While online music piracy continues to threaten the music business, Apple Computer’s iTunes software program has become a safe and legal way for music lovers to get their fix.
Apple iTunes is a digital music store that allows users to download for a very small fee. Launching their online store last April for just Macintosh customers, Apple expanded their retail outlet in October and opened it up to the Windows world as well. Currently, iTunes software can be downloaded from Apple’s website, www.itunes.com, onto any PC or Macintosh operating system.
The system is different from other online music services in that the cost is not paid per month, but rather per song. Users pay only $.99 per downloaded song, instead of a monthly fee. For college students watching their budgets, the iTunes program offers a more cost effective solution, as music fans can be more selective and are able to purchase single songs, rather than an entire CD in record stores.
“It is a really cool system,” said Quinnipiac senior Spanish major Lisa Boyle. “I like how I only pay for the songs that I want to hear.”
Although you can play the songs straight from your computer through a play list created on the website, the software is made to compliment Apple’s iPod, the top-selling MP3 player on the technology market right now. When you purchase a song from iTunes and your iPod device is plugged into your PC, the song automatically transfers to the device. The downloading process is quick and easy, but there is one drawback.
The songs downloaded from iTunes will play on any other portable device but the iPod. That also goes for any selection bought at another music site such as Napster, Musicmatch, or BuyMusic, where downloads will only play on players attuned to Microsoft Windows Media Audio platform.
“That is the only thing I wish was different,” commented Boyle, who does not own an iPod. “I can’t play these songs in a playlist with other songs downloaded from Kazaa or another site.”
Yet the stand-alone fashion of Apple iTunes doesn’t seem to be preventing people from using it. Over 20 million songs have been downloaded since its start, the most popular being “Toxic” by Britney Spears and “This Love” by Maroon 5. Apple only expects the numbers to grow, with an expected 85 million downloads by June.
To assist in this number, Apple also launched their new marketing campaign during last Sunday’s Super Bowl. Now with the purchase of specially marked 20 oz bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, or Sierra Mist buyers have a 1 in 3 chance of winning a free download from iTunes.
Although some may still not want to have to pay for their downloaded music, iTunes is definitely looking to become the safer and better alternative. “I don’t mind paying, Boyle said. “At least now I don’t have to worry about getting a bad quality song like I might get from Kazaa. I know now that at least I paid $.99 for a complete song and that to me is worth it.”