MusicMatch’s usage rights almost as liberal as Apple’s iTunes Music Store’s

“An online digital music service debuted Monday offering 99-cent song downloads and the fewest restrictions yet on how often customers may copy song files onto CDs and other devices of any licensed service for use on Microsoft Windows-run PCs,” Alex Veiga reports for The Associated Press. “The MusicMatch Downloads service, from San Diego-based software maker MusicMatch Inc., benefits from the sort of generous music licensing rights previously only granted by the top five recording companies to Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes Music Store.”

“Apple’s Macintosh computers make up only about 3 percent of the PC market, however, so more than 90 percent of PC users have not been able to use iTunes,” Veiga reports. “Like iTunes, MusicMatch customers can copy the songs they buy to up to three PCs at any one time and can transfer the song files to digital music devices capable of playing Windows Media Audio files. MusicMatch users won’t have to subscribe or pay extra fees to transfer songs to other devices. Individual songs may also be burned or copied to CDs without restriction, although CDs with the same order of songs can only be burned five times to prevent pirates from churning out scores of full copies. iTunes allows up to 10 CDs to be burned with the same playlist.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What this likely means is that Apple’s iTunes Music Store’s debut on the Windows platform (coming soon?) will carry the same liberal usage rights (or very similar to) as iTMS for Macintosh. We wonder if the 10 CD vs. 5 CD burns will be a distinguishing feature between iTMS Mac vs. iTMS Win, or if Apple can wrangle 10 CD burns for iTMS Win, or if Apple will scale back iTMS Mac to 5 CD burns? The last possibility seems the longest shot to us and it would make sense for Apple to keep the Mac version just a little better than the Windows version for the benefit of Mac sales, if they can’t get The Big Five music houses to go for 10 CD burns. iPod AAC compatibility would be a main selling point for iTMS Windows vs. MusicMatch and it’s rebranded offspring coming down the pike from the likes of Wintel box assembler Dell.


  1. If you had read the article before you posted, you might have caught:

    “…up to up to three PCs at any one time…”

    Which implies that they will be able to transfer the music.

  2. A 3-minute 160kbps WMA song is the same file size as a 3-minute 160kbps MP3 song and a 3-minute 160kbps AAC (MP4) song. But which sounds best? I’d like to assume AAC.

  3. I wish Apple would add .oog support for iTunes and the iPod. Since .mp3 is supported already, and Apple is doing the dance with open standards, it should be a given. And it would make an argument that iTunes/iPod is better than the Dell Digital Jukebox/MusicMatch/WMA combination if not in quality or FairPlay.

  4. A 3-minute 160kbps WMA song is the same file size as a 3-minute 160kbps MP3 song and a 3-minute 160kbps AAC (MP4) song. But which sounds best? I’d like to assume AAC.

    C’t had a codec test, which you may find on the net I think. Two things to note. One: the encoder is very important. AAC gets a pretty low rating in the C’T test, but that was before Apple introduced AAC encoding in Quicktime. Later tests between different AAC encoders showed that Apples encoder was allot better than the other AAC encoders.

    Two: the results showed that anything sounded better than MP3, but that it was hard for amateurs to hear what was actually better within the set of “second generation” music encodings, when you start with bitrates of 128 or more. I suspect AAC and WMA will have pretty much the same quality. Most people preferred ogg/vorbis afaik.

    I don’t think that the quality of AAC/WMA will be the deciding factor. Device/software compatibility, marketing, usage rights, wether or not the software was installed by default,.. will be more important factors in this battle.

  5. AAC and WMA are supposedly similar in quality (unless you ask Microsoft), but in reality, an Apple AAC-encoded song sounds much better to the human ear at the same bit-rate as the Microsoft-created WMA formatted song. Remember, Sony and Dolby came up with AAC. Seems to have a better rep right off the bat than something coming out of Redmond, eh?

    Many independent analyses have shown AAC to be superior in all areas of sound quality than WMA. Similarly, Microsoft-sponsored “independent” studies have shown WMA to be far superior. Who ya gonna believe?

    This MusicMash JokeBox store will only be successful if it is as simple, flexible, and integrated as the iTunes Music Store. Considering the shoddy nature of the underlying product, I find that very unlikely.

  6. Since Apple already has a relationship with MusicMatch, in fact shipping it with the iPod, why did they not just work out an arrangement with MusicMatch? Obviously, the amount of development work on the existing MusicMatch would be less than on an all-new Windows version of iTunes. If they wait much longer, iTunes for Windows will be the answer to the question nobody is asking.

  7. Apple probably didn’t work out that agreement because MusicMush is a sorry, unreliable application that is the worst stop-gap measure ever offered by Apple for any product. It is the source of the vast majority of support calls on iPods due to its incredibly unstable synching and performance on even the best (now this is an oxymoron) Wintel systems. In short, it really really sucks.

  8. Looks to me that MusicMatch has licenced iTMS somehow or is Apple about to buy them out or something.

    After actually buying an iPod and using iTMS I realized what it is all about. If you like some new song press a button in iTMS and you can listen to it anywhere. iPod is a simple remote control to the world’s music library.

    On PC it’s more like: U want to listen one song: learn computer technology, buy virus software, call tech support… u get the idea.

  9. This is all very interesting. And I am biting at the bit to buy an iPod and DL songs over the net using the ITMS (clearly the better product combination) but guess what? I can’t. I live in Europe.

  10. I downloaded the free version of MusicMatch to use in VirtualPC, and I was not impressed. The layout was very similar to iTMS, even the “buy” buttons were almost identical. I wonder if they licensed the same one button purchasing from, that Apple has. Either way, it was somewhat confusing.

    It has a separate window for the store and the player. I couldn’t just sample a song from a list of the artist’s songs like iTMS, I had to go to some other link in the store window, which would then bring up only one song at a time in the player window. It was very confusing, so I quit out and said, “forget it.”

    Not a very pleasant experience at all.

  11. MusicMatch forces iPod owners to go: WMA->CD->MP3->iPod

    That is a great limitations and a hassle. Either you use iPod (and iTMS Windows and – c’mon Apple, make those lawyers work overtime – Europe) or use MusicMatch and forget about the iPod.

    I’d say iTMS will have the winning hand already because of the iPod.

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