iTunes upgrade scales back features

Cory Doctorow, ever a good watchdog when it comes to DRM issues, has brought to light that iTunes 4.7.1 reduces your ability to stream music. The five streaming limit is not a problem for me, but that’s not Cory’s point. Cory has shown, time and again, that the real problem is the changeability of the restrictions. If all of the music is DRMed, then there can be increased tightening on the terms until the time comes that all notion of fair use has been erased by technology.

Hey, and AllOfMP3 is still legal!

AllOfMP3.com is legal for now

The beeb is reporting a ‘Legal okay’ for Russian MP3 site.

According to Tass, prosecutors had decided not to pursue with legal action because Russian copyright laws only cover physical media such as CDs or DVDs and not digital files such as MP3s.

Of course, the Russians can always change their laws to cover digital media. I’m not sure that the content owners have the same sway over the Russian government that they do over the US and European governments.

Music labels trying to make more P2P users

Apparently, the music industry is trying to get more people to start using free peer-to-peer networks for their music. That’s the only conclusion one can draw from this: Top music labels try to raise prices for downloads. From a business perspective, trying to figure out what the price sensitivity is makes some amount of sense. However, $0.99 per DRMed song is, in my opinion, about as high as one would want to go. Wired’s frequently cited Long Tail article suggested that even lower prices would be good for a lot of music.

Raising prices on these services will only lead more people to the free networks.

Yes.net: what song is on the radio?

In some ways, it looks like the “search” feature is an afterthought. But, #YES has a cool search feature that’s worth knowing about. Select your local radio station and the time, and you can find out the name and artist of the song that’s playing. Useful thing if you listen to the radio and want to track something down later.

AllOfMP3.com in jeopardy

MP3s for pennies? Russian cops say no | CNET News.com Though AllOfMP3.com has insisted that their licenses are valid based on the laws in Russia, apparently the police are investigating them for copyright infringement. (Found via Engadget.

I’ll reiterate what others have said: the big deal about AllOfMP3 is not the price. The big deal is that you can choose your file format, and get files that you know you can use now and forever. I’d still be an AllOfMP3 shopper at the iTMS price of $0.99 per song.

My Favorite Songs of 2004

I posted my first such list on January 7th of this year. It’s a nice thing to look back on from time to time, so I’m sorry I didn’t start it earlier.

This year was something of a milestone for me. I think this is the first year since 1989 in which I did not buy a single CD. All of the new music I bought this year just came in the form of files. This is not really surprising, since I’ve been ripping my CDs and only listening to MP3s since 2000. My music all came from either iTunes Music Service or AllOfMP3.com.

While some artists may not like single-song sales, being able to purchase individual songs has been great. I’ve bought more music than I have in years, and a wider variety. I did buy a couple of full-albums, but I’ve tended to buy batches of songs.

So, with that preface out of the way, here are my favorite songs of 2004:

  • “Going Under”, Evanescence. I heard this once on the radio last year, but really got into it this year. Radio missed out on this one. It’s a great track! Evanescence had one of my favorites last year, too.
  • “Breaking The Habit”, Linkin Park. LP is also a repeat performer from last year. This is another great cut, and radio didn’t miss out on this one.
  • “Electrical Storm”, “Vertigo”, U2. “Electrical Storm” may not be a new song, but it’s new to me and has an excellent William Orbit production. “Vertigo” is just a great piece of rock. I’m looking forward to hearing more of this album, which I haven’t had a chance to do yet.
  • “Get Low”, “Let’s Go”, “Yeah!”, Lil Jon and friends. OK, so “Yeah!” is credited to Usher and “Let’s Go” goes to Trick Daddy, but we know who the star was. Lil Jon was all over the radio, and these three were my favorites. I’m not as fond of the music I’ve heard from Lil Jon’s new album. I think he’s probably jumped the shark already and 2005 will have distinctly less Lil Jon than 2004 did.
  • “Rest In Pieces”, Saliva
  • “Excuses”, Alanis Morrissette
  • “Nobody’s Home”, “Take Me Away”, “My Happy Ending”, Avril Lavigne. A trio of nicely done rockers. I wasn’t particularly fond of Avril’s stuff on the radio from her first album, but these are good songs. “Take Me Away” was a free iTMS download, and a good one at that!
  • “Let’s Get It Started”, Black Eyed Peas. Why these folks would make a song called “Let’s Get Retarded” is beyond me. But, it’s a fun, poppy song nonetheless. In it’s “Let’s Get It Started” form, it’s a bit less silly.
  • “Encore”, Eminem. “Lose It” wasn’t half the lead single that “Without Me” was. That said, “Encore” makes for a much better followup.
  • “Boulevard of Broken Drams”, Green Day. These guys have progressed mightily since their “Dookie” days.
  • “Harder To Breathe”, Maroon5. “This Love” is good, but not as good.
  • “Scandalous”, Mis-Teeq.
  • “Tilt Ya Head Back”, Nelly & Christian Aguilera. Super-slick production with solid performances from both leads. This is the song that should have been on radio over and over again.
  • “Soul Lover”, Sophie B, Hawkins. I’ve been a huge Sophie fan since Tongues and Tails. I don’t enjoy her new album as much as the previous three, but it still has some good tracks. “Soul Lover” is the best of the bunch, with a big, powerful chorus.

The year’s biggest disappointment for me, without a doubt, is Duran Duran’s new album. It’s been 20 years since they broke in the States, and a decade since their second coming with The Wedding Album. Reconstituted with the original members, you’d think all kinds of interesting stuff would have come along. Instead, we get an album of dreck. Better luck with the next one, guys. (Tip: maybe you should talk to Lil Jon.),

This year’s list has 19 songs, vs. last year’s 9. There could be all sorts of reasons for this: better releases, better availability of legal downloads, etc… whatever the reason may be, I’m happy to have come across so many enjoyable tunes this year.