The new Apple Music Store / iTunes bundle is pretty freaking cool. If you forget the instant music purchases and digital rights management, you still have some good stuff left over. Being able to share your music collection via an on-demand stream is the best thing EV-AR. I can have ONE computer with a copy of all the music, then listen to playlists or individual songs on any computer in the house. It is nice because I do not need to synchronize multigigabytes of music or even put any thought into what needs to be copied where. It is all streamed. It is also cool because it skirts copyright and ownership rules–you do not need to worry about a friend getting an “illegal” copy of a file accidentally because nobody ever sees the files, only the music streams. I can bring my entire music collection to work “safely and legally.”
Now, on to the more controversial stuff. The Apple Music Store is pretty darn awesome. I was expecting it to have a meager selection, but it seems to have a huge amount of music–even good music! I remember hearing a stat somewhere about 200,000 albums available! You just browse through the available music (or search or see recommendations or whatever), look at the cover art, listen to 30 second snippets, and click to buy. It is $0.99 per track, no subscription required. I am not sure how I feel about the pricing plan yet, but the mechanism for browsing and purchasing seems easy. They have all the mainstream crap you would expect, but they also have a number of gems in there that surprised me: a couple of William S. Burroughs better albums, Rasputina, just about all of Tom Waits, Spinal Tap, a good amount of the more-mainstream Industrial, a crapload of soundtracks, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan–although I have to dock them points for having Garrison Keillor. I would expect the catalog to grow even more pretty soon.
As for the digital rights management, we will see how annoying that will be. While everything ripped defaults to MP3, everything you download is in the new AC3 format with protection. iTunes lets you burn everything you download to an audio CD, so I would assume you could then take it back up to MP3. A single album should not be as annoying as an 8-hour audiobook, so I think my Audible.com practice will come into play here. Plus, I bet you can still do the Audio Hijack Pro thing and just steal it from the digital out before it reaches the speakers, except the timing of doing this for multiple tracks might get tedious.
This streaming on demand thing just kicks some major ass. Some of the menu options look like I might even be able to poke a hole through the firewall and stream from places that Rendezvous can't see, as long as I know the IP address or host name. I wonder if this will catch on as a new kind of radio station?