At Last: an Australian iTunes Music Store!

Topic: Arts and Culture 14 years, 1 month ago

It didn’t happen in January and it failed to materialise even when Russell Crowe said it would (in April), but today Apple finally launched the Australian version of the iTunes Music Store.

I bet my friend Jo will be happy about this! She’s been very excited about this… even going as far as to suggest that the iPod nano, Motorola ROKR, and iTunes 6 have all been signs we were about to get our own iTMS. Well, somehow I don’t think Australia is that important — I’m sure these releases would’ve happened even if our entire continent suddenly got sucked up by a giant sea monster a few months ago. But hey, I’m excited too!

I’m far from an Apple fanboy and I’m still a poor student, but I do own an iPod Photo and listen to a good deal of music. So it was with great anticipation tonight that I launched iTunes, browsed to the new Australian iTMS and setting up my my Apple ID as in iTMS account. Sadly, this is where the joy ended.

Limited Catalogue

The first problem with our own iTMS is that the selection of music available is currently hopelessly limited. In particular, I was hoping there would be a good selection of Australian music — this is the stuff I usually find hard to locate through ‘alternative means’.

I understand that not all the record labels are on-board for the launch. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Sony BMG are holding out at the moment. With a music industry the size of ours, leaving out a major record label means leaving out a sizable chunk of local talent. Adding to this problem is the fact that even for the artists who can be found on iTMS.au, often not much of their back catalog is available.

In it’s current state there’s little music I’d be interested in purchasing.

Pricing

The second big problem with our iTMS is the pricing — AUD $1.69 for a song and $16.95 for most albums?! You’ve got to be kidding. Why should we pay a premium over what those in the US pay for their tunes, when the product is exactly the same? Music in Australia has traditionally been expensive, but I’d say a popular album today retails for around $20.00 at places like K-mart and Target. Is the loss of the album packaging and having to accept DRM restrictions worth a mere $4.00 saving? Last time I checked, Dick Smith Powerhouse stores sell many singles for a mere $2.00 too.

Sure, on many days I pay six times the cost of a song in tolls alone, but I just don’t think $1.69 per song is good value. The absolute maximum I would pay for a song (taking into account the convenience of iTMS) would be $1.49 I think.

DRM Restrictions

At least iTMS DRM is still one of the more relaxed varieties available at the moment, with the Australian store offering these rights:

  • unlimited CD burning of songs (burn any playlist up to 7 times)
  • play music on your iPods
  • play music on up to 5 machines (Macs or PCs)

Of course, we still have the restriction of not being able to play any purchased music in any player other than iTunes or an iPod. That’s a shame since I use Winamp with the excellent MEXP plug-in to organise my music library.

Also, while my current DAP is an iPod, I definitely have plans to use Windows XP Media Centre Edition to stream my music to somewhere else in the house in the future.

Ah well, an Australian iTunes Music Store is still something I’m glad we finally have, and I’m sure I might still buy a song or two from there occasionally if I happen to have a song stuck in my head that I want to hear straight away!

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