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Mp3 music subscription services. a good deal? - music

 

There's a argue Apple Laptop dominates the legal 99-cents-a-download digital music scene: It does it right. Apple's iPods set the style and ease-of-use values that other portable music players must try (so far unsuccessfully) to match. Its iTunes Music Store and iTunes software are just as unparalleled.

Still, as I wrote in a discourse on the Napster To Go subscription service, Apple's path isn't the only one that makes sense.

I keep on an brash iTunes junkie. But an different model - the "portable" music subscription - is developing on me. Now, with the accumulation of RealNetworks Bliss To Go advantage - and exceptionally with the debut this month of Yahoo Music Boundless - I dream it'll grow on others, too.

I did bump into some sour notes with the two services. Yahoo Music is still in "beta" testing, although the more considerable snags in point of fact occurred confidential Rhapsody. But overall, both Yahoo and Real left a easy on the ear impression. Each claims more than 1 million songs in its catalogs - even if they're light on classical. (Apple says iTunes exceeds 1. 5 million tracks. )

I'm guessing that Apple will finally commence a subscription assistance of its own.

Why? Under a subscription or rent-a-tune model, you can listen in to a boatload of music for a lot less loot than on a buy-only download site. And you can carry those tunes in your pocket, via congruent portable digital music players. Business 2,000 songs on iTunes would cost all but 2 grand.

Under Yahoo, you could rent those same tracks for a little of that sum. And you can't beat Yahoo's introductory price of $59. 88 a year, equal to $4. 99 a month. If you desire to go month to month, you'll fork over $6. 99. Subscribers who wish to buy, as a substitute of rent, a few tracks will pay 79 cents each, non-subscribers 99 cents.

At $14. 99 a month, Bliss To Go is costlier than Yahoo but still a bargain, on a per-song charter basis, compared with iTunes. RealNetworks subscribers can buy downloadable songs for 89 cents a pop. Nice touch: Those who don't subscribe can still snoop to 25 full-length "streams" and 25 radio stations a month.

(Napster To Go fetches $14. 95 a month and 99 cents a track. )

As with Napster, there's a catch to Real's and Yahoo's charter plans: You must keep on a paying subscriber, or the songs you've on loan will no longer be playable.

And not remember about transferring Yahoo or Real hire tracks to an iPod. (You can still convey to an iPod songs ripped from CDs and, in Real's case, songs you buy. )

Why rent when you can buy? Aside from the cost savings, you may want to pay attention to amazing on a whim. Maybe you're just inquiring about an emerging artist.

Renting can be complex, though, shiny conflicts over digital rights. You'll have to buy tunes to burn them to a CD. But some songs can't be bought. Others can be streamed but not downloaded. Some can be downloaded but must stay tethered to a PC. And some can be downloaded and moved to a portable device. Got it?

I fancy Yahoo to Real, and not just for the reason that of the lower prices. Yahoo jukebox software (called Yahoo Music Engine) also worked more seamlessly than its Real counterpart. Using both services, I in line music with iRiver H10 and RCA Lyra RD2762 devices, despite the fact that not all tracks ended up on the Lyra. That's because, for now, this model can catch only purchased music, not on loan tracks.

When I downloaded or transferred tracks to a portable device, Yahoo displayed a beneficial eminence bar on the Music Engine broadcast to show the download progress. On Rhapsody, you must visit a break free screen.

Yahoo boasts other sweet touches. Yahoo Music is integrated with Yahoo Messenger. So you can see the music your IM pals are listening to and with authorization snoop along.

You can also explore for members who have akin tastes. Members can check who gets to see their collections. Colonize you admire are called "influencers"; their decidedly rated songs will play on your made to order "LAUNCHcast" radio station. Those who seek your recommendations are deemed "followers. "

There were a few annoyances. Yahoo lets you explore by album, artist, song or member, despite the fact that not all at the same time. When I searched Yahoo for a selection of albums - the soundtrack to the movie Fever Pitch, for case - Yahoo showed a adventure of the album cover and programmed the songs. But there was no way to barrage any of the album tracks. It happens that Yahoo lacks the civil rights to play those songs or to make them obtainable for sale. Still, I felt teased.

I ran into larger anxiety with Rhapsody, at least at first. Real's software kept freezing and roaring on an HP Exhibition area note pad computer. I called Real for help. Disabling a appear in which Ecstasy is assumed to inevitably examination for and import new tracks into your music documentation fixed the problem. But that article is one that many users will want. Real says a fix will be incorporated in the next release.

What's more, if you conclude to buy a track as a Bliss subscriber, good luck figuring out how. I had to call the ballet company to agree on one way: I right-clicked on a song title and then clicked on the menu item "buy track(s). "

Though Ecstasy doesn't have an instant-messaging constituent as Yahoo does, there are ways to share and determine free MP3 music. You can press a share close to announce a playlist on Rhapsody, e-mail that list to contacts or write a blog about the contents. Eagerness can show an instantaneous playlist based on songs you've been listening to.

Microsoft's digital human rights software underpins both Ecstasy and Yahoo Music. So when a little goes wrong with the software, it affects all the music air force at once. When "licenses" on my automaton by hook or by crook became corrupted, charge tracks on Bliss and Yahoo futile to play. I had to reinstall Microsoft's software.

I don't anticipate Apple to slip off the online music throne anytime soon. But Yahoo and Real are at least charitable digital music fans a load to think about.

Mary works in US for a media company, irregularly copy for the leading MP3 music news portal, and drinking too much coffee.


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