Walt Mossberg reviews the new music services. He correctly concludes that iTunes is the best (but neglects to point out MusicMatch’s and Napster’s biggest flaw: they don’t support Macs, the platform where 70% of the legal online music-buying is done today). One feature I’d like to see in iTunes is the ability to re-download songs I’ve purchased, a feature Napster has, apparently. And they all should allow me to listen to the entire album several times before I purchase it.
But as impatient as I’ve been in a good download service and as amazed at how well the iTunes store works, I find that I won’t download music from iTunes either. I’d rather pay the extra $5 for a CD and get a higher-quality version, in spite of the fact that the majority of my music-listening is done on my computer or my iPod. The best feature of an online service is that I get the music immediately, but they still can’t beat the free file-sharing services on that. I routinely get music that isn’t even available yet on these services or even available on CD. And file-sharing services give me the best feature of all: I can hear an entire song/album before making my buying decision. I buy much fewer CDs I don’t like these days but buy more total CDs, and that’s good for me and for the music industry.