First iTunes Plus tracks, albums appear in iTunes Store [updated] | iLounge News

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First iTunes Plus tracks, albums appear in iTunes Store [updated]

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2007
News Categories: iTunes

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Following last night’s release of iTunes 7.2 with support for DRM-free music downloads, the iTunes Store is now in the process of adding those tracks, dubbed “iTunes Plus” songs. A banner from the iTunes Store’s main page directs users to a list of albums available in the 256Kbps AAC format, including catalog releases by Paul McCartney, Coldplay, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Gorillaz and Norah Jones. The list appears to be actively under construction at press time.

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Album prices for iTunes Plus start at $9.99, but can go higher, as Coldplay’s X & Y lists for $11.99, and Gorillaz’ Demon Days lists for $12.99. Individual songs can be purchased for $1.29, with a new + icon indicating that the songs are iTunes Plus rather than prior 99-cent iTunes downloads. Upon first selecting the iTunes Plus banner, iTunes presents you with the option to always display the iTunes Plus version of an album or music video by default, or rather to show the lower-quality, DRM-laden version instead.

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Some of the spotlighted albums on iTunes appear not yet to have been completely transitioned from iTunes to iTunes Plus format. For instance, the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head shows an iTunes Plus album purchase option, but does not include iTunes Plus song downloads, directing you instead to the older 99-cent tracks. It’s unclear at the moment whether this will be remedied with subsequent iTunes Store catalog updates, or whether some artists will only allow their music to be purchased without DRM when in album form.

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Updated: Additional iTunes Plus tracks are in the process of being added to the iTunes Store this morning, fixing the “albums but no songs” issue above. Also, iLounge editors and readers are being presented with an Upgrade My Library option to enhance their existing collections of qualifying purchased iTunes Store music at a cost of 30 cents per track (US). Currently limited by participating labels, only those purchased tracks with iTunes Plus versions can be upgraded to the new and improved format.

Below, you can see comparison shots of iTunes Plus and iTunes track downloads. The only differences shown between the two tracks are as follows:

Kind: is now listed as Purchased AAC audio file rather than Protected AAC audio file. We have deleted from both photos the purchaser information, however, all tracks are tagged with the name and e-mail address of the person who downloaded them.

Size: has almost doubled from 3.5MB to 6.8MB.

Bit Rate: has doubled from 128Kbps to 256Kbps.

FairPlay Version information has disappeared from the DRM-less iTunes Plus track.

Where: shows the new filename, which is an M4A AAC file rather than an M4P AAC file.

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Comments

1

Looks like Apple is still working out some bugs. Twice now I’ve tried to upgrade my library ($86.03 for 350 songs) and I get an email back from Apple like the following:


Dear Tunaball,

Your iTunes Plus music upgrade could not be successfully completed because there was a problem with one of the items that was to be upgraded. Please return to your Upgrade My Library page and click Buy and your upgrade should be processed successfully. We are sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your business.


Sincerely,
iTunes Store Team

Posted by Tunaball on May 30, 2007 at 7:56 AM (PDT)

2

the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head shows an iTunes Plus album purchase option, but does not include iTunes Plus song downloads, directing you instead to the older 99-cent tracks.

This has been corrected. You can now purchase the $1.29 tracks.

Posted by Audrey McGirt on May 30, 2007 at 8:26 AM (PDT)

3

Upgrade my library shows only some of my EMI purchased tracks.  Other tracks I’ve purchased are available as $1.29 iTunes Plus purchases, but I’m not being given the option of upgrading them.  I hope this is a bug they iron out soon.

Posted by dodo on May 30, 2007 at 8:32 AM (PDT)

4

None of Coldplay’s tracks were available as DRM free in the Australian iTunes when I looked a few hours ago, so I’m guessing that there are going to be updating iTunes stores frantically for the next few hours/days!!

Just noticed though that for Coldplay, the videos are iTunes Plus, but none of the songs. yet!

Posted by yinyang on May 30, 2007 at 8:41 AM (PDT)

5

Well this is REALLY weird.

Of an EP album I had previously purchased, One of the two tracks were offered to update as iTunes Plus tracks.

Posted by lilaliend on May 30, 2007 at 9:03 AM (PDT)

6

Yes, it’s readily apparent with the slow response times, various error messages, and timeouts that they’re actively working on the iTunes Store back-end right now.

I haven’t yet been able to successfully upgrade my library for what is likely the same reason…  I keep getting an error message that says “The item you tried to buy is no longer available.”

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on May 30, 2007 at 9:05 AM (PDT)

7

Yes, I keep getting errors trying to download the offered upgrades I’ve purchased.

I’m also extremely hesitant to purchase new iTunes Plus albums.  I would expect the Plus versions to cost a bit more, as they do as singles purchases.  However, the price per album for Plus versions and regular show as the same.

If they’re supposed to be that way… AWESOME!!

Posted by iScott on May 30, 2007 at 9:12 AM (PDT)

8

I’ve also noticed another small glitch.  If you go to the main iTunes Plus page, and select the genre menu, it’s a bit limited.  Once you go to a specific genre and select the menu again, there’s nearly twice as many options.

I think Apple was slackin’ on this a bit in preparation for today.

Posted by iScott on May 30, 2007 at 9:24 AM (PDT)

9

There’s a “problem” with the cover illustrations, it seems. All updated songs have two illustrations after updating.

Posted by Wouter on May 30, 2007 at 9:35 AM (PDT)

10

Jeremy,

Have you thought about checking these new tracks for upconversion like you did with the new 640 x ???  musi videos Apple put out with the iPod 5.5 gen?

Posted by alexarch in Dallas, TX on May 30, 2007 at 9:58 AM (PDT)

11

I was listening to Bonnie Raitt and some of her tracks have been upgraded but I’m finding they won’t play when clicked.

Posted by Audrey McGirt on May 30, 2007 at 10:21 AM (PDT)

12

Yes, but…

If you have already paid $10 per album, and (Plus) albums are staying at $10 per album, shouldn’t you get your albums upgraded at no cost?

I can see paying “per song” but not for albums at are equal in value for a better quality product.

???

SAS

Posted by SASDallas on May 30, 2007 at 11:17 AM (PDT)

13

On the New Zealand there is a banner for Paul McCartney’s catalogue but it goes nowhere,at the moment. You have to wonder what has taken iTunes so long, they leave it till the end of their deadline and then have to hurry things

Posted by Steven Bates on May 30, 2007 at 11:30 AM (PDT)

14

Canada gets screwed! Until now we’ve enjoyed on-par pricing with the US iTunes store, and had a relatively weak dollar in comparison, but iTunes plus is now $1.39 a track! just as our Dollar is almost the same as the US dollar…

Albums seem to be in the $11.99 range at least, I hope they put out a $25 gift card now cause the $20 one is now useless for buying albums.

Posted by Dax on May 30, 2007 at 11:33 AM (PDT)

15

1) I chose the upgrade my library option and it missed numerous albums (Rolling Stones - Black & Blue, It’s Only Rock n Roll, etc.) that are eligible for upgrade.  Thus these albums were not downloaded.

2) At least 1 of the songs I was downloading got hung up 80% of the way through.

3) Many artists whose songs are listed as available for iTunes plus download (Paul McCartney, Jethro Tull) you can’t even preview, let alone download.

Apparently iTunes plus is very buggy.  Although not unexpected, it is a bit disappointing.

Posted by alan on May 30, 2007 at 4:04 PM (PDT)

16

I don’t think iTunes Plus is buggy.  I think there are just SO many people downloading and browsing the same songs that it’s just bogged down.

I’m sure when the mad rush of upgrading slows down, it will run as expected.  Some people have hundreds of songs to update!

Posted by jhart71 on May 30, 2007 at 5:29 PM (PDT)

17

How does the new file compare with CD quality audio?  Is it better? Should I think about buying a few of my favorite songs if I already have them on cd?

Posted by Caleb on May 30, 2007 at 5:32 PM (PDT)

18

I’ll just make one comment on what I’ve heard thus far in iTunes Store 256K / 128K comparisons I’ve done: in the songs I’ve tested, even with superb earphones, the differences are barely perceptible. I am not 100% confident that all of the songs have been properly re-encoded. At most, I’m hearing a little less distortion, a hint of extra detail in high frequencies, and slightly better spatialization. Quite possibly I’m listening to the wrong music for the comparisons, but if these tracks are representative, surely the differences are going to be lost on most users.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on May 30, 2007 at 5:42 PM (PDT)

19

This sucks, I purchased the Smashing pumpkins box set (b sides rarities) and now ITMS doesn’t even sell it anymore!! Now i can’t even upgrade to Itunes Plus like the rest of the smashing pumpkins Albums….:(

Posted by antman on May 30, 2007 at 5:49 PM (PDT)

20

Just upgraded Coldplay’s X&Y album only to find out that the 2 bonus songs, “Proof” and “I Don’t Understand” weren’t included! These were included when pre-ordering so for those of us who did, why aren’t we able to upgrade those two for 40 cents each?  That’s my 80 cents worth gripe.  Oh yeah, using Etymotic ER6i noise isolating headphones, I really can’t notice a difference in quality.  Tried playing 30 second snippets of the same song (the old DRM version and new plus version) and can’t tell the difference.

Posted by entogeek on May 30, 2007 at 6:09 PM (PDT)

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