Just spent half an hour surfing through the music store built into iTunes 4, and gotta say, it’s an intoxicating experience — like hanging out at the headphone station at the record store listening to sample tracks, except that the UI responds faster and there are way more albums. Around 200,000 tracks from the Big 5 labels to start with. Initial observations:
A) This changes everything. Someone had to “go big” and make a play for the paid music download proposition, and do it right. That someone may as well be Apple, and sure enough, they’ve done it right. The associative power between artists, genres, tracks, and databases of “what other people bought” is incredibly powerful. Throw in the ability to sample the first 30 seconds of any track and you get a very addictive, shopper-friendly experience (.99/track). In 10 minutes, I decided to purchase the music of Jack Johnson and Diana Krall — two artists I had thought of idly in the past without tasting.
B) Decided to, but couldn’t — a bug in confirmation of billing details for existing .Mac customers made damn sure of that.
C) 200,000 tracks is not really that many, and naturally, my favorite artists are not represented by the Big 5. “Beefheart” turns up nothing. Even artists as significant as Air are nowhere to be found. Similarly, only Radiohead’s lamest album (“OK Computer”) is present. Somehow, it’s more exciting to browse and be excited by the possibilities than it is to search for what you really like. But as a commenter at MacSlash put it:
Are you all retarded? The reason they used the top 5 lables is because they are THE TOP 5 LABELS. This is an opportunity to make money, not appease emo-pop indie geeks.
Exactly. And it’s probably a no-brainer that Apple will at some point offer a submission mechanism for “indie” artists. Meanwhile, it’s about time someone created a simple mechanism for people to get off on quick-n-easy music downloads without simultaneously reaming the very artists they allegedly respect and support. Turn that beat around… got to hear per-CUSSION!
I’ll test the new AAC codec support later.