With buymusic.com Windows PC users can now enjoy a new Internet music download service but -- dare I say unsurprisingly -- without the same level of freedom that customers of Apple's Music Store. Wired titles Lots of Music, and One Big Flaw:
BuyMusic founder Scott Blum called Apple CEO Steve Jobs "a visionary, but he's on the wrong platform."
That is to say I am on the wrong platform, along with a good deal of you, my dear readers, as I reckon about 37% of this site readership are Mac netizens.
Of course the flaw isn't the platform and Windows users will soon find out why by reading carefully Buy Music's terms of sales:
- Only physical persons "resident in the 50 states of the United States of America, exclusive of its commonwealths, territories and possessions" can purchase on the site. Apple's Music Store is likewise presently limited to U.S. citizens but, hold on, "your computer and other Approved Electronic Devices [...] must all be physically located in the United States". That's right, don't even think of bringing that mp3 player on the plane with you!
- "All downloaded music, images, video, artwork, text, software and other copyrightable materials (“Content”) are sublicensed to End Users and not sold, notwithstanding use of the terms “sell,” “purchase,” “order,” or “buy” on the Site or this Agreement." Nice try to redefine what selling and buying means, Buy Music is not about buying music after all.
- "End Users may play the Digital Downloads an unlimited number of times on the same registered personal computer to which the music is downloaded". Contrary to Apple, which authorizes you to upload the music on three computers and transfer those rights to a new machine should you replace one, anything you purchase from Buy Music is linked to one, and only one, computer. Could someone remind us what the lifetime of a Windows PC is nowadays?
- "Different Record Label Companies Permit Different Added Uses Of Their Digital Downloads". Before buying that song, you'd better check if you don't risk prison by transferring it to your mp3 player or burning it on a CD. Apple has a single and consistent licensing scheme that applies on all songs so you don't have to worry.
- Approved Electronic Devices. "[Approved] Portable Devices must support the Windows Media Audio (“WMA”) format [...]. WMAs are not compatible with any Macintosh Operating Systems". No, not that iPod sir. Nope, neither the Windows version. Who said something about being on the wrong platform? Ironical, isn't it, when the iPod is the best selling mp3 player!
But, honestly, I'm neither a U.S. citizen nor a Windows user and Buy Music looks to me like an exemplar monument to mediocrity. So why should I care?
For you reading pleasure, here are a few deserved extra critics that inspired the present billet:
Ars Technica: "the advertising campaign appears to be a total rip off of Apple." They have a good list of flaws.
Textura Design: taking gripe on the iTunes ripoff ads, wishes their marketing team a thousand dotcom deaths.
About their design Ryan notes that a 10-year-old kid who does web pages in his bedroom would know better and that it looks like Snapfish.
The WaSP: Some men you just can't reach, "BuyMusic.com, requires Internet Explorer for Windows. Browser-specific development. How quaint. Did I miss the time-warp back to 1995?"
What Do I Know: "Last night I nearly pulled an Elvis and blew a hole in my TV when a Buymusic.com ad popped up on MTV. [...] Buymusic.com had completely stolen the iTunes campaign - down the smallest detail - and co-opted it as their own.", "[...] launching a public web site that only supports one particular type of browser, and operating system (Mac IE doesn’t work either), is asinine, and astonishingly shortsighted."
Scripty Goddess: "What I can't agree to is bad customer service." She describes five problems she's had with their service and why she won't use it again.
Stereoboy: notes something I missed in additional legal terms: "“we may disclose, sell, trade, or rent your Personally Identifiable Information to others without your consent”.
P.S. one last bit: dontbuymusic.com "Get Wasted" is a funny parody.
I tried to find out who's behind it, but so far, all whois servers I have tried pretend that this domain is available. The domain is registered to Finikin Developers.
P.S. 2: I thought I should share this with Mac users. I did visit buymusic.com with Safari before writing this post. I have the debug menu activated in Safari, which helps me set the User Agent to Windows MSIE 6.0 to trump the site browser sniffer. To activate the debug menu in Safari, execute "defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeDebugMenu 1" in a Terminal window and launch (or restart) Safari. I'm sure I violated several U.S. laws in doing that, and if you try this, you do it at your own risk ;-).