Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Online Music Round-Up: Part 1

It's been all over the headlines throughout printed and online news sources: iTunes has a competitor and guess who it is: Wal-Mart.

With the adjustment from the ruling bodies on the idea of eliminating DRM (digital rights management) formatted music for most, if not all, online services has allowed for more people to share music and utilize it to the best of their abilities.

A common phrase being thrown around in regards to protection of this music are the words " digitial watermark."  This is really nothing new or dramatic, it's simple code that allows the distributors of the music to know who has purchased the music and who has not.

The competition comes in that now iTunes is beginning to offer DRM-free music, but the majority is still DRM formatted for use only with their product; the iPod. This is for good reason. The fact that Apple has made a fortune off limiting users to only using Apple's music service of iTunes makes it pretty much stupid for Apple to switch to DRM-free music.

Now the actual issue. Wal-Mart is offering DRM-free music that can be used on any mp3 player, besides Apple's iPod and Microsoft's Zune, at a price of 88 cents for a decent quality, edited song. Remember that Wal-Mart does not sell explicit material. Apple is selling their songs on iTunes at $.99 and $1.29, depending on the quality of the compression and what not. Microsoft has been buying companies left and right that will have Zune compatible songs and videos available for prices that range greatly but are competitive with the other two companies.

Now as a consumer, what do you buy?

1. If you are on a budget but still want something that is easy to use and portable, try out any of the many mp3 players available on the market from companies like Roxio. They have a quality product that can play any song you download from Wal-Mart.

2. You want a quality product with a very strong warranty/support program that is guaranteed to have high quality songs of just about every major recording artist ever (excluding Metallica and a few others), buy an iPod of your choice and start loading up your old CD's and downloading songs from iTunes.

3. If you are a die-hard Microsoft techie that loves all things Microsoft and worships the ground that Microsoft calls home, then buy the Zune and use one of the many services they are starting to use for that product.

DO NOT get me wrong on the Zune! I think it's a wonderful product and serves as great competition for Apple's iPod Video design. The quality appears better but it's the whole concept of quality content and variety of content where Apple has the upper hand.

If you are on your computer a lot though, I would highly recommend the online resources of Web 2.0 applications that allow you to create playlists, listen to your favorite songs and share those playlists with your friends. This can and is done by a lot of people throughout the Web and Part II will focus on just that.

Stay tuned, link up, subscribe and let me know your thoughts!

Thanks and have a great day!

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