I knew I had a full-blown music-purchasing problem when I went to "upgrade" my iTunes collection—raising the quality and stripping the pestilential DRM—and the grand total came to an all-or-nothing $250.
That's right. They won't let you choose which stuff you can upgrade. This has been reported already, at least by this guy—and I suppose it's not new news given the fact that they've done upgrades since EMI went DRM-free a while back—but the scope is much greater now that all the labels are on board. After returning from a week of Macworld and CES to the comforts of home, the impact of this has hit me, like the baseball bat I took on the cheekbone back in 1993.
You're snickering. Not about the baseball bat (I hope), but about the whole spending-money-on-iTunes thing. Yep, I am a recovered iTunes DRM-music-buying addict. I still pay for music, but now Amazon is the legitimate source of all my thankfully DRM-free impulse buys.
Last Tuesday's announcement that iTunes would go DRM-free was good news in several ways: Not only might iTunes win me back as a customer, but I also would be able to upgrade the best stuff I bought over the years, so I could have it in high quality, playable not just on my Apple (TM) products, but also on Sonos or BlackBerry or any other fun music-savvy device that comes in and out of my house.
So I clicked "Upgrade To iTunes Plus" and I got a gun to my face saying "$250 or else."
Seriously, they want $250—actually, they want $250.06 but what's a few pennies between lifelong friends?—to upgrade the 1,000+ songs I've bought over the years. That would mean that all those albums I paid $9.99 for would actually cost me $13 in the end. That's the same amount the damn CD would have cost me in the first place, if I still bought those museum pieces. And the CD would have given me the option to rip at higher quality than 256Kbps, and would come with liner notes telling me who played that sick drum solo on Track 12, to boot.
The clincher was this: When I went to click on just the albums I really wanted to update, the "upgrade" price was... full price. WHA?? I clicked on the FAQ, and this is what I saw:
I remembered a similar bulk upgrade offer before, when it was just EMI's content, but as you can imagine, the price they wanted for that was less scary. I must've paid it (probably under the influence of alcohol). I haven't caved this time—not yet at least. I'd be faced with having to explain a $250 iTunes charge to the wife without getting any new music, movies or music videos to show for it. She's a cool person and all, but I wouldn't escape that conversation without some kind of half-accusatory, half-pitying "Oh babe."
Do you see what you're doing to me and to my family, iTunes? I guess you do: You are only the monster the music industry has made you for screwing with their decades-long con. Amazon definitely got the better deal, most likely for appearing harmless—no doubt their inevitable contract renegotiation will be a bitch and a half.
And to those of you out there who steal music instead of buying it, well, frankly, I can totally see why. [iTunes What's New]