Rob Pegoraro reviews MusicNow:
- Buying music on the Internet isn’t as easy as you think. You can order a CD with one-click efficiency — but if you want to download a song instead of waiting for a plastic disc to arrive in the mail, you’ll face a maze of fine-print restrictions, enforced by proprietary, sometimes buggy software.
….MusicNow, launched March 26 by Chicago-based FullAudio, could have learned from such predecessors as Listen.com, MusicNet and Pressplay. Instead, it compounds their errors.
MusicNow offers a $4.95-a-month plan that consists of souped-up Internet radio and a $9.95-a-month option that adds unlimited music streams, “conditional downloads” and the ability to buy “permanent downloads” at 99 cents each for copying to music players and CDs.
….Conditional downloads can only be played on a PC signed in to a MusicNow account, and you must also go online periodically to renew the songs’ licenses.
Permanent downloads are touted as yours to keep but aren’t quite: Each one can only be burned to CD twice and transferred to three portable players. And it remains in Windows Media Audio format, incompatible with a lot of digital-music hardware.
Most damning of all, these limits mean purchased tracks will not stay purchased. I burned three songs to a CD Thursday morning, but when I tried to burn them to a second CD that night, MusicNow’s software asked me to cough up another 99 cents each.
Tech support, accessible only via e-mail, replied Friday that it had “reissued the licenses to these tracks”; a spokesman later said the buy-these-songs-again message shouldn’t have appeared until my third copy to CD, but the damage was done…..
He finds Kazaa, though free, is vulnerable due to its own deficiencies, but not until a legit service offers high-quality MP3’s at a reasonable price with no restrictions on usage. Steve? Bill? Bueller?