out and buy the CD ?
I’ve purchased a whack-load of music in my lifetime so far and downloading pirated tunes hasn’t stopped me from buying CD’s
There’s no way on Gods Green Earth that music piracy can be stopped, it’s become so prevalent that grandmothers are downloading pirated music – it’s become like taping records was before CD’s. Everyone owned records, so they would swap tape recordings of those records with friends.
Downloading/swapping digital music is not really that different – aside from the sheer amount of choice and availability, the social aspect is the same.
How can you hope to stop that ?
Answer: you can’t.
I’ll take iTunes anyday over this napster bunk.
“Ah, ok, I just found one video in the Featured Artists category, for REM. No wonder I haven’t seen it before.”
Actually there is a video now for ColdPlay, Luther Vandross, Mary J.Blidge, REM, Sarah McLachlan, and Sting. So i guess this is not one!!!! isn’t it?
Usually this number changes constantly, according to the period and artist.
“Good thing they didn’t copy the crappy coding, itunes is dog slow.”
No, no this is you computer which is slow!!!!!!
first of all the music comes in wma…. boooooo .. that format sucks…
AAC kicks ass..
plus the iTunes music store hows many features now..
and it does have 30 sec samples of each song, which is very helpful (does napster also have this?)
plus u get a perfect music player.. ESpeacially if u have an iPod(it will be of great use) .. and u get free radio stations..
hmm.. i wonder.. maybe napster is better (NOT)
96 kbit WMA… don’t make me laugh.
own the music – no restrictions.
As far as I can tell, none of these online services provide that.
I’ll stick to buying used CDs. Better quality, I can do what I want, I don’t have to download, I can play in any cd player, I don’t have to buy some expensive gadget to play the music in my car, and so on.
1. They didn’t learn from Apple or the other major players (no subscriptions).
2. Upon installation, the program should ask to import MP3s and WMAs. It took me 5 mins to figure out where I access my music on this app. Oh and BTW, using a ListView widget to access your music sucks in WMP9 and still does in Napster 2. Good God, as only Apple figured this out yet?!?!?!
3. The UI. It’s too store oriented. The user doesn’t want to download a store (web service) application. It should always open up to the library section.
Other than it’s very nice. Fans of eye candy are in for a (trick or) treat.
4. I am in my music library and need to search. I select artist and write the name of the song. BOOM I’M at the store. Pointless and leads to confusing. UI designers should have put a Store icon to indicate it’s intention.
5. No CD Ripping. Still need iTunes or WMP9.
6. In iTunes, I have made a playlist from drag and dropping an old album to the playlist area. And since I don’t like the intro and last track, I can disable them using the small checkbox left of each track name. Napster doesn’t do this.
7. Message boards should be open to everyone. Why do we have a loggin name then?
iTunes has nothing to fear from Napster.
Seems to be there. I didn’t try the other.
As a European iTunes and Napster are unavailable tome, but be sure of this…
I’ll buy music, quite happily, provided the price in the UK is the same as the US price. For years we in the UK have paid far more for music than US citizens do.
Based on this review, I’d prefer iTunes to Napster, it’s already my preferred media player
If iTunes comes to the British market at less than £1 per track I’ll probably stop downloading Mp3s, but if the price is to be held artificially high then… KaZaA will continue to provide my music supplies.
Incidentally, does anyone know if AAC can be converted to Mp3? I don’t file-share ( too little bandwidth ) but prefer not to rely on trusting a service provider to guarantee access to files on my hard drives.
they should be cursed for using the Napster name!
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Kaaza + iTunes == Best Music setup on the net
P2P communities are usually only used to try out music before someone buys the actualy CD(atleats thats how it is for me)
I think the fact that for $9.99 a month, you can download ANY song you want, and they remain there until you stop subscribing is brilliant. I can basically listen to any song I want, when I want, legally, for $10 a month, which a the end of the day is very worth it to me. It beats the radio which doesn’t tend to play what I want, it’s a million times cheaper then actually having to buy the songs (at iTunes, from Napster themselves, etc), and i don’t have the guilt associated with downloading the mp3s from kazaa.
The songs themselves are not 96kbps wma files, they are 128kbps wma files, the 96 is either for the previews, or is just fud.
Also the ability to create cd covers/play lists to print through the player is a brilliant idea NOT “stolen” from Apple. You have a mix tape of 13 random songs, and walla, you have a nice easy list there for you to print.
To Ronald: You can buy music fine with no subscription, so they are offering the best of both worlds.
The songs themselves are not 96kbps wma files, they are 128kbps wma files, the 96 is either for the previews, or is just fud.
FUD? Yeah I was feeling really scared when someone said it was 96k only!!
By Anonymous (IP: —.netcom.no) – Posted on 2003-10-30 13:54:16
FUD? Yeah I was feeling really scared when someone said it was 96k only!! ”
Yeah you scare people away from the store, who think the quality is shit, when you don’t know what you’re talking about…
“Sometimes I think that the RIAA saddles iTMS/Napster2/Buymusic/etc with intentionally unreasonable restrictions so that no one will buy their trash, and then they (or their pet senators/congresspeople) can go “See? We gave them the opportunity to pay for music online, but hardly anyone did – they’re all filthy theives, that’s why we need this new wonderful legislation!” ”
Duh. That sums up the situation every time the government tries to get involved in something. They set it up to fail, and then they impose more taxes and regulations to burden us.
This will be interesting. I have downloaded them both and think that I prefer the iTunes model (a jukebox program with a store) instead of Napsters ( a store with a jukebox).
All in All iTunes is a more complete solution. The gift certificates, and the allowance feature are really nice and open up the itunes store to a wider audience.
Dell/ Musicmatch I think is DOA. The Dell DJ MP3 player may have some legs,but the rest of the ship is doomed. Dell doesn’t have the cool factor needed to push a music service, or the name recognition like Napster.
In the end, I think iTunes will be the top dog. Apples marketing is just to good. Their agreement with AOL and the 100 million song giveaway with Pepsi will put them over the top.
” I think the fact that for $9.99 a month, you can download ANY song you want, and they remain there until you stop subscribing is brilliant. I can basically listen to any song I want, when I want, legally, for $10 a month, which a the end of the day is very worth it to me. It beats the radio which doesn’t tend to play what I want, it’s a million times cheaper then actually having to buy the songs (at iTunes, from Napster themselves, etc), and i don’t have the guilt associated with downloading the mp3s from kazaa. ”
This wouldn’t work for me. In a year’s time you don’t own anything. If you bough the music you would have 120 tunes. If you did this for 5 years you still wouldn’t have anything under the subscription model but if you purchased your music you would have 600 tunes. Either way your both out $10 a month but with the subscrition model you have nada. For more music thats not in my collection I jut listen to internet radio which on iTunes is free.
“This wouldn’t work for me. In a year’s time you don’t own anything. If you bough the music you would have 120 tunes. If you did this for 5 years you still wouldn’t have anything under the subscription model but if you purchased your music you would have 600 tunes. Either way your both out $10 a month but with the subscrition model you have nada. For more music thats not in my collection I jut listen to internet radio which on iTunes is free.”
Of course that’s true, and something you need to consider.
You’re paying for the entertainment, not to own something at the end. I mean when you go and see a movie at a theatre, you pay what 7 or 8 us dollars? And you own nothing, and only get say 3 hours worth of direct entertainment value. But for that same $10, you can get a few hours a day, every day of the months worth of listening value. And for owning 10 tracks that you purchased, sure you can listen to them all month but i bet it gets a bit boring after a while (this will of course offset the longer you keep at it).
I personally go through cycles where for a while I like a certain type of music a lot, and listen to it alot, so lets say having about 50-100 songs of a certain genre will get you through a month without getting horribly bored of it (pulled that number out of my ass btw), with the $10/month you can have that requiste songs in a day if you’d like, and sit and listen to them for a month. If you’re just buying as you go it would take 4-10 months to get there, at which time you’d probably be bored fo the songs you bought the first month or two because they’d be on constant repeat.
I don’t think you should look at as paying 600$ at the end of five years and having nothing, but paying 600$ at the end of five years and listened to a ton of music *WHEN* i wanted.
There are plenty of free music radio stations outside of napster, but NONE that I know of where you can see there play list, and jump forward/backwards on it as you please, so if you catch the last 30 secons of the song, you can say, damn I liked that, and then make the radio station “rewind” and listen to that song again, you can’t do that with itunes.
They both have their ups and downs, I agree that iTunes interface is better(to be fair it’s on it’s what 4th major revision, napster is a few days old), and the fact that it will work on my mac and pc is a boon.
So basically it looks like they have different applications, and as is true with most things, some will like one and some will like the other.
“Ever considered that the pricing is because of RIAA and the preview is to help selling? (I wouldn’t pay $.99 to anyone without knowing what kind of song it is)? Oh, of course not, they are just copying Apple!”
Remember that the RIAA does not set pricing, apple or napster or what have you didnt sit down and talk with the RIAA, they sat down and talked tot he individual record labels, the only the RIAA is around for is to protect the record labels from music theifs thats, it. No more.
how many Linux users do you think would buy music?
I’m a Linux user, and I buy music. What’s your point?
Parden bad grammer in my post, i am not really awake yet I sound like a monkey who got a hold of a keyboard.
I use iTunes to download only 15 songs since it came around for windows but that’s about it. It’s use far for burning cds, ripping my cds to AAC, and listening to the radio stations. I’ve not try out Napster but to be honest I’m not even going to give it a try, nor musicmatch. Now all I need is a iPod so I can listen to my AAC music files while in linux.
“Good thing they didn’t copy the crappy coding, itunes is dog slow..”
iTunes is dang fast on my celeron 1.2 ghz, and as I can tell it uses avg of 20 megs of my ram. I dun know why it would be slow for you seeings none of us knows your computer specs.
I’ve used most of the current music services, including MusicMatch, iTunes, Rhapsody Pressplay and now Napster. In my opinion, Napster 2.0 gives you the most for your money. For those people who “never” want to pay for music, no legal service will ever be good enough.
Since I was a paying Pressplay member, I was switched over to the Napster Beta test in the beginning of October. Of all the services, only Napster and Rhapsody offer full track high quality streaming (if you have a broadband connection) to premium members for the majority of the tracks they offer. From my experience, Napster has a much larger catalog of full streaming tracks than does Rhapsody. Both Napster and Rhapsody have excellent high quality streaming radio stations. Napster allows you to select any tracks in your library and have it automatically create a custom radio station based on those tracks. iTunes and Musicmatch only stream 30 sec clips, although Musicmatch does have good streaming radio (not customizable).
Aside from the unlimited streaming you get with Napster Premium ($9.95 month), you also get unlimited downloads. That is, you can download CD quality tracks to your computer without purchasing them, but they cannot be burned to a CD until purchased. The unpurchased downloads are playable as long as you are a Priemium service member. For purchased tracks, you get unlimted burns to CD, unlimited transfers to a portable device and the tracks to can be copied to three computers. These are pretty much the same rights that are given from all the current services for purchased tracks.
In any case, if you’re serious about trying one of the paid services, give Napster Premium a try. I think you’ll be impressed.
iTunes is OK, but I haven’t purhacased any tunes yet. Napster 2.0, on the other hand is terrible. It took PressPlay’s crappy interface and made it worse! It takes far too long for the fields to populate.
If you want a great pay-to-play experience, then try Rhapsody. PC World chose it as the top serve because it has an excellent interface, and the largest selection of songs. True there is a $9.95 monthly membership fee for now, but the songs are only 79 cents each. They are supposed to be coming out with a subscription-free model soon. Rhapsody should offer free 30-second previews without becoming a member. Anyway, they offer a free 14-day trial, in which you can burn any track you like for 79 cents each. It’s burning engine is NTI-based, so it works, and works well, unlike Roxio crap.
I stopped downloading illegal music years ago– I only download a few songs now and then, to check out whether that new album I like is really worth the 21.99 Euros. I just don’t feel very comfortable anymore with downloading entire albums (okayokay, sometimes I do do my share of p2p… but limited)– and besides, I just *love* diggin’ through some records in a recordstore
So, I kinda was pleased with all this. But, first, iTunes was unusable in the Netherlands/Europe (as usual), and then I ditched my Windows install so I won’t be able to test this Napster 2.0 thing.
It probably doesn’t work in Europe anyway.
I don’t know why any of these servicesdon’t offer higher quality downloads. Somebody mentioned that Napster is 128kbs. 128kb???!!!!! You have to be kidding me. Thats even worse than iTMS, and I wouldn’t buy anything from iTMS because it was so low quality. I realize that bandwidth is an issue for some people (like everybody in the US), but for those of us with fat pipes, why not offer a higher quality version. I can’t stand listening to music where you can easily hear the compression artifacts, so until they up the quality, I will not buy. Used CDs are cheap.
The RecordCos are applying the same cost model to online sales as they are to CD sales.
That means that the $15 CD less distribution, printing, mastering, marketing and other costs leaves the artist with a buck or few.
That 99c online tune minus those costs leaves them with a dime and in many cases with nothing.
These costs don’t even exist for online sales but many companies are still applying them. So when you buy online, just be aware that some artists are getting screwed royally.
Otherwise it’s inferior.
And how many people want the $10 subscription? Not many in the past. It’s pretty much failed in the market. Now maybe that will turn around, but I doubt it. The key problem is that you are tied to the PC.
Honestly, the only advantage I see to the subscription is that for $10, you can try lots of music before you buy.
But there are rumors that the next version of iTunes will have “Listener Loans” where you can download and listen for some period of time for free. If the terms of this are liberal enough (unlimited downloads or high limit, keep for a couple of weeks and re-downloads permitted), it’s going to drive a stake right through the heart of the subscription model.
With todays oodles of memory, just commenting memory usage isn’t very useful. For example, many managed .NET apps will happily gobble memory (so they can run faster, not having to worry about deallocations) until physical memory becomes scarce, when it will run the garbage collector to free as much as it can. Isn’t this much better than just using a small amount of RAM and leaving the rest without purpose?
I completely agree, though you’re wrong when you say Napster’s 128kbps WMA is less than ITMS … ITMS uses 128kbps AAC. I would say 128kbps AAC sounds roughly like 160kbps MP3, which for something I paid for, just isn’t enough.
Unfortunately the mass majority of people who will be using ITMS and Napster won’t care and probably won’t notice. Sad, really.
So far I pump thoes 128 AAC files thrue my 400wat audio system, and sure that might not be high end for some but the songs I get from iTunes sounds dang good. They sound dang good on the iPod as well. I would love to download wavs thoe! But I doubt any service would let you do this. Besides so far I only dl/ed songs that I can’t find in stores and the fact that I would pay 1 or 2 dollars for 2 songs off a CD that if I buy online would cost 13+ is a much better pluse even thoe the music is not top qul.
Actually they say that 128kb AAC files == CD quality. They’re supposed to be better than 192kb mp3 files. I’m not exactly sure how that matches up w/ wma, but I’m pretty sure AAC is better than wma. So really the quality is pretty good. If it were 128kb mp3’s, that would be another story….
If you are not in the United States you could get to the music if you had someone buy gift certificates for you on your behaf. Or you could get an American Credit card or a one time use Credit card.
From official tests, WMA is much lower quality than AAC, MP3, and OGG.
I will stick with iTunes. There is no way I am going to infest my machine with the WMA format. Atleast iTunes is mp4s. Also napster is cluttered and anti user friendly. iTunes is definately streamlined and simple.
Um, I would think that if you were paying 99c/song that was twice the size that the model that they have come up with wouldn’t work? Storage, bandwidth, etc. It could potentially be part of the deal with the lables that they supply only the minimum quality to make sure it’s less attractive to re-rip into MP3 and re-distribute.
My girlfriend downloads from ITMS on her Mac and burns songs to play in her car, but for me even the 128K AAC files are not high enough for my liking. All my CD’s are ripped to MP3 with max quality VBR encoding (basically around 320K for high fidelity stuff). The files are big, but they sound awesome in my car and through my home stereo. I never play CD’s anymore, just ripped songs from my CD collection.
So for me I don’t plan to buy songs from iTunes or Napster until I am given the option of downloading really high quality songs. To the average joe consumer with a crappy stereo, 128K AAC or 128K WMA may sound OK, but for audio enthusiasts it just doesn’t cut it. I can tell the difference between a real CD and 320K MP3 files, but it isn’t enough to stop me taking advantage of MP3’s.
If however Apple (or Napster) allowed me to buy albums online that were encoded in say 320K AAC files (or maybe even 250K or something ;-), I would probably stop buying CD’s and just purchase my music online. Until then when my girlfriend finds music she wants or I find music I want, we buy the CD, rip it to our music collection and play it with the quality we want.
I bought my first piece of music online last night and I thought it worked great. It did have a problem connecting to the service after a while.. Maybe they were busy or upgrading or something. The quality seemed good to me. I think the licensing terms are very fair. You can put it on 3 different computer, unlimited number of digital music players, and unlimited CD burning and you never even have to leave your house… The previews didn’t work too well at my house but that’s because I’m on dial-up(at a friends house they worked great)
I could find whatever songs I dreamed and more important, the links such as “user who download this, download also those stuff”, that’s how I discover “clinic” for exemple.
I miss the articles about new singers, etc….
and yes, i bought some of the music I really enjoyed……
Pfffffffffff, everything else is crap…..
If Napster 2.0 is a P2P software why the companies don’t pay to use our band?
When a download is maded from a another user computer he don’t receives any money for this? I think this is a stupid think to do with our money and internet access.
The P2P payed users are working to made money for music companies.
I really do think it’s time someone in the music industry tried thinking outside the box.
If you’re having a hard time convincing people that a pay/download service is value for money then INCREASE the perceived value of the service. It ain’t like they’re using some hugely overpowered multimedia computer to use the service…is it?
Take a look at DVDs and how much you get with one of those. Behind the scenes shots, interviews, cut scenes, etc etc. Can you seriously tell me that a music album compares (In terms of how much you get) to something like the Gladiator DVD?
How about offering the per track recordings for professionals?
Enjoyed that drum solo? Download it and use it to back your own music.
Different quality and formats (I like my Ogg)?
Interviews with the bands (This is done to death by the music industry already, but a few live interviews might be neat)?
Live concerts (Webcasts of these get done, but not very many)?
Live versions of albums (I mean recordings of concerts here, some people like the “honest” feel)?
I’m sure there’s a whole lot more people can come up with, but my point is that if you’re gonna have someone use your service over the other guy’s service then you have to offer more than the other guy. CDs beat tape because of audio quality. Computers beat CDs with…err…convenience? We’re talking about an industry which happily expects people to stand around for 3 hours in the pouring rain so they can watch a matchstick man 100ft away dance and sing about things he can no longer understand because he has become too damn rich singing those songs. Let’s face it, convenience has never been real high on the agenda for music lovers.
It is “First impressions of…” and not “on.”
And ever considered the market aspect of things – how many Linux users do you think would buy music?
Actually… I think many would. In general, many of the Linux users I know is more likely to buy software than Windows users.
Myself for an example… I have given/paid/donated about $700USD to Linux programs (Zend, CodeWeaver (so I can run Dreamweaver), and other software; and also donations to a lot of projects I like). If I had the possibility I would do the same with music, and many of my Linux-using friends would do that too.
Maybe my hearing is bad. I can easily tell the difference between a CD and MP3. But I can’t tell any difference between CD and AAC downloaded from iTunes. I’ve tested this through my iPod and Sony earbuds, and after burning the songs onto a CD and listening in a parking lot in my Jeep Grand Cherokee LTD. And listening through my stereo with $150 headphones at home.
Again. I can’t tell any difference between CD and AAC from iTunes.
Also, I don’t care about streaming. I take my music with me so Napster is worthless for me.
You must have unbelievable hearing if you can tell the difference between 320kb mp3’s and a CD. Why even rip them to mp3 at that point, you almost might as well just rip them straight to .wav.
To support what I was saying about AAC:
[i]AAC is the powerful audio codec that compresses much more efficiently than older formats like MP3 (still supported by iTunes), while delivering CD-quality sound. In fact, some expert listeners have judged AAC audio files compressed at 128 kilobits per second (kbps) stereo to be virtually indistinguishable from the original uncompressed audio source.
To me at least 128kb AAC or 192kb mp3 is good enough. But I’m not quite an audiophile and I also don’t have a 180gb harddrive.
For those complaining about Napster and its (not real) lack of being able to play other music files you can easily use the plugin for Media Player 9. EAsy to access from the ‘Premium Service’ menu.
Are the WMA files that you download 96kbps or just the ones that you stream?
When you download them, has anyone tried using cooledit (or something similar) to record the output and then save as mp3? (This works great in Rhaposdy!)
Also, anyone know if any of these will work in Linux via Wine, or some other means ?
I’m in Quebec (Canada), and like iTune, Napster2 is only for the good people in USA. What’s the message? Is it that hard to sell music outside the states?
I do buy lots of CD and play them on my Nomad Jukebox3 but for now, I’ll have to stay with the IRC for my, once in a while, music download… More choice, better quality.
WMA at 96kbps? What’s that? If i’m going to pay for my music, I want it to be as good as the CD, so they better switch or at least offer 160kbps soon.
“Also, anyone know if any of these will work in Linux via Wine, or some other means ?”
Wine? dunno… maybe.. if you are lucky. But why the interest
in wine? you can play them nicely with mplayer. You can
even dump them to wav by selecting PCM audio output:
mplayer -ao pcm -aofile outputfile.wav inputfile.wma
Unless, of course, they have some kind of sh** DRM or
encryption.. In which case i’d strongly recommend to
avoid them like the pest and to run as far away from them as possible.
They all do. Thats why they’re using WMA or AAC.
Anybody knows when it will come to Europe?