Friday, 15 February 2008
Posted by Dave
Heaven's to Betsy! It seems that common sense seems to be erupting right before our eyes. Play.com yesterday launched a rival download service to iTunes, Napster et al. Nothing unusual there you might think, but completely flying in the face of convention, play's service is actually pretty good.
First and foremost, tracks are DRM-free. Seriously, you just get MP3s that will play on anything. No bullshit. Second, they're good quality. Lowest bitrate seems to be 192kbps with many albums weighing in at 320kbps. Third, the service is easy and fast to use. Within about three minutes of deciding to buy something to show willing, I had Hot Chip's new album down and playing in iTunes.
Best of all, they appear to have a dynamic approach to pricing. Generally, albums seem to come in at about £7.95, but some examples (Pink Floyd's Meddle for example) sell for a frankly ludicrous £3.25. It would be rude not to grab it at that price.
It does have some kinks to iron out however. At the moment, only EMI tracks are available. It also has a strangely non-compelling tendency to link to the CD version of the album when the CD version is 3 quid cheaper (like here). In that case, I'd grab the CD, rip it and spend the three quid I'd saved on a four pack to drink while listening to it. Must try harder there!
Overall though, I think these are the initial teething troubles of what will be a fantastic service. It is certainly a massive step in the right direction certianly.
Well done play.com!