New York Times writer David Pogue has a piece on legal music downloading services that paints them all as more or less useless — cumbersome interfaces, annoying restrictions, bad DRM schemes, etc. Most won’t let you burn songs to CDs, for example, and some require that you be connected to the service to listen to anything. He’s right, too, at least as far as the services he bothers to cover. From that point of view, it looks very much like the music industry is in trouble — why would I pay and put up with those kinds of limitations when Kazaa is free?
Unfortunately, Pogue misses the one service I’ve been using, Emusic, which has a flat-rate, all-you-can-eat scheme for downloading standard MP3 files to your hard drive. You own ’em once you have them, even if you quit the service. They’re short on “hot new acts,” but they do have plenty of good indy stuff, lots of very cool jazz, and a reasonable pricing scheme. It’s worth checking out. (My one peeve: the MP3 files are 128kb, and there’s no provision for a higher-fidelity version. Still, it beats the other ones hands down.)