It's Australia Day. There's a good chance many of you are sitting back, beer in hand listening to Triple J's Hottest 100. Others may be listening to Whispering Jack on repeat (It's okay, we've all been there). The point is that music on Australia day is as Australian as Anzac biscuits. Which makes Lifehacker's monstrous study of Australian music availability on iTunes so much more pertinent.
Tagged With digital downloads
Confession: I still buy my music online instead of torrenting it. And after years of enduring an unfulfilling relationship with iTunes, last month I finally broke things off. I headed over to Amazon. I haven't looked back yet.
When HD DVD gave up the ghost a couple of years ago, many pundits claimed that it was merely a battle won for Blu-ray, and that they'd need to man up to face the war with digital downloads. Now in 2010, it's time to take a look at just how well that war is going, and who exactly is winning it here in Australia.
Tim Quirk was the singer of punk-pop outfit Too Much Joy, signed by Warner Bros. in 1990. Now he's an executive at an online music service, giving him insight on digital sales data and just how labels fudge their numbers.
These days it takes a little more effort to push an entire album of music. For some, it's free digital downloads, for Mos Def, it's t-shirts.
Along with its new range of Blu-ray recorders and players, Panasonic were also showing off their new Viera Cast IP technology, which is built into pretty much everything in the new range. It's an IP entertainment solution, and while it's no Netflix or TiVo yet, it has the potential for greatness, if only they can get the right partners on board.
The rumours Sony is working on a PSP2? Pure confusion, says Sony exec John Koller. Rumourmongers are somehow mistaking its push to digital distribution, away from UMD, as work on PSP2. Uh huh.
Since Blu-ray was announced, there's been a lot of talk about its impending obsolescence in the face of digital downloads. Just last week, Samsung took a low blow at the format, predicting its lifespan to be only five years. Sony fired back, claiming that the "Blu-ray format will not only coexist with the networked era, but will actually enhance it for many years to come."
The rumours we heard back in May were true - Sanity has now officially launched its music subscription service, LoadIt, the same service it promised back when Microsoft launched Vista in January 2007. But anybody looking for the future o music consumption should look away fast, otherwise you might sear your eyeballs with the incredible lack of value in Sanity's proposition.
For a start, it's so packed full of restrictions that it makes Cuba look like the centre of the free world. First off, there's the Windows Media association - we knew this was always going to happen, but it essentially means that Mac and Linux users are a no-go. And, of course, anyone who uses an iPod - each song is WMA with DRM, so only Plays For Sure MP3 players will work with this service.
Then there's the track limits. For $29 a month you get - wait for it - the ability to download 300 songs each month. Over time, that's probably not too bad a proposition - 3,600 songs each year isn't terrible value for money. But that first month, when you want to load up your non-iPod MP3 player... You can only grab 300 songs. Worse is that if you do download more than 300, there are excess charges, although what they are isn't spelled out on the LoadIt website. As a point of reference, Napster's subscription service in the US offers unlimited downloads for US$12.95 a month.
And finally, there's the subscription model itself. You pay $29 a month for your music. After a year you might have built up a decent collection. But if you stop paying your subscription fees, all that music will disappear like smoke in the wind, and you'll be left with nothing but a credit card debt and an empty MP3 player.
Digital content makes a lot money—over US$130 billion in sales a year—but most of that actually isn't taxed. Yet! Realising they're leaving vast streams of green untapped, states are getting wise—nine this year have considered digital download taxes, and five of those passed them, for a total of 17 states that tax digital purchases. And don't worry, they're totally coming to a state near you, it's only a matter of time.
Vudu has just been bumped to version 1.5, and the headlining feature should make its way to every video rental setup: Extensions! If you only get halfway through No Country for Old Men (or any other flick) before the 24-hour window is up, you can extend the rental period for a discounted price, US$2 off HD movies and a buck off regular ones. The option is available for a week after the flick expires, and then you have another 30 days to start watching, and 24-48 hours after you hit play. Downside is you can only extend a movie once. Still, awesome and overdue feature.
Netflix's first streaming box is finally here and it's pretty damn brilliant of a set up. First of all, the box is 99 US bucks, and designed by Roku. It's fanless and quiet; has HDMI and optical outputs; and is about the size of 5 CD cases stacked together. Any Netflix disc mailing plan over US$9 gets you unlimited streaming of almost 10,000 titles. Unlimited! 10K titles! Take that Apple TV and VuDu!
Install You boot up the box, set the network to wireless or ethernet connectivity. You get a 5 digit code, head over to netflix.com/activate using a browser on a PC or other device, log into your Netflix account and enter the code. The Roku box gets your queue and the movie/show cover art. There are HDMI and optical connections on top of the standard video outs, but those cables are not included.
Even though there's no love lost between NBC and iTunes, that doesn't mean NBC doesn't love you! At least if you've got an iPhone or iPod touch. They're streaming full episodes of 30 Rock and The Office to iPhones (and touches) in Quicktime, for free, with NO ads. They work, nicely, but the major catch is that if you exit Safari, you've gotta re-DL all over again, and the files are huge, so is this Wi-Fi only, really. This looks weird for NBC, but it's really not.
AU Update: Reader Murty tells us that this is working for him down in South Australia. So start downloading and enjoying some free TV!
Trent Reznor is not only breaking the old distribution model, he's even breaking the newest, like Radiohead's pay-what-you-want: Nine Inch Nails' latest album—The Slip—is 100% free, no payment required in any case, not even when you download the whooping 1.2GB version—which includes high definition WAVE 24/96 files (better-than-CD-quality 24bit 96kHz audio.) You can also choose from high-quality MP3s, FLAC lossless and M4A lossless. Note to record labels: drop dead.