Saturday, January 12, 2008

music: finally buying unprotected songs

I wrote about our multimedia phone:
The big downside so far is there's no way to play protected music files ... This is why DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) is evil!
I've been jotting down a list of songs I like but not enough to buy the artist's "Greatest Hits" CD. iTunes announced iTunes Plus where you pay $0.30 more to get an unprotected track that plays anywhere; I've been meaning to put my money where my mouth is but the iTunes Store doesn't make it easy to search only for unprotected music.

But Amazon now sells MP3 downloads! Since that's all they sell, there's no will-it, won't-it work uncertainty. They're often cheaper ($0.89) than protected iTunes, let alone iTunes Plus. The quality may not be as good, but these are just pop songs. I'm going through my list:
  • Search Amazon's MP3 Downloads category for artist name
  • buy (Amazon Downloader puts it in iTunes library)
  • search google for lyrics artist name fragment of lyrics, select and copy the lyrics
    Tip: To avoid the ads all over lyric sites, Get Firefox (try FF 3 beta, it's even better!) and install Adblock Plus
  • while the MP3 downloads, search YouTube for the artist and title and watch the music video
  • in iTunes' "Recently Added" playlist, right-click on song, Get Info > Lyrics, paste in lyrics
  • back up your "My Music" folder (c'mon, you know you should)
I don't like having all my music ratings and lyrics tied up in Apple's proprietary iTunes software, so some day I'll switch to a different player than iTunes, maybe Amarok when KDE4 works on Windows.

Folks, your phone plays music files! (A friend got a Sanyo M-1 phone; she was stunned when I dragged a few songs onto it.) As I predicted, everything is a music player now. Digital photo frames, cars, phones, toys... if it's got speakers it'll probably play unprotected MP3 and AAC files.

Electronic downloads are instant gratification candy , but it doesn't feel right. I still have an archaic connection with the physical object of music—I was playing 12-inch 45RPM disco singles from my true library before transferring these 1s and 0s.

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