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.]

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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. Well, well, well. Another day, another music store using Microshaft’s “PlaysForSure”. Blood on the ITMS storefront bell!

    As for all the trolls who whine “Tower had no choice!” — Tower, with their successful music chain, and cash in the bank, definitely has choices. One, they could do nothing and save themselves the embarassment of making a half-hearted effort, or make the case that a CD is the best in sonic quality (at least as compared to encoded music). Two, they could make a half-hearted effort and go with the world’s most hated computer company to deliever substandard sonic quality to people who don’t like iPods. Three, they could create their own standard. Code monkeys do work cheap, guys. Four, they could work out some promotional deal with iTunes where they get a cut of all iTunes music sold from that location. Who knows what other options there are? Who knows what correspondence there was between Tower and Apple? Who knows if they met? There’s always options, guys.

  2. At this time, online music sales account for less than 10% of all music sales, and of that less-than-10%, iTMS has about 7-8%. The growth potential for online music sales is tremendous. If iTMS “competitors” were smart, they’d be concentrating on that that remaining 90%, instead of trying to get a slice of Apple’s pie. Short sighted to say the least.

    Ironicly, iTMS does have an Achilles heel and, if the music labels ever get a clue, it will spell the end of iTMS. Not the iPod, but iTMS would probably die…and very quickly. And what’s even more ironic is that Apple itself is the clue.

    Treat music like a commodity. Stop pushing multi-tiered pricing. Try selling as much music as you can, instead of trying to make as much as you can from a piece of music.

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