Tower Records to debut yet another Windows-only WMA-based iTunes Music Store also-ran

“Music retailer Tower Records is preparing to take the shrink-wrap off its digital download store on Tuesday, when Tower.com/Digital goes live with a comprehensive service powered by Puretracks,” Chris Marlowe reports for Reuters. “Initially the store will offer a catalog of 1.2 million tracks priced at 99 cents each or $9.99 for an entire album.”

“Tower Records chief marketing officer Russ Eisenman said the digital store fit perfectly with Tower’s history of offering music in all formats that prevailed throughout its 45-year history,” Marlowe reports.

“All of the music is in Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio format, encoded at a higher bit rate than most other online stores to provide better audio fidelity,” Marlowe reports. “This format can be burned to disc and played on many existing CD players, he noted. It also can be moved to most digital music players, with the exception of Apple’s iPod. No special software is needed to make a purchase, and the songs can be downloaded to any location on the computer.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bruce” for the heads up.]
Kudos for the marginally higher quality bit rate (192 kbps). We’d like to see higher bit rates from Apple, too, if the music labels would allow it.

That said, how many of these outfits must flounder and die before these gluttons for punishment stop launching limited Windows-only WMA-based junk with far less than even half of iTunes Music Store’s extensive library that also happen to exclude both the dominant portable media player, Apple’s iPod, and those with the most disposable income, Mac users?

Microsoft’s “PlaysForSure” is more effective than a noose around the neck for these outfits. Figure something else out, guys. How many also-ran outfits do we need to have around to suck up the few crumbs left over from Apple’s pie? Why even bother at this point? To say “too little, too late” to Tower would be too charitable.

By the way, back in the third quarter of 2005, NPD reported that Apple Computer’s iTunes music store had passed Tower Records in music sales as it surged from 14th to 7th largest U.S. music retailer within a one year period.

[UPDATE: 3:18pm EDT: Found and added 192kbps figure as per comment from “whatever” below.]

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37 Comments

  1. Online Music is the pits. It is just as expensive as regular music, but there is nothing physical about it. I like having a CD so that even if my computer crashes, my music is not erased. Also, with a quality set of speakers/headphones, the imperfections in the 128 kbps format become quite irksome, even to the untrained ear (like mine).

  2. Given that Apple has already worked out marketing deals with colleges for bulk downloads, I’m surprised that the big Records stores (Tower, HMV, etc.) haven’t worked out a similar deal with Apple.

  3. i’m sure this has been mentioned, so sorry to beat the rug again but, as a business, trying to make money, why would you aim your target audience away from 75% of the market share? Who is the brain-e-ack that came up with this.

    I can just hear it now “lets aim for the % of the market without iPods, that is where the gold is”

    Am I missing something here?

  4. Great. Another day, another online store. Opening an online music store has about the same prestige as saying you’re a “web page designer” did in 2003. Everyone was saying it, no one was really making money at it except the select few professionals, but everybody was jumping on the bandwagon anyway.

    Now there’s even Multi-level-marketing online music store opportunities. You don’t even need to make money selling downloads, just make money off selling other suckers on the desire to make money in this “exciting new marketplace”.

    YAWN.

  5. With a little digging it is on their site:

    “At Tower Records Digital, customers can listen to 30 second song samples, browse product pages that include biographies, similar artists, artist influences, artist followers, and find new music through our special tabs for top 100, e-singles, indie, and new releases. There is no complicated software to install and no subscription necessary. Our songs are encrypted in WMA with a high bitrate (192 kbps). We sound better than most of our competitors who sell songs encrypted in 128 kbps”

    So a whopping 192 kbps

  6. Pennypacker,

    If companies always aimed their target audience at the largest chunk of the market, there would be no software for macintosh. If a company can dominate 25% of the market, they are doing quite well. Perhaps they see no way of beating iTunes, so they want to focus on competing with the others.

  7. “m sure this has been mentioned, so sorry to beat the rug again but, as a business, trying to make money, why would you aim your target audience away from 75% of the market share? Who is the brain-e-ack that came up with this.”

    What choice do they have? Apple won’t license the Fairplay DRM to allow for iPod compatability.

  8. By the way, back in the third quarter of 2005, NPD reported that Apple Computer’s iTunes music store had passed Tower Records in music sales as it surged from 14th to 7th largest U.S. music retailer within a one year period.

    Tower has name recognition among CD buyers. Obviously they are trying to salvage their business by expanding into an arena that is eating their lunch. How much would it cost to add a little piece to their current advertising, telling their customers they can buy from Tower Online?

    Problem is that most online music buyers are also iPod owners. This won’t endear them to the bulk of online buyers.

  9. Point well taken,

    but at what point do you say, we can’t beat them we should join them. The pure stuff is at the head of the river not down at the bottom.

    People are taking the wrong approach. Don’t try and beat apple, join apple. You can’t beat this Goliath cause you’ll just be a little retarded david, peeing you pants.

  10. “Why even bother at this point? To say “too little, too late” to Tower would be too charitable.”

    I don’t support any of these iPod/iTunes “killers”, but with that kind of logic…we wouldn’t be using OS X, or staring at our Macs right now.

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