I’ve been somewhat of a luddite up until now with my music purchases – almost all of them have been CDs – since I’ve not been a fan of buying downloaded music from iTunes, eMusic, etc. My main gripes with downloads were:
- Typically downloads have been lowish quality lossy formats. I rip all my music lossless for home listening
- Buying music as downloads has often worked out more expensive when buying full albums
- DRM was a show stopper – I don’t want to buy something from Apple and then not be able to play it on some other device in the future
- Inability to download more than once. CDs are a great physical backup
- Not having something tangible, e.g. CD booklets
- The selection on sites like eMusic, which have never had DRM for example, haven’t been a great fit for my music tastes
In the last month or so this has started changing though – I’ve recently bought 5 albums from Apple’s iTunes Store and 4 physical CDs in the same time span. What’s changed? Going through the list from above:
- All iTunes downloads are now 256kbps AAC. This isn’t lossless, but is close enough that with my current kit I’m not going to be able to tell the difference
- Its now a real toss-up as to what’s cheaper – CDs or downloads. Albums on iTunes work out normally at $10. CDs on Amazon range from $6 – $14.
- Apple doesn’t use DRM anymore
- Apple now offers multiple downloads – buy once and download again whenever you want
- The tangibility thing isn’t solved but really I don’t look at my CDs any more once I’ve ripped them and taken a quick browse through the booklet. They’re just gathering dust on my shelves
- The selection on the iTunes Store, at least for my tastes, is extensive
I don’t think I’m a total convert, and still expect to keep buying some CDs for a while (I expect I’ll buy one of the Pink Floyd box sets coming out later this year), but my days of being CD-exclusive are over.