Music Buying Habits

january 8, 2008

I never really bought much music from the iTunes Store. Yes, I have bought singles when I really wanted the song, but usually, I don't buy music from the iTunes Store -- mostly because I like listening to movie scores and the quality of the music sold at the iTunes Store exhibit artifacts (yes, I can hear the difference between a 128kbps AAC and a 256kbps MP3). The iTunes Store's non-DRM AAC files do sound excellent though at 256kbps. Instead of buying music from the iTunes Store, I have been buying CDs from Amazon and then ripping them to get the best quality. Now that Amazon's MP3 store has gone live and I have gotten a chance to buy some music from it, I realize that this is how things are supposed to be for digital music. Even though I love my iPhone and my iPods, I still have other equipment -- like the CD changer in my Lexus -- that play only MP3s (oh, ok and those rascally WMA files too). My Lexus doesn't play AAC and it sure as hell don't play FairPlay "protected" AAC files. So, if I bought non-DRM music from the iTunes Store, I would still have to burn it to a disc and rip it as a MP3. So, if I have a craving for music and I just want to get one song -- or now even an album -- I will look at Amazon first. Not only will Amazon give me the option of being able to buy the music as a non-DRM MP3, but if I can't find it, I can always get it on a CD and rip it when the CD arrives. The catalog at Amazon is not as deep as the one in the iTunes Store. The depth of the iTunes Store is mostly made up of DRM'd music, which I'd have to burn to a disc then rip in order to listen to in the car (more hassle than if I bought a CD from Amazon and ripped it, plus the audio quality still suffers with burning a 128kbps AAC file to a disc then ripping in a different lossy format). Hopefully as labels start to sell music without DRM, they will start to seed Amazon and other online digital music stores with high quality and better priced music in MP3 format -- the format that they should have been selling music in from the beginning.