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iTunes plus, I'm gonna need a bigger boat


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29 replies to this topic

#1 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted January 08 2009 - 06:45 AM

$418 to upgrade all my purchased songs to iTunes plus. I didn't realize I had spent $500 in songs there let alone 3-4x that amount =)

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#2 of 30 DaveF

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Posted January 08 2009 - 12:45 PM

So you've got about 1700 songs from iTunes! Wow! I think I have 10. Posted Image

I remain wary of spending much money at iTunes out of concern that in a few years, iPod is out and something else -- that doesn't play iTunes purchases -- is in.

Hrmm...where's the upgrade button... Ah, I found it, hidden in some side menu. $5.40 to upgrade. I've got $0.30 in my account. I need to get some cash in my account Posted Image

And can the new DRM-free songs be played on any DAP?

#3 of 30 Craig S

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Posted January 08 2009 - 01:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
And can the new DRM-free songs be played on any DAP?
Apple uses AAC encoding, which contrary to popular belief is NOT Apple-proprietary, but a follow-on standard to MP3. I won't say support for AAC is universal, but it is pretty widespread - even Zunes will play AAC.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

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* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#4 of 30 ErichH

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Posted January 08 2009 - 03:30 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
$418 to upgrade all my purchased songs to iTunes plus. I didn't realize I had spent $500 in songs there let alone 3-4x that amount =)

Irony = You never purchased the songs, you leased them.
Barring the extra 418, when you make it to that 5th or 6th Mac you'll feel the love (it's no entirely Apple's)
I have a few as well.

#5 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted January 08 2009 - 04:23 PM

I'm well aware of the tradeoffs I made with my 'purchases', and have used things like Hymn to convert many to MP3s. I also knew that if something like iTunes didnt get traction ALL of the stores DRM would eventually be a problem. I saw Apple as the least worst situation and stuck it out.

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#6 of 30 DaveF

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Posted January 08 2009 - 11:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig S
Apple uses AAC encoding, which contrary to popular belief is NOT Apple-proprietary, but a follow-on standard to MP3. I won't say support for AAC is universal, but it is pretty widespread - even Zunes will play AAC.
The Zune can't play iTunes purchased songs, though, right? Only an iPod could play iTMS songs due to DRM (or so I understand). In contrast, MP3s from Amazon can be played anywhere. But the DRM-free songs from Apple can be played by any AAC-capable music player?

I don't want to waste money "upgrading" if I'm still locked to Apple in the long run. (the last set of songs I bought were Amazon, for just this reason)

I looked into Hymn a few months back and it was defunct, as far as I could tell.

#7 of 30 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 08 2009 - 11:49 PM

Hoping you guys can explain this iTunes situation further as I have
not yet even looked at their new format, nor have I ever downloaded
any music through the service (I use Amazon or other high bitrate sources).

A co-worker was talking to me about having to upgrade his iTunes
music ($75 upgrade) in order to be able to transfer his tunes.

Then, I saw this post, and now I am wondering what this iTunes upgrade
is all about.

Also, what is the promised higher bitrate being offered by Apple?
Presently I think Amazon has 250 bitrate. I have been on some sites
that offer 320. If iTunes can match or better Amazon without any
DRM, I might switch to iTunes for my music sources.

Thanks in advance for the information.

Ronald J Epstein
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#8 of 30 Craig S

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Posted January 09 2009 - 03:20 AM

Quote:
The Zune can't play iTunes purchased songs, though, right? Only an iPod could play iTMS songs due to DRM (or so I understand). In contrast, MP3s from Amazon can be played anywhere. But the DRM-free songs from Apple can be played by any AAC-capable music player?
True - the Zune can't play iTunes purchased songs that are DRM-encoded, which is anything that doesn't have the iTunes Plus moniker. iTunes Plus songs are 256 bit AAC encodes with no DRM, and these can be played on any device that plays AAC.

Ron, the iTunes upgrade deal is for folks who have previously purchased regular iTunes music that was DRM'd (these were all 128-bit encodes). For 30 cents a tune, Apple will upgrade these to the iTunes Plus format (no DRM, 256-bit encodes). This is a pretty good deal (I've taken advantage of it for the 40+ songs I had purchased), but since you've never bought anything from the iTunes store, it doesn't apply to you.

The new iTunes Plus bitrate (available on many songs now, and on ALL by April) is 256, which matches that of Amazon. So at that point it becomes a matter of price-shopping between iTunes & Amazon. Right now Amazon beats iTunes on price over 90% of the time. When the new 69 cent rate (which is exoected to be used for older songs) kicks in, that ratio may well change.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#9 of 30 DaveF

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Posted January 09 2009 - 03:37 AM

Craig, thanks for the clarifications. Does this mean there's no longer a 5-computer authorization limit for listening to purchased iTunes music?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig S
The new iTunes Plus bitrate (available on many songs now, and on ALL by April) is 256, which matches that of Amazon. So at that point it becomes a matter of price-shopping between iTunes & Amazon. Right now Amazon beats iTunes on price over 90% of the time. When the new 69 cent rate (which is exoected to be used for older songs) kicks in, that ratio may well change.
My understanding is that AAC (and also WMA) is more efficient than MP3, so a 256kbps AAC (or WMA) song should be better quality than 256 kbps MP3. How much, I can't say. And this is my eperience: on a Windows machine, I think CDs ripped and encoded as WMA sound better than equivalent bitrate MP3.

#10 of 30 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 09 2009 - 07:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
Hoping you guys can explain this iTunes situation further as I have
not yet even looked at their new format, nor have I ever downloaded
any music through the service (I use Amazon or other high bitrate sources).

A co-worker was talking to me about having to upgrade his iTunes
music ($75 upgrade) in order to be able to transfer his tunes.

Then, I saw this post, and now I am wondering what this iTunes upgrade
is all about.
In the beginning, all iTunes music was offered for 99¢ at 128kbps in Apple's proprietary M4P format. On May 29, 2007 EMI began offering their songs in an "iTunes Plus" format: DRM-free AAC encoded files at 256kbps. These songs were originally offered at $1.29 a song; to "upgrade", you had the option of paying the 30¢ difference between the original cost and the premium cost. As competition heated up with Amazon, iTunes plus tracks were dropped back to 99¢—but the upgrade cost stayed.
So if Apple is telling Sam that it would cost $418 to upgrade his library, that means he has just shy of 1,400 songs.
Quote:
Also, what is the promised higher bitrate being offered by Apple?
Presently I think Amazon has 250 bitrate. I have been on some sites
that offer 320. If iTunes can match or better Amazon without any
DRM, I might switch to iTunes for my music sources.
Both Amazon and iTunes encode songs at 256kbps. However Amazon MP3 offers songs in the MP3 format, at a variable bitrate (meaning the average bitrate may be marginally higher or lower than 256) while iTunes uses the more efficient AAC format. Amazon's MP3 are encoded with the LAME codec (my personal favorite) and the overall quality is roughly the same, with the edge probably going to iTunes Plus.
You can tell which songs are iTunes Plus by looking for the grey and white "+" sign in the iTunes Store.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
Craig, thanks for the clarifications. Does this mean there's no longer a 5-computer authorization limit for listening to purchased iTunes music?
Well, eight million songs went DRM-free on the day of the announcement, but there are still two million or so that will remain DRMed until the new price structure goes into effect later this year. Once that happens, authorization for music shouldn't be an issue. However, authorization will still be a part of iTunes, because all music videos, TV shows, and movies are still sold with DRM.
Quote:
My understanding is that AAC (and also WMA) is more efficient than MP3, so a 256kbps AAC (or WMA) song should be better quality than 256 kbps MP3. How much, I can't say. And this is my eperience: on a Windows machine, I think CDs ripped and encoded as WMA sound better than equivalent bitrate MP3.
I've never liked the sound of WMA, probably because most audio encoded in the format is encoded at very low bitrates. AAC is marginally more efficient than MP3, but the biggest difference is at the fringe frequencies. One of the ways that MP3 keeps file sizes down is that it either compresses the hell out of the ultra high and low frequencies or eliminates them all together. As far as I know, AAC doesn't do that. At 320 kbps, I can't tell the difference between AAC and MP3. Up until now, I've been buying iTunes Plus songs on iTunes and the rest as DRM-free MP3s on Amazon. Particularly because iTunes was performing very poorly (until I quadrupled my memory at Christmas), I've been wary of locking into any closed format. WinAmp or any number of other jukebox programs play AAC at least as well as iTunes.

#11 of 30 DaveF

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Posted January 09 2009 - 08:26 AM

Good summary, Adam.

With music going DRM free, I think I'll be more likely bo buy music online. Until now, it was a no brainer for me to keep buying CDs based on price, quality, and media longevity. But with 256 kbps, DRM-free music at about $0.99/song, price and quality are closer to equal and convenience starts becoming important to me.

And since I hate comparison shopping on $1 items (waste of my time), I was put off having to bounce between Amazon and iTunes juggling quality, freedom, and price. But a DRM-free, 256 kbps iTMS means I can be brand loyal and not waste time comparison shopping on dollar store purchases Posted Image

#12 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted January 09 2009 - 08:43 AM

Oh I'm still going to be an Amazon > iTunes consumer just for mp3 convenience, as it is a lot easier to get those to the PS3, 360 and other future devices. Honestly it boggles my mind that so many people are so fiercely loyal on the quality differences, they are minimal, more minimal than the surround sound format differences IMO. But yeah it says that I have about 1300 or so unconverted songs, and add to that the ones from EMI I already converted in the past when those were offered.

Just goes to show that Apples recommendation engine really works well because that is where I got 90% of my purchase ideas from. I'd go for a song I didnt have on CD and apple would recommend 20 more on their front page that were like those I purchased. The genius feature is like that on steroids.

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#13 of 30 Ken Chan

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Posted January 09 2009 - 08:58 AM

Quote:
authorization will still be a part of iTunes, because all music videos, TV shows, and movies are still sold with DRM
Music videos will be DRM-free; 60 cents to upgrade. (Not that logic has anything to do with it, but it would be consistent if the music labels have decided to ditch DRM, while the TV/movie studios have not.)

#14 of 30 DaveF

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Posted January 09 2009 - 10:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Honestly it boggles my mind that so many people are so fiercely loyal on the quality differences, they are minimal, more minimal than the surround sound format differences IMO.
No doubt many people are brand loyal because of marketing, "cool", emotional aspects -- people pick their tribe and fiercely defend it, be it Apple, the Yankees, or Vanilla vs. Chocolate ice cream Posted Image

But to me it's OS X compared to Windows type of usability in preferring iTunes over Amazon.

#15 of 30 pitchman

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Posted January 10 2009 - 02:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Oh I'm still going to be an Amazon > iTunes consumer just for mp3 convenience, as it is a lot easier to get those to the PS3, 360 and other future devices.
Doesn't the PS3 support AAC? I am still a CD guy (old habits die hard) so some of this is foreign to me, but I am almost positive that there is an AAC audio setting on the PS3.

Getting back to the main discussion... What is a bit strange to me here is that although I have two iPods (an 80 gig Classic and an 8 gig Touch) the ONLY iTunes store purchase I have ever made is 99 cents for the Aquaman pilot. I do on occasion snag a "free on iTunes" item but otherwise, I just load in music and such from my own personal library. Obviously, I am NOT the person Apple had in mind when they were conceiving their "ideal" iPod/iTunes customer! Posted Image
Gary

#16 of 30 ErichH

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Posted January 10 2009 - 03:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by pitchman
Obviously, I am NOT the person Apple had in mind when they were conceiving their "ideal" iPod/iTunes customer! Posted Image

Sounds like a good policy

#17 of 30 Sam Posten

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Posted January 10 2009 - 04:56 AM

Well yeah, since I'm the idiot who bought over $1k of music without knowing it over the last 6 years I guess I'm just their target =)

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#18 of 30 Will_B

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Posted January 10 2009 - 12:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Honestly it boggles my mind that so many people are so fiercely loyal on the quality differences, they are minimal, more minimal than the surround sound format differences IMO.


Well, AAC isn't simply slightly better than mp3 in sound quality alone -- it also corrected some of the problems with mp3s. For instance, mp3s accidentally create a very tiny "pop" sound in between songs on gapless albums (like some of Pink Floyds' albums). When they developed AAC, they fixed that.

So I figure, why not go with the format that was improved? I won't say no to mp3s, but, if given a choice...
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#19 of 30 ErichH

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Posted January 13 2009 - 04:26 AM

A Little Salt for the wound - TechBlog: iTunes Plus: We know who you are and where to find you

#20 of 30 Will_B

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Posted January 13 2009 - 07:03 AM

So if out of a million people, one of them likes to buy songs from iTunes and then torrent them, that one person will have salt in their wound? Seems ok to me.

The bigger problem is that if you're a teenager with a silly email address like "bigdick@hotmail", then that is the email address that is embedded in your music for life. Like a bad tattoo!

I guess the one possible situation in which having one's name and email address embedded in your music could be problematic (problematic to practically everyone) is if the iTunes Genius starts to examine that info, and then starts saying "Hey, we noticed that you suddenly have a thousand songs from your housemate in your iTunes folder. How did that happen?". But there's no indication they'll be doing that -- all the press says it is a way to make sure people don't share the music to the planet. There are some anecdotal reports that trying to edit these tags will cause the songs not to play, but that might simply be that the files are being corrupted when people edit them, rather than an intentional effort on the part of Apple to make sure that no one ever makes a mix-tape for their girlfriend ever again.
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