$10 a month music streams..Pfft!

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Full stream ahead for music at $10 a month was a headline in the Technology section of the Sydney Morning Herald and at first glance I was kind of stoked that Australia had embraced a subscription service for music but my enthusiasm soon waned when I read the fine print. Indeed it was staring me in face in the actual headline – stream does not equal steam. And at $10 a month what a bargain it would’ve been to have a downloadable music subscription service and well, you know what they say, “If it sounds too good to be true, then……”

The catch for the service is that it is merely a streaming service so one doesn’t get to keep the music, which to me is useless and I’m sure others will agree that having a music subscription which is utterly dependant upon an internet connection is a rather limited service. One which might be okay for those that have unlimited bandwidth allocated by their phone carrier on their iPhone (good luck with that!) but for those of us with no mobile internet we’ll be stuck at home with what is probably a crap bit rate music service.  Of course one can easily understand in retrospect that being in Australia automatically translates into the fact that we’ll get jibbed on anything that resembles 21st century technology.

What the Sydney Morning Herald failed to inform the public about in that pathetic piece of journalism (or was it just a paraphrased media release by Sony?) is that overseas subscription services like eMusic let you keep the music in the subscription package. Although at $US95 every 6 months with 35 downloads for example, the cost is more expensive, however the music is yours to transfer, burn or copy to any PC, MP3 player or device you wish without restriction.

Australia is missing out on a bona fide subscription service and we seem to be fed incredible amounts of bullshit by the media about illegal downloads and the ilk but  still the Industry insists on ripping us off! Why is that we get a lame streaming service where the US is permitted a proper subscription service? Why do we pay twice the price for MP3s to that of the US? Why are Australians locked out of content due to stupid licensing restrictions?

I can’t see this subscription service selling very well unless P2P is locked down somehow through the Net Censorship Rudd/Conroy scheme or through successful litigation of iiNet by AFACT. Why should I get a subscription to stream music through Bandit FM (Sony) when I can get the same thing from Last.fm for $3 per month? it makes no sense and I think the likes of Sony should stop trying to rort dollars from the Aussie punter and give us a legitimate service that will make cents rather than stir disillusionment amongst the punters who are looking sorely at the dinosaurs that live by the greed is good ethos of the eighties and who by doing so only promote the open source ethos of free is good that P2P provides.

These smug bastards at Sony must think we’re idiots but surely if they fail to get with the program they’ll most assuredly end up like the dinosaurs…Extinct!

Category : Rants | Blog

emusic – sold out

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Another one bites the dust. What I’m talking about is the selling out of the only online music store where you could get relatively cheap legal music downloads from independent labels. In July emusic is locking out a good portion of the global community from buying a subscription and one can only assume that it came about because they bowed down before their overlord – the Sony BMG media cartel. Apart from now charging extra for less, the new deal is that unless you live in the right country you won’t be able to buy from emusic , although existing customers will be grandfathered onto the the new higher cost plans. Unless you live in the US, Canada or the EU you won’t be able to join this exclusive club to get music that no one else is selling.

On the one hand there is a big push against piracy which is all well and good for media cartels like Sony, but locking out half the world of potential customers could prove costly to independent labels. While they may gain some new customers from the US, Canada and Europe by having the added bonus of Sony’s catalogue amongst the mix, which by the way is restricted to songs older than 2 years, they have essentially lost customers from Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia, India, South America and China who now have no recourse to legally buy from independent labels. Without a legal alternative places like Bit torrent, Usenet, Rapidshare, Megaupload et al will be the first and only point of call. Of course these markets probably have a fraction of the sales and perhaps in some places no sales compared to the large consumer base in the northern hemisphere, but these countries now won’t even be given the chance to pay independent labels. There just isn’t anywhere to purchase the music from.

I can hazard a guess as to why these restrictions are in place. The media cartel has its fingers in the pie all over the globe, with exclusive deals with major corporations, so contractually restrictions need to be placed. Either that or they are just maximising profits by price gouging certain markets. So now emusic has got a new consumer base at the expense of music lovers who want to do the right thing by artists. Hopefully the independent labels will still be able to compete with the new paradigm shift emusic has developed. They possibly face losing customers who aren’t too happy being ripped off by subsidising a deal made with Sony. I for one will probably cancel my subscription purely out of protest to this amalgamation with corporate media. What attracted me to emusic in the first place was that it supported the independent labels and lesser known artists. I could support them by legally buying their music but I certainly don’t want anything to do with Sony, not only because I’ll be restricted from buying anything Sony but because Sony want to be arseholes and lock me out of their cosy deal. So I’ll invariably vote with my wallet and cancel my subscription with emusic once it’s up for renewal. Come January my options will be somewhat limited and more than likely UseNet will get a bigger work out than it presently does.

Category : Rants | Blog

Sound of eMusic

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So much for the economic downturn. I can’t help myself from spending money. I feel I ought to be saving for the looming catastrophe which is sure to come sometime this year, however the ease by which one can spend in the twenty first century is undoubtedly one of the technological wonders that has taken consumerism one step closer to perfection. One can either despise or embrace it. I for one am tempted continually to break out the plastic to purchase things that seem irresistible and all so alluring at the time, before any rational thought can dissuade the urge to gratify the departure of  hard earned coin, let alone examine the motivation behind the escapism of online shopping.

My latest expenditure to leave as rapidly as it came was music, to fill my hard drive space with the bits of data it so craves and I have way too many bytes to even contemplate why I even need so many memory platters – perhaps just for the sake of security or an ill conceived sense of security . I have filled a good part of it with electronica that can be found on the web if one looks hard enough. But my carbon emissions from this excess is a little extreme and I feel torn by the needlessness of it while enjoying the process of accumulating it. Perhaps the old adage of less is more is a truth I have trouble accepting. What it all boils down to is laziness. Hard drives are somewhat easier to manage than DVD, storage wise, but at the same time it is far from a green alternative especially when it is unnecessary. But One has to have a hobby and mine happens to be technology and geekiness. I could just sit around knitting, play sport or some other less sedentary activity but I have taken to the quest of invigorating my mind with the intricacies of technology while tinkering with it.

Well this hobby ain’t a cheap one, the last thing that saw my wallet shrink was the web store at http://www.emusic.com/ and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t stumbled upon it previously. Well I think I had but I recall that it didn’t have the content I was looking for, but searching again last night and I had another look. I was pleasantly surprised to find where all the Metal was!

Forget Bigpond and 7digital. This site kicks ass and it stirs the morbid curiosity of this metal head with thousands of albums to fill the empty platters of hard drive space with. I signed up for a 12 dollar subscription, it only has a subscription service but it appears to be fantastic value compared to the other mentioned sites. I get 30 downloads a month for a US$95 annual subscription fee, so it’ll work roughly as 3 albums a month  for 8 bucks per month. I was paying 8 pounds an album from 7digital so it definitely seems more attractive.

I also get 25 free downloads as an introductory offer, got ten left but I’ve added a couple more albums to my play list. And the best part is; they are DRM free! Can’t go wrong there 🙂

Category : Sight and Sound | Blog