Andrew Leonard has an article in Salon [subscription required; or do you just have look at some ads to see it? I don’t know, I subscribed] on the experience of a Windows user, whose music collection is in Windows Media Audio format, struggling to switch over to iTunes– whose music store uses a different file format, AAC. As he succinctly puts it,
iTunes won’t play my Windows Media music files. And the Windows Media Player won’t play songs purchased from the iTunes store.
That’s not the future I want to pay for. In the 21st century era of late capitalism, the consumer is supposed to be king — my every desire is supposed to be reflected by marketplace offerings. Instead, the market is ordering me to get Steve Jobs’ smirking grin tattooed on my butt, and while that may be an improvement on being branded with a Microsoft iron, I’d still rather keep my skin as it started, unblemished.
I can understand his concerns. I’ve only bought two entire albums off the Apple Music Store, in part because I’ve been shopping for singles– things from artists whose entire albums I would never be interested in buying– but also as a tiny bit of an insurance policy. For now, at least, owning the CD means having greater control over the file format it’s ripped into. I no longer listen to CDs, but value them for the freedom to convert them into MP3s, or WMAs, or whatever I want.