I love reading all of the rumor sites out there. Spymac, Think Secret, the list goes on. There are so many different “news” sites out there, some more reputable than others. My Mac news mostly comes from a MacSlash feed and a MacCentral feed viewed through Kontent (a Konfabulator widget). These two sites tend to have accurate news. Not so much rumor as actual fact.
This week I saw a news item come through describing a music service through Apple. Links are here and here. Both articles link to the LA Times, which is where the news originally broke. It seems that Apple is working out a deal with the various record labels to provide music to iTunes users.
While other providers out there have similar services, the Mac platform remains (as always) neglected. The rumor is that Apple is filling the void by extending iTunes with consumer-friendly DRM. This is important for two reasons: 1) That Apple has resigned themselves to include DRM in their software under industry pressure. 2) That Apple is going to focus their DRM implementation on the consumer. Both of these are actually good things. If your peers are going to force you to ride on the DRM bandwagon, at least make sure you pick a good seat.
This is where Apple’s creativity in improving technology comes in to play. The iPod is still the nicest MP3 player on the market, it was revolutionary when it came out. Apple can take a product and spin it in such a way to woo the masses. Can they do it again with a music service?
Of course the two biggest concerns are price and selection. If there isn’t any music that anyone wants, it will fail. If the pricing isn’t fair, people will just continue to steal. Hopefully, if this all turns out true, Apple will implement it in such a way that the downloads are easy and inexpensive. I’d like to see something along $10 a month (with maybe a $5 a month discount for .Mac users) for unlimited downloads to your Mac.
Once on your Mac, unlimited plays, just like any other track in your library. To move the tracks to your iPod, no charge. To burn them onto CD, one time charge of $1 per track. This last part I feel is fair. If I went to the store and bought a 15 track CD I wouldn’t be surprised to pay $12-15. The advantage here is that I don’t have to take time out to drive and I don’t get all of those flakey filler tracks that are on so many albums these days.
Now, what would be really nice is if we saw the Rendezvous library sharing feature added to iTunes at the same time. This would allow you to download your secured music to one Mac and share it with others on your network. I’ve been waiting for this feature since Macworld last July. With any luck both of these features (the library sharing and the online music service) will make it into the next iTunes update. It’s always nice to see Apple leading the pack.
Would you pay to download music? What’s a reasonable price?