Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

With the iTunes Music Store still not available to us poor limeys, is one of the more widely publicised services out there, along with Tiscali, MSN Music Store and Wannadoo (formerly Freeserve), all of which use OD2’s system.

Coca-cola are running a promotion where around 1 million cans and bottles have codes which can be used to claim 99 credits on the system (which will usually get you one song, although I think a few are more expensive), and yesterday I bought a bottle of Vanilla Coke with a winning code. Note that unlike the Pepsi/iTunes promotion you have to peel the label off and then type the code in on the website – you can’t just tilt the bottle to see if you’ve won :).
Registering is nice and quick and doesn’t ask you too many questions, and although the site is a little slow to load on dial-up (not helped by the flash intro with a skip button that doesn’t appear until the file has fully loaded) it looks good and seems reasonably usable. The site is IE-only, and my SP2 locked-down IE had a few hiccups with regards to popups and automated file downloads, but it didn’t take me long to find the song I wanted – “In The Shadows” by The Rasmus.
All the files are in WMA format, so they will play back in any WMA-compatible player that supports DRM-protected files – Winamp and Windows Media Player are two that I tried but there are many others (sadly not dBpowerAMP and iTunes though). You could burn this file to CD once and copy it to portable players three times, and it will play back indefinitely, but some files have different restrictions – Apple makes it easier by having the same rights (and price) for all files in its store. The WMA format does have its limitations though, and in fact “In The Shadows” demonstrates its rather tinny bass reproduction. The files are all at 128Kbps.
One good feature is that once you have bought the file, you can download it again later – so if your hard disk dies you can recover your bought music later.
Generally I was impressed at the ease of buying music from the service, and while I’d prefer not to have to put up with DRM I will say that I’d possibly use the service again.

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