A big surprise is an announcement today that Bigpond Music (A Telstra owned service) has from today started offering tracks in MP3 format. This is a move away from the DRM windows media format that all their songs were sold as.
When Bigpond started offering music sales a few years ago I was an early adopter and purchased music from their offerings. However it soon became obvious that the windows media DRM was a difficult beast to deal with. Windows users know only too well the pain of having to rebuild/reinstall a bloated operating system; the licensing for the Bigpond music files where often lost if you rebuilt windows and did NOT backup your DRM licences.
So I took the lesser of two evils and signed up to the Apple iTunes Music Store (iTMS), where although under a DRM system the licencing was more relaxed (5 Computers, unlimited iPods, burn to CD). Apple, specifically Steve Jobs, wrote about the restrictiveness that is Digital Rights Management, and soon thereafter started offering MP3 downloads. It took the music studios to start understanding the whole premise that DRM was not where the future lay.
Fast forward to August 2008, and today Telstra’s Now We Are Talking site has announced that MP3s are now on offer from Bigpond Music. Not only are they now DRM free, but they encode at a minimum of 256Kbps and up to 320Kbps for their audio tracks. For the end user this means close to if not indistinguishable from CD audio quality. The procrastinators I know who have shunned digital music no longer have an excuse to legally purchase their music.
Pricing is the same as the iTMS being AUD$1.69 per track and a similar price for albums. Downloads for Bigpond internet customers are also uncharged for data usage. A double bonus for some.
While I think purchasing music in this fashion is a good thing for the end user; if you care about the artists you should consider Magnatune. You wont find the latest top 10 tracks there but you will find fantastic music where the artist gets a large amount of the purchase price. They also allow you to pay an amount you choose for an album, or sign up for monthly unlimited downloads and streaming.
You can start purchasing MP3 music from Bigpond Music right away. Although it is not the entire catalogue for now, this is a correct step for Telstra in the right direction. Music sales figures do not lie!