I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

iTunes and Ringtones

As I have said many times before here, I enjoy my music through my computer. My Mac. And yes, I have an iPhone which I also use to enjoy music, in addition to using it to take photos, or surf the Web. I think a discussion about my experiences are warranted. Especially so now, I feel I have something to say, with regards to this latest "addition" to the phone, the concept of "ringtones" and buying music online through the iPhone itself. First, the iPhone+iTunes is flawed for a user like me. When I sync the phone, I want iTunes to do some heavy lifting (like it already does with my iPod Shuffle) by re-encoding the tracks I sync on the fly to their lower-resolution cousins. Instead, iTunes does not do this, and I have had to manually create a sub-set of tunes specifically for the phone. This functionality is not necessary with my larger iPods that store data on hard disk drives. With this flaw aside, it is a very nice iPod; in fact, I'd say it's near perfect: it allows me to browse the cover art, change tracks, and sort by composer or by CD. Yes, I cannot use audiophile headphones with an adapter, but... I use it more for casual listening anyhow, waiting for something, at the gym, etc. Small flaw. The news that you will soon be able to buy songs online through the phone ,and at Starbucks locations, is not necessary, but welcome. Why not be able to buy music while you're sipping coffee, with a magazine, work, or just hanging out? (And furthermore, why not use the trusted system iPhone is using to purchase other products?) The idea that the actual song that is playing will be identified on my iPhone is pretty darn cool. Kudos to Apple and Starbucks at making a partnership that seems pretty sophisticated, under the counter. Mind you, I don't purchase many iTunes tracks (I'm fussy and like to buy CDs), but the power to purchase is convenient, for when I do. So, yes, to start: the iPhone gets 4.5 stars from me, and these further developments this past week help cement the iPhone as a solid product that I like. We needn't mention the price drop. Ouch. But the store credit is better than nothing, and will silence my initial shock and disappointment. But I will speak-out against the Ringtones scheme. iTunes doesn't need more bloat by adding a sound editing piece to custom-make your ringtones! And the idea of double-paying for a ringtone? Outrageous, by any stretch of the imagination. I realize they have to do this because the recording industry has convinced someone at some point that artists deserve cash for their songs used as a signal rather than as music to be enjoyed. I don't agree with it. A sound recording is a sound recording. If I can legally play it, then I want to legally play it. So, I was happy to hear of a new "fix" with iTunes that allowed folks to create their own MP4 audio files, and change the extension to ".m4r" to make the audio file a ringtone. iTunes would do the lifting and install it for you. Simple enough, if you have the sophistication of knowing how to edit sound files. I don't necessarily want pre-recorded music on my phone as a ringtone. I might want my own voice, or my own music, or my own sound effects. And Apple's now going to change the software so I can't do this? It seems silly that Apple makes software to allow you to make your own music/audio (Logic, GarageBand, SoundtrackPro), but won't give you the tool to move that audio file to their own phone. We know its technically possible. But now they won't let it happen. Yes, I know, I've read of ways to "make it work again" but their intent is still there. Copyright law does include a provision of protection for the owner against "public performance" of their works; but why isn't a 10 or 15 second ring tone "fair use"? Why is a short clip of music on a phone considered "public performance" when many phones have such lousy speakers to make the ring-sound only audible by a small group of people in a crowded room? Who knows... but I personally find any measures taken my companies to manage how I enjoy my (purchased, legal) media suspect and discouraging.

I have been whipped...

Viaggio Musicale - Il Giardino Armonico