With the start of mp3tunes.com, I thought I should give it a try. I've used iTunes Music Service a couple times. I think I confused Apple with Google and thought they had a don't be evil motto. Not that they have a be evil motto, but they don't have anywhere near the kind of respect for their customers that Google shows. Visual design isn't the same thing as respect. In this case I was burned with my iTMS purchases -- for some reason I lost my authorization and couldn't burn the audio to disk, and of course I can't play their encrypted songs on Linux (it is possible to play m4a's, but not easy, and certainly not encrypted AAC files). And I couldn't get the Hymn to work either. But really that was just a last attempt to steal back the music their DRM stole from me -- I already knew I wasn't going to sink any more money into a service that found me guilty of copyright infringement until I proved innocent. And they simply offer no value over actual CDs -- they cost the same if you consider that you don't get as much product (no actual CD, no liner notes). The only benefit is being able to buy individual songs, but I generally like albums anyway.
I've been using allofmp3.com some, and talked about that before. Their prices are great (even if they did go up recently), the site is workable, the payment system sometimes a little indirect (but always secure), the audio formats just about ideal for anyone, their collection of music is incomplete and quirky (it's got to be the best Frank Zappa collection available online anywhere!), and the legality is somewhat questionable.
So I like them, I don't feel bad about using them. But there's a lot of music I can't get there, and I feel a little funny linking to them if I refer to a musician or CD -- I know I'm not really supporting the musicians, and they deserve support. When Metallica gets in a huff my utilitarian ethic doesn't give me much sympathy for them. But Metallica is hardly representative of the kind of musicians I like.
Anyway, I'm happy mp3tunes offers another alternative, one where neither artists nor I am deprived. For my first purchase I got Regina Spektor, who I heard on NPR (listening to her again, she sounds a lot like Fiona Apple).
My review of the site:
I think it's important to support this effort -- not so much for freedom (it's not CC-licensed works or anything) but simply setting a standard of reasonable consumer rights. DRM is simply unacceptable.
Ian, it appears the days of allofmp3 may be numbered.
Unfortunately, it looks as though allofmp3 may not have always been compensating artists, although it's all very uncertain and they probably couldn't have compensated artists if they tried, because that would have nullified the RIAA's legal excuse to sue them.