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June 16, 2004

Inching towards the New Content Distribution Model

So, the iTunes Music Store has launched in the UK, allegedly with 700,000 songs. There are a lot of things missing -- the very first thing I searched for was the Richard Thompson iTunes exclusives, and they're not there. The next dozen bands I looked at had no tracks. They're seriously weak on small-label music, and most music I buy is small-label or even self-produced.

It's not terribly surprising that they don't have much stuff I want. After all, I own much of the stuff I want, and many of the things I don't own are seriously rare. Even if they have 700k tracks, which I don't believe, that's only 50 times the size of my collection -- and I have no interest in at least 95% of popular music. I suspect that for the music I collect, eMusic is a better source than iTunes. Of the albums I chose for my eMu list Ten Best English Roots Music, iTunes has none. I could not have put an adequate list of modern English folk music together from iTunes; they don't sell any.

Eventually I started finding stuff I wanted (for example, I own nothing by the Clash), but ran into other oddities -- eg you can buy The Clash, London Calling or Combat Rock for 8 each, or the Clash/London Calling/Combat Rock box set for 25. Mmm; complete with virtual box and sleevenotes.

There's no wishlist function -- obviously, I want to tag the things we want, go to Fopp & see if I can pick them up for no more than 8, and return to iTMS if I can't. I can make a playlist of 'iTMS wishlist' but it has to be a playlist of tracks; what I want is an album-wise playlist like the eMusic 'Stash' list, of albums I might get round to buying sometime.

The arrow links from iTunes to the store are seriously excellent, though -- even if mostly they come up to links like "Kate Rusby did not match any results; did you mean Nate Pussy?" At least eMusic has thought through this and provides links to 'music like' bands they don't have.

Meanwhile, we've given our vinyl away as part of the Great Tat Clearout and want to pick it what's available on MP3. Some of it's on iTMS, sure, but I'm unsure if I really want DRM-ridden music for this purpose.

So, no, I haven't bought anything yet, but I'm sure I will.

Posted by Alison Scott at June 16, 2004 10:13 AM

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