Sunday, 24 June 2007

Digital Downloads? Are we downloading a poor deal?

Despite the popularity of digital downloads and the ease of the iTunes interface it is the issue of intangibility that predominantly lends me to traditional forms of purchasing music.

Of course when purchasing CDs –as opposed to digital content- we must factor in the time to fill out our address details or perhaps the postage and packaging cost, however isn’t there something to be enjoyed about a tangible collection of music? A collection you and your friends can flick through? Or even lose in a box when you move house only to find some years later?

Digital music, like digital photographs can get forgotten about – starring at you right there on your screen and ultimately destined to a demotion in sub-folder.

In addition one might consider the issue of file corruption, computer thief or merely the time in your life when you update your PC or Mac… will all or part of your investment in digital music be lost? Will your house insurance cover such downloaded content? And how much will this digital collection set you back?

Apple has recently been reported to the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) by the Consumer Association highlighting that the current position of iTunes in the UK is possibly in breach of European law. Under Euro law all consumers in all member states should enjoy the same benefits that the single market brings, however with UK downloads costing anyway upwards of 79p per track whilst in Germany and France the cost is around 67.7p there is of course an uneven playing field. One might think they can simply visit the German or French site, however it one cannot provide an address in each of these countries then I am afraid you will be charged the UK rate.

But for 79p per track, are we not to question the value?

If you want to purchase individual tracks or merely get a taste of a particular album then of course music download site have there merits, but with digital albums in many instances costing the same as the tangible album isn’t it worth getting more for your money, if only for the artwork of the album and a nice protective case….

I look toward my record collection as I write this blog entry wondering if one day I will ever treasure my folders and sub folders that make up my digital collection…. Yet I am not sure I will. But lets hope a decision is reached with regard to EU legislation and prices of UK music downloads including that of iTunes -who are not the only culprits-, so we all get better value for money… and ultimately more music!

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