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 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.]

Introducing the super-fast, blogging, podcasting, do-everything-out-of-the-box MacBook.  Starting at just $1099.
Get the new iMac with Intel Core Duo for as low as $31 A MONTH with Free shipping!
Get the MacBook Pro with Intel Core Duo for as low as $47 A MONTH with Free Shipping!
Apple’s new Mac mini. Intel Core, up to 4 times faster. Starting at just $599. Free shipping.
iPod. 15,000 songs. 25,000 photos. 150 hours of video. The new iPod. 30GB and 60GB models start at just $299. Free shipping.
Connect iPod to your television set with the iPod AV Cable. Just $19.
iPod Radio Remote. Listen to FM radio on your iPod and control everything with a convenient wired remote. Just $49.

Related articles:
More blood on Apple iTunes Music Store’s play button: MyCokeMusic is dead – June 20, 2006
NPD: Apple’s iTunes Music Store now the 7th largest U.S. music retailer, up from 14th last year – November 21, 2005
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has blood on its play button: is dead – March 28, 2004


  1. It’s simple really. As a company that sells music (traditionally through their record stores) it’s an imperative to get an online presence lest they miss out on online customers.

    However, and this is the fly in the ointment, Apple has left them no choice. They don’t have the option of selling music with FairPlay, so the only two alternatives are to sell unrestricted MP3 (yeah, right) or WMA format files with DRM.

    Everyone who makes fun of the fact that all these other music providers offer WMA-only downloads seems to be missing the point: They have no choice.

    Back to the buggy whip argument, though… the market will decide the outcome. More power to Apple for their efforts, but boy it must suck to be any other online music seller.

  2. “We sound better than most of our competitors who sell songs encrypted in 128 kbps” – Shouldn’t that be encoded??? Tower records apparantly havn’t figured out this thing called technology.

  3. With MyCokeMusic gone down the tubes, OD2 has gotta fleece SOMEBODY in order to make money as a “You gots da name, we gots da music store” company.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Hey Face?

    If your computer crashes, do you lose all your financial records? All your emails?
    I don’t, so I’ll let you in on this idea that’s so new, it’s revolutionary!
    It’s called “Backing up your data”, and it’s been around for over 40 years.
    (MW “better”, as in “I feel better now”)

  5. Why do you bash all these Windows-only online music stores? Do they have a choice? It’s the RIAA’s own stupidity which prevents real competition. Drop the DRM and all of a sudden, Apple has real competition in the online business and in the music players themselves. But the record labels would go out of business before they admitted they were wrong.

  6. I agree with those who point out that Apple doesn’t license its iPod compatible DRM so rivals have no choice because MS is the only one licensing its DRM. MS will benefit from this in the long run.

    Apple may be the clear leader right now but trying to keep it all to itself may ultimately prove to be a big mistake. Just imagine how good it would be if we could choose from a range of stores using Apple’s format. It would really stick it to MS in the long-term and not just short-term.

    We must assume that MS will eventually get things right and rivals to the iPod will get better which will mean customers willl have more choice. Apple will seem very closed in comparison so I think it’s better to act sooner rather than later. License Fairplay and really kick MS while it’s down.

    I would go one step further and open the iPod at the same time to the other WMA stores. It’s up to apple to ensure iTMS remains the best store and iPod remains the best player. By opening both up, Apple would be the most open provider of such products.

    Online Music stores should be like real stores with the music we buy not being restricted to one brand of player and the mp3 players should be like the walkmans of the past or like CD players. Imagine having a CD player and you could only buy CDs from one store. We have this situation with iPods.

  7. DUH!!!

    Apple won’t license Fairplay because Steve would be cutting into his buddy Bill Gates territory.

    For years Apple has played, DO NOT DISTURB with Microsoft. That’s why the only spreadsheet we see from Apple is some 10 year throwback called AppleWorks. No MacTel version neither.

    Those two coloborate on more things than anyone in the buisness.

  8. Why not both? I buy music from iTMS because I like the convenience, but I still also buy CDs for stuff that’s not available on iTMS; I’m looking for a CD of “Camelot” with the original broadway cast (Julie Andrews was the best Guinevere, IMNSHO).

    (Apple better get that 100GB iPod out soon…I’m running out of space…)

  9. I’m curious. We always make a big deal about all the other guys being “windows only”, but do they have a choice? From what I see, they only have three choices. (1) make a deal with Apple and use Fair Play. Not going to happen anytime soon. (2) make a deal with MS and by default, build a Window’s only store, or (3) do like Sony and build their own drm. Sony is a tech manufacturer and has some means for software and hardware design/manufacturing etc. A record store like Tower doesn’t.

    So I wonder, if you don’t strike a deal with Apple, is it possible to make a cross platform music store using drm? Is there any way to make M$’ PlaysForSure drm, work with a mac? My guess is no, thus why blame the online store if it’s Windoze only?

    I don’t mind disliking them, it’s kind of fun at times. I just want to know if they’re totally to blame for the platform they choose to support, or is it really a problem with M$ and Apple not giving them options to support macs.

    Anyone know?

  10. Face,

    I agree completely with you.

    If Apple now gave the choice of Apple Lossless at no extra charge, they’d leave the competition even further behind, because they’d get a lot of new customers – like me.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.