A lot of people don’t understand the downfalls of buying music from places like iTunes and Yahoo. You see, their music is specially formatted with what is called Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology whose goal is to prevent people from listening to music they do not have rights to. While in concept it is a good idea, in practice, it only hurts the law abiding citizen.
Updated Feb 2009 – Funny that right after I made this post that Apple started to provide an option to buy a more expensive version of songs without DRM. With that said though, I still don’t recommend buying songs through iTunes. The issue here is that the music you download is typically only playable through iTunes and Apple products. This may sound good now while Apple makes decent (but expensive) products but will they always – for the rest of your life — and do you want to rebuy all those songs?-
Music that has DRM technology require the legitimate user to unlock the music when they want to listen to it. There are some limitations though:
- The distributor has the ability to decide what devices you are allowed to listen to music on. If they decide not to support your favorite MP3 player, you’re out of luck. For instance, music you buy from Apple iTunes for the most part can only be played on your Macintosh or Windows computer and an Apple iPod. If you have a different MP3 player you are out of luck.
- The distributor may eventually fail and no longer provide services to unlock your music. Again, if that happens you are out of luck and don’t think it will happen to no name companies – try Microsoft and Yahoo.
As such, you are at the whim of forces out of your control. While in the past, if you bought a CD or cassette, you always new that you would be able to play that music in any CD or cassette device – unfortunately that is no longer the case and to the computer neophyte you may not know until it’s too late and out of luck.
Here’s the good news, some merchants recognize that DRM only hurts the legitimate consumer and has little to no affect on music piracy. As such, they offer DRM Free music. How do you know if the music you are buying is DRM Free? Keep it simple, only buy music in the MP3 format – it is DRM Free.
Looking for a good place to buy music from – I recommend Amazon MP3 Music Service.