I’ve been a bit of a hypocrite.
I love – to the point of not being able to live without – my iPod. Without question one of the most significant inventions of my lifetime. Most of you know I love my music and spend untold hours searching for new bands and new music rather than working. Finding something new and good is still exhilarating to me; it can put me in a good mood for days.
Contrary to what you usually read here, I do have good moods.
With the inventions of iPod docking stations (one of which resides on my desk and is cranking out the new, fun, and totally rocking Futureheads right now), music is more accessible, portable and shareable than at any time in our history. This isn’t just a good thing, it’s a great thing.
Sadly, Apple tied the greatest music invention since the amp into their cumbersome, chaotic, over priced and highly corporate iTunes. Simply put, I fucking hate iTunes.
To be clear, I love the concept of an online, digital music store, but iTunes took that idea and corrupted it to the point of uselessness. They plastered digital rights management all over their songs that I still have music I can’t get on my any other iPod without using pirated, third party software. The last time I reimaged my laptop it took me days – fucking days – to get music I had already paid for back onto my iPod. Oh, it was there, but the newly installed iTunes thought it was unlicensed music and refused to sync it back to my iPod.
What? Fuck you, iTunes. I paid for this, I have listened to it hundreds of times, I want it back. How dare you?!!
Granted, it seems like the DRM bullshit is behind us, but iTunes still has its own proprietary music format (M4A) that won’t play on any other music player. Was there something wrong with MP3s, Apple? Of course not, they just wanted to make everyone else miserable by using a technology that only works with their products. Rather than setting an industry standard for digital music, they reinvented the wheel and wreaked havoc. Well done, douchebags.
It’s also confusing that I’m paying the same amount for a digital copy of an album as I do if I walked down to Newbury Comics and bought the physical CD. There is no packaging and transportation costs for the record company, so why am I still paying between ten and fifteen dollars just to download music?
There have also been incidents regarding Apple insisting on existing customers ‘upgrading’ iTunes to the latest version; claiming the update patches some bugs and makes things run smoother. Only the real reason is to disable certain functions they forgot to plug before. For example, if you had an iPhone – one you paid for – and you managed to get it to work on your Verizon network, Apple pushed out a ‘patch’ that basically disabled all networks except AT&T. That’s right. A patch that left your phone useless. Thanks, Apple! I only paid $600 for this and now you’ve ruined it.
I would like to point out that having the iPhone only available for AT&T customers is disturbingly incestuous to begin with, but to purposely fuck over anyone that decided not to follow their rules raises all sorts of ethical questions. It’s not Apple’s iPod or iPhone, it’s yours. They just made it and sold it to you. Imagine if Dell decided it didn’t want Linux running on your computer and sent out a ‘patch’ that made it impossible for anything but Windows to run. Would you be pissed? Would there be worldwide outrage?
Thankfully, I found an alternate and more reliable outlet for my musical trends. It’s called Lala.com and greatly improved how digital music can be used. Not only is every single song completely free of any digital rights handcuffs, but it’s cheaper and uses the proven MP3 format so you can play the tunes on any player you choose. Hell, my CD player recognizes the MP3 format, so I could burn 150 songs and crank it while driving to New Hampshire.
But that’s just the beginning. Lala offers a virtual storage place for all you music. You can upload and store songs so you can access them from any computer anywhere in the world. You can also buy an ‘online’ version of an album for 99 cents instead of seven bucks that will allow you to stream it over your computer.
Even better: they let you listen to all songs, all the way through, one time. No useless thirty second sound bites. One time you can listen to an entire album all the way through. After that you can either buy or just listen to a sample. Unlike some other online music store I could mention. Oh, right. I already have.
Are you sensing where this is going?
My worlds collided in December when I learned Apple bought Lala. Fuck! I tried to talk myself out of any bad things stemming from this takeover, but I’ve been leery and anxious for months.
Today the other shoe kicked me in the face. I received an email from my Lala subscription service that reads ‘Lala will be discontinuing service on May 31, 2010’. Once again, Apple is proudly and loudly giving the music world the middle finger. Rather than incorporating Lala’s ingenuity and flexibility, they’re simply shutting down the competition.
I’m officially depressed.
So I’m asking you all for help. And hope.
Let me know if you have any MP3 or music sites where you can legally listen to and buy music. I’m trying to keep as much money away from Apple as possible and this shut down of Lala is the last straw.
In the meantime, I’ll be drinking away my sorrows and cranking my music in attempt to block out the sadness.
Today’s distraction: Creative use of a water tower in downtown Minneapolis. This faces the new baseball field so I’m really hoping they can program this to go nuts whenever a Twin player hits a home run.