MSN Launches Online Music in Europe: Itís Music To Many Ears, But Not To Mine

by Egor Kloos Aug 15, 2003

imageMicrosoft has opened up itís own shop in Europe to sell music online. Apple has yet to do this so European Apple fans wait for a ticket into the online music party, feeling like the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Ah come now, you Mac advocates cry. This, again, validates Apple’s move into online music. Apple walks tall among the online music vendors, even though it has a relatively small audience. They have made an impression and will go down in history as the company that cracked it.  Well, I may be a bit funny in the head, but I donít feel like breaking out the firecrackers and celebrating just yet.

Apple users in Europe, and indeed around the world, have always been loyal and we have to put up with more than Apple users in America. Whether itís waiting for the latest Powerbook, or the newest version of Final Cut Pro, non-American Apple users have to have a slightly thicker skin. Since the coming of OS X we have seen great improvement in Appleís ability to release software worldwide simultaneously. But alas iTunes Music Store has yet to deliver the goods because Apple is still groping for the licenses so that they can sell AAC files in Europe.

MSN has been able to do this, and remarkably rapidly. So what gives?

Well the rub lies in the fact that, as usual, Microsoft had somebody else help them strut their stuff. In OD2, a digital music company, they found a willing partner in crime. OD2, after all, has licenses from all the major labels in their back pocket. And Microsoft, I imagine, has them in theirs.

So is this is great news for online music in Europe? Well yes and no. Let me give you a few reasons why not.

Europe is a large continent with many countries that all feel that they are a part of this old and prosperous part of the world. Microsoftís launch, which was deliberately kept low key, only covers United Kingdom, France and Germany. Well that wonít go down well in, for example, Spain or Italy and the Swedes will also feel a little left out. Letís hope Apple does a better job of covering Europe, and personally I think they will.
Also the starting price of a track is more expensive, Ä0.99 euros. Thatís a whopping huge $1,13. Okay, it wonít break the bank but it does put it very close to the cost per track when buying the real thing on a CD album. And apparently in a BBC article Apple claims that the file quality isnít as good as those offered by, for example, Apple. Also, and this is the real kick in the teeth, some tracks will contain strict copy protection a la buymusic.com. Itís left to the copyright holders to control the level of protection. . No wonder OD2 has been able to secure all those licenses.

So itís good that Europe has finally got a strong player in the online music game. But itís a pity that Apple users in Europe have to wait. All the more so because Apple does it a lot better than anybody else. That must be worth the wait, isnít itÖ guys?

Comments

  • I hate copycats.  You think a Mac user would be used to it by now, but no…

    All I have to say is that Apple better hurry it up!  What’s the deal?  The Windows and European versions of the iTMS better come quickly or else Apple is going to miss the boat!

    va1entino had this to say on Aug 15, 2003 Posts: 12
  • No thanks I have Kazaa, Soulseek, imesh, WinMX and 50 other P2P programs you’ve never heard of. Treat me like a criminal and It will be a self fulfilling prophecy.

    hmurchison had this to say on Aug 15, 2003 Posts: 145
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