First impressions of iTunes Plus

by Giles Turnbull


So here it is, my first DRM-free purchase from the iTunes Store. A copy of “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie, from his fantastic album “Hunky Dory”.

Why did I buy it? I already own this album, but I bought it in the mid-80s, so my copy is on an old cassette. It still plays just fine on my tape deck, but I just don’t have the time or the inclination to go through the hassle of digitizing all my tapes (I have a lot of tapes). I’m happy to buy things again on CD, and I’m also happy to buy them online - just so long as I don’t have to be tied to DRM.

And along comes iTunes Plus and takes the DRM away. I bought this digital version so I can have it on my computer and my iPod, and I don’t have to worry about Authorizing various computers. I have a digital copy of the song that I own, and I can do whatever I like with it (within the limits of the law, of course). I much prefer this to the old DRM-laden way of doing things. I shall be purchasing some more, I think. Next stop: “Dark Side of the Moon”.

But for me, the most interesting thing I’ve noticed since the iTunes Plus announcement is the songs I’ve not purchased. I heard two songs on the radio this morning (“The World is Outside” by Ghosts, and “Beautiful Liar (Freemasons Radio Mix)” by Beyonce & Shakira) that I would have purchased immediately had they been available via iTunes Plus. But neither of them are.

Not yet.


2007-05-31 08:22:05
DRM free but not untraceable. Although, according to this article:

not entirely reliable either.... I suppose DRM-free music is a start and at least gives you proper ownership of your purchases!

Ben Brophy
2007-05-31 09:38:58
I've decided not to buy a few things b/c they aren't iTunes Plus, as well. I can't wait tot get all the 'AAC Protected' tags out of my library.
Erica Sadun
2007-05-31 10:37:56
I've been trying to upgrade "Life on Mars?" since yesterday, but the store will not acknowledge it as an upgradable item.
2007-05-31 11:00:17
Accepted the offer to upgrade all my EMI-Stuff.
3 Albums and 10 single Songs. Takes forever for some titles, upgrading since 6 hours and many "unknown errors". Restarting iTunes does nit help, Servers seem very busy.
2007-05-31 12:00:36
I had some 48 songs that were upgradable and I immediately did. But I totally agree about the songs not purchased thing. I don't think I will buy anything on iTunes that is not iTunes Plus from now on.
Mike ES
2007-05-31 13:48:20
"... upgrading since 6 hours and many 'unknown errors'."

That's nothing. I bought an album (Leif Ove Andsnes - Horizons) about 24 hours ago, but iTunes is still holding on to a couple of tracks. Every time I restart the program it asks to go back to the iTunes Store, but the last few remaining bytes never arrive and eventually it drops out with a 9006 error (whatever that is).

I daresay the traffic will fall off--or whatever else is the problem will be sorted out in time--but right now I wish I'd never started.

2007-05-31 15:08:14
By way of an update to the post, I feel obliged to share this little extra snippet with everyone.

This evening I found myself listening to another old cassette tape - "Duke" by Genesis. Towards the end of side one (yes, younger readers: albums used to have "sides" and you used to have to *turn them over* half-way through), I heard an ominous squeaking noise from the cassette deck. After a few seconds it got louder, and drowned out the music.

In the past, I'd have sighed and immediately gone to Amazon to get a replacement CD - but I didn't this evening. Instead, my first thought was iTunes Plus, and indeed "Duke" is available there. So I bought it. Again, without much hesitation.

The point is this: in the last 24 hours, iTunes Plus has taken more money from me than the iTunes Music Store ever did in the years since it opened for business.

2007-05-31 15:24:02
... errr why not buy them... then maybe the comaony that controls the rights will wake up and release them as DRM free. Instead you don't buy them and who wins? Not you. Not Apple... Maybe the CD manufacturers..
Why nt buy from iTunes and when the DRM free version comes you can download the new version for the same amout you would have paid if youo had waited for the DRM free version...
Pete Hummers
2007-05-31 15:55:21
From the Electronic Freedom Foundation: "A couple of recent posts on Ars Technica and TUAW pointed out that Apple is embedding personal information, such as the name and email address of the purchaser, in all of their AAC files (including the DRM-free ones). We got curious, and wondered whether Apple might also be watermarking the underlying audio data in these tracks." More at

Mike ES
2007-06-01 06:19:11
"The point is this: in the last 24 hours, iTunes Plus has taken more money from me than the iTunes Music Store ever did in the years since it opened for business."

That's interesting, Giles. Same here. I've only bought one so far, but that's more than I've ever bought there before. The numbers on this will be interesting if and when we hera them, but I reckon EMI are doing good business at the iTunes Store. I hope so, too, since that will be an inducement to the other labels.