Wednesday, May 11, 2011

no thanks, I'm trying to quit

Two (possibly) good reasons to (maybe) stop using iTunes:

Reason #1: Amazon MP3
Amazon MP3 isn't new, it's been around since September 2007 (and it was offering DRM-free songs a year before iTunes). I still buy a great deal of music in a physical format (CD or vinyl or both if I really love it) but sometimes Amazon has great deals I just can't pass up. Every month they have over 100 MP3 albums for $5.00 or less. They have daily deal albums for $3.99, like the new Okkervil River album that I just picked up today. And during their Black Friday weekend sale, Amazon had quite a few great albums (Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem) for only $2.00. Right now, Amazon is having their largest MP3 sale I've ever seen -- over 1,500 MP3 albums for $5.00. It's not crap either: I'm willing to guarantee you'll find something you've been wanting in there. Go see for yourself.

In March, Amazon debuted their new Cloud Player. It's 5 GB of free memory and you can put anything you want on it -- music, files, movies, etc. Granted, 5 GB isn't that much. Additional memory is pretty affordable though -- one dollar per GB per year, available in different tiers, 20 GB, 50 GB, 100 GB, up to 1000 GB of storage. It can get pricey if you plan on uploading your entire music library, but if you don't need your entire library online then it's actually a pretty good deal (myself, I don't anticipate ever needing more than 20 GB of cloud space). And if you're someone who already purchases music from Amazon, your Amazon MP3 purchases don't count against your storage limit (which I realize is a marketing gimmick on Amazon's part, but that doesn't matter to those of us who have been downloading from them for a while now).

Right now the Cloud Player is available on any browser and on Android devices (which makes me want an iPhone less; I'm guessing Apple declined the Amazon MP3/Cloud Player app because they didn't want to give their iPhone users a better deal than iTunes, though I could be wrong since it's not on Blackberry devices yet either).

Reason #2: Google Music Beta
Google Music is similar to Amazon's Cloud Player in that you can upload your music library and stream online via a web browser or Android device (once again, sorry iOS users). It differs from Amazon though, because the uploads are limited by the amount of songs, not actual storage space (you can upload 20,000 songs at any bitrate). And unlike Amazon, you can't purchase MP3s from Google. Right now, Google Music is free (subject to change?) but you need an invite (as with most Google Beta products) before using it (if anyone out there happens to have an extra invite send it to, thanks).

Caveat #1: I'm still using iTunes to manage my iPod. And to listen to a few podcasts. But it stops there. I don't plan on getting rid of my iPod anytime soon (even though it's been pretty clunky lately). It's so much easier to use than my Droid when I'm running, it has a great battery life, and I love being away from my phone for a while. I'm not opposed to Apple products, I just don't care for the Company's overall smugness; it kills whatever brand loyalty I've had for Apple and makes me want to ditch them the second something better comes along. Which, when it comes to downloading music, has effectively happened.

Caveat #2: I try to only download music when I'm not positive I'll end up loving the album. That way I don't spend the full price on a CD or vinyl (this is where the $5.00 Amazon sales come in handy). If I like it enough I usually buy it on CD and/or vinyl, and I try to find it at a local record store before looking for it online. I realize it's redundant to buy the CD when you have the MP3, it's not hard to burn a disc. I guess I'm a bit of snob and don't like burned CDs.


  1. Right there with you, except the part about buying CDs... Nowadays I only buy a CD if it's not available on vinyl, or if it comes with a surround sound DVD.

  2. Sure Mike, if you like overpaying for your music.

  3. That Okkervil River album is pretty good... Shoulda bought it. And I just noticed that there are 5 $5 Okervill albums on Amazon.

    Guess I'll add them to the list...

  4. Have you got your Katy Perry yet?? I'm really excited for album :)

  5. i've long been devoted to purchasing physical cd's and vinyl, but since we've recently been packing up our house to move, i've realized that amassing a collection of mp3-only albums might have been easier on my lumbar region.

  6. Jackie, I'm wondering if I should download it for the two songs I like in hopes of liking others.

    Clint, I know what you mean, I began to regret my physical media habit when I moved at the beginning of the year.

  7. WHAT!? I can't buy the $5.00 mp3s in Canada. That's rough, I thought my Arcade Fire problem was solved. Guess I'll have to suck it up and get the vinyl.