Back in April, Apple announced a deal with EMI that would allow higher quality, DRM-free versions of their songs to be made available through the iTunes store. They said it would happen in May.
True to their word, iTunes Plus was launched today, the last day of May ((Apple Launches iTunes Plus)). Despite that there was no initial announcement regarding the Australian iTunes store, fortunately it was included.
So what is iTunes Plus? Well, it’s the same music plus an extra 128kbps (adding up to 256kpbs) minus the DRM that makes it more difficult than it should be to move from one computer to another. Oh, and it’s also plus an extra 50 cents (Australian store).Eager to upgrade my library I fired up iTunes this morning and discovered that I needed to update it. iTunes 7.2 is needed, presumably because there is a lot of integration of the store with iTunes the application. After updating I had trouble connecting hopefully because everyone else was upgrading their libraries too. Upgrading my library wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. It didn’t hit me in the face quite as much as the complete my album feature does. But I managed to get through to iTunes plus to be greeted with a new set of terms and conditions.
After getting through all that (as far as I recall, the main difference was that iTunes plus purchases exclude some of the restrictions listed in the terms and conditions) I finally saw that I had 8 tracks that could be upgraded. Hopefully more will be available over time.
Unfortunately connectivity issues with the iTunes store prevented me from downloading the files straight away. Fortunately iTunes is fairly fault- tolerant and they are sitting in my download queue.
I haven’t yet run into any roadblocks with the iTunes store DRM yet, but I haven’t had to re-install OS X. You are able to burn tracks to CD, place them on up to five computers and as many iPods as you like. This is obviously a big restriction if you don’t have an iPod. These restrictions are all lifted with iTunes plus.
You may however be interested to know that your full name and email address is apparently embedded into the file ((Apple hides account info in DRM-free music too)). So don’t go putting them up on your favourite P2P network. I wouldn’t be too concerned about this, although some have pointed out that it makes it more difficult to resell. I see it as being somewhat similar to having my name and phone number in a book I bought. The other issue is that people are concerned about people stealing iPods. Personally I think you’ve got bigger problems if someone is stealing your iPod (they can likely steal other things too).
Of course, you aren’t allowed to use tracks from iTunes as a ringer on a mobile phone (even with iTunes Plus, although there is no technical restriction). Personally I hope this condition is just about good taste. It will be interesting to see if this changes when the iPhone is released.