iTorture and the eMusic Downgrade Saga

Skip to the eMusic downgrade saga.

Hey kids. Guess what time it is? If you guessed that it’s time for another self indulgent rant from el otrops, you’re right! How excited are you?

For various reasons, I’ve never bought music from the iTunes store before. The New Pornographers Christmas EP — which is apparently only available on iTunes — forced me to bite the bullet and gave them my credit card details. The whole buying process went smoothly. Until I tried to play the songs. Apparently, I had to activate the music on my computer. When I did, iTunes informed me that I had activated the songs for 2 computers and could activate them on 3 more. 2 computers? Huh? I just downloaded and played these songs on the same computer. Then I did some quick math: I have another computer at work and Joanne’s computer. After that, I have one slot left before I’m locked out of music that I paid for. And that’s assuming that iTunes doesn’t decide that any of those other computers are actually two computers.

Fortunately, I don’t have to buy music from iTunes. I’ve getting much of my music through eMusic. It’s superb. You pay them a monthly fee and get a certain number of downloads a month. I’ve gone for the 30 downloads for £7.99. Their downloader application is great. It’s pretty similar to the Amazon MP3 downloader if you’ve used that. The music is DRM-free, high-quality (~200kbps) MP3s. They have a pretty wide range of music. They don’t always have everything I want, but I’m pretty sure I won’t have a problem deciding on 30 downloads a month. Most of the bands are on small labels that have nothing to do with the RIAA. I couldn’t ask for more, and I’d definitely recommend it. They even give you 25 free downloads when you sign up.

Update: OK, so maybe eMusic isn’t all that great either. I’m currently playing a super-fun game with them: how many emails does it take to get them to downgrade my account. So far we’re up to three emails, each of which began ‘Please downgrade my account to eMusic Plus Monthly.’ These elicit slightly different version of standard boilerplate text telling me how I can cancel my account. Much further down the page is this gem: ‘To downgrade your account, please reply.’ At this point, I’m mostly amused. I just want to find out if it’s actually possible to downgrade an account. Their FAQ claims that it is, but I don’t believe it.

I’ve just noticed that Matador have chosen to go the “iTunes exclusive” route with the new Yo La Tengo Live EP as well. Really? I guess that’s one Yo La Tengo EP I’m not going to hear, which makes me sad.

Update 2: I’ve noticed a few Google Searches for “downgrade emusic” leading to this post, so I thought I’d let you know what eventually happened. I waited a week, and still didn’t get a real response from eMusic. Frustrated, I downloaded my remaining mp3s and canceled my account. Three days later, I had a response from eMusic support saying that my account had been successfully downgraded. Curious, I tried to log in. Sure enough, eMusic had reactivated my account. I left it at that for about a week and a half, while I considered whether or not to stay with eMusic. Just before the next billing cycle started, I canceled my account again. They haven’t reactivated. From now on, I’ll be getting my music from Insound and Amazon if they ever launch their MP3 program in the UK. And of course, from various local record shops.

T-shirt Love and Podrunning

My brother Mike (a.k.a. Mambrino) has launched a new blog. The new blog is to help him commit to several life-style changes. The goal is to get fighting fit again. He’s tied this into his love of T-shirts, and I’ve been having some fun recommending T-shirts that would make ideal gifts for Mike (you’ll have to read the comments to see the recommendations).

I applaud Mike’s effort, and should make a similar effor. I should definitely avoid the junk food. I tend to be very good about this for around a month. After a month, I find that I’m sneaking a bag of crisps here and a can of Coke there. Coke? Why would I even drink this stuff? I don’t like the company. I don’t really want to support them. And yet, there have been some weeks when I have one every day. That certainly needs to stop. I’m right there with you Mike. No more Coke.

Mike also wants to get to the point where he is running again. Joanne and I have been doing this lately. I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard. One thing that has helped us along has been Podrunner. David, who knows a thing or two about running, introduced us to it. Joanne started using it immediately, but I didn’t. Let’s just say that it’s not the sort of music that I would listen to. Eventually though, I tried it, and found it really helpful. I had been listening to Modest Mouse‘s new album. I absolutely love We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, but there were two problems. The first is that I was tempted to stop running when a song finished. The second was slow songs: I just didn’t keep up the pace. Podrunner helped with both of these issues. I’d definitely recommend trying it, especially if you’re just staring out running. I seem to be able to tune out the music and just focus on the beat (we’re up to 144bmp).

And finally, a shameless plug. Joanne and I will be running a 5k in less than two weeks. Hopefully all our hard work and podrunning will pay off. You can help us out by donating some cash (if you haven’t already), which will go to Trees for Cities.

Can I have some more, please?

Well, it appears that my brother is claiming that he’s not going to write any more posts about his nostalgia for late eighties and early nineties Austin music. I’d just like to say, that I wouldn’t mind if he did. I’ve personally been enjoying the trip down memory lane. I’d love to hear Stick People again to see if the bass is amazing as I remember it being. I’d love to hear Grains of Faith to see if Joe McDermott‘s song writing still holds up. I’m pretty sure that Sea Wall will; it’s one of those songs that I can pretty much play over in my head.

So, I say, “Keep it up, Mambrino!” You’ve got at least one fan. I’m pretty sure you’ve got others as well. Our sister reads your blog, and I have it on good authority that there is a certain waterfowl who is also a regular reader. I suspect that they are both enjoying your recent posts as much as I am.