Mix: Rent vs. Own, Nightmare iPod, Music mags, iGuy adventures | iLounge News


Mix: Rent vs. Own, Nightmare iPod, Music mags, iGuy adventures

In an article on music subscription services entitled “Rent vs. Own,” Walt Mossberg says that “for most people, it’s no contest: Right now iTunes and the iPod are the better choice in digital music.”

A Japanese company is offering a special edition “Nightmare Before Christmas” iPod.

The Guardian reports that music magazine publishers believe the iPod and iTunes are helping boost magazine sales. [via Macworld UK]

The Adventures of iGuy is a new site that features the “weekly conquests and adventures” of Speck’s iPod accessory character.  [via Gear Live]

Related Stories



“The biggest problem with renting is that if you stop paying your subscription, even for one month, all the songs you’ve ever downloaded — going back years — will become inert and unplayable. Rental song files are rigged with computer code that requires a monthly digital confirmation the renter is continuing to pay. Without that, the song files die.”


Posted by khyberny on August 19, 2005 at 11:16 AM (CDT)


“Nightmare Before Christmas

Posted by Anton Jancin on August 19, 2005 at 1:40 PM (CDT)


I would maybe consider a subscription service if it offered a heavily discounted year-long membership that maybe gave the option to buy all rented songs using the membership price as the initial payment (i.e. membership is $65/year; if after the year I have 100 songs rented, I could buy these for $0.80/track or whatever and apply the $65 toward the total $80 owed to buy-out).

But I’m sure that probably wouldn’t be profitable enough.

Posted by dethbrakr on August 19, 2005 at 2:17 PM (CDT)


The article on renting versus owning is based on the same sort of mental retardation that plagues this board: no matter how many ways you crunch the numbers, it is cheaper to rent your entire life than actually buy music legally if you add even 10-15 songs a month on average.

As a consequence, any argument against the value is either an outright lie, or deceptive in that it is based on the practice of widespread stealing of music.

Posted by Code Monkey on August 19, 2005 at 2:33 PM (CDT)


I have to respectfully disagree.  What happens if you fall on hard times in your old age and cannot afford a subscription anymore, or they raise the prices dramatically?  You lose it all, at least if I own the music I love, I will always have it on demand.  I would not want my music to be dependent on the whims of the record companies.

Posted by khyberny on August 19, 2005 at 3:09 PM (CDT)


Thanks, Code Monkey.  Finally at least one other person on this board who sees the truth.

Walt Mossberg is a joke.  How is this guy even writing for a publication as respected as the Wall Street Journal, but he always seems to be behind the times?  He makes the most misleading points.

He makes this supposedly scary point of what if you download years worth of music and then stop your subscription—your music won’t play.  That doesn’t scare me, I would just move onto something else.

What if you buy $5,000 (his figure, not mine) worth of songs off the iTMS and Apple decides to charge their license agreement so that you can only play each song on one computer and one iPod?  This would jack a lot of people.

The whole point of the matter, and what I knock Mossberg for not seeing (even though he’s supposed to be a cutting-edge tech writer) is that ownership is long gone as a business model in the tech world.  Within in a couple years you won’t buy software, you will rent it.  You will pay x-amount for the use of Microsoft Office for a year.  It makes sense, because when that version goes out of date, you will simply begin to lease the new version.

Microsoft Office 2003 Professional has a retail price of $499.  If you are an early adopter and upgrade when the new version comes out you will have probably gotten ~4 years use out of it.  That’s $125 per year.  What if Microsoft leased the program to you for $60 per year?  Would you choose ownership or purchase in this scenario?  At $60 per year you would have to rent for more than eight years to reach $499, and you would be working with an outdated version for four of those eight years.

With music I would much rather subscribe, and when the newer format, or higher bit-rate files become available in the future, I won’t have to re-invest in my music collection.  What are you guys who are buying $5,000 (once again Mossberg’s figure) worth of songs on iTMS gonna do when a new, better, higher fidelity, small size file format comes out?  Are you gonna spend another $5,000 to repurchase the music, or are you gonna wish you had a subscription.  I remember spending thousands to replace vinyl with CD’s.  I don’t wanna pay thousands again to replace AAC files with the next hot thing in a couple years (or less).

The only thing holding the subscription model back, and the only thing people like KHYBERNY should be arguing about is that Apple isn’t offering it.

Get over it all you people who think iTMS is such a great thing in comparison to subscriptions.  Don’t get me wrong, iTMS was groudbreaking, but in comparison to subscriptions it’s nothing.  As soon as Apple offers it you will be the first ones in line.  I guarantee it!

Posted by Talking Madness on August 19, 2005 at 3:26 PM (CDT)


I don’t get the big deal over rent vs buy.  I prefer to own my home.  Sure I could rent for the rest of my life, but I feel more secure if I own my home.  If you want to rent, go ahead, but don’t knock others who want to own.

Posted by khyberny on August 19, 2005 at 3:40 PM (CDT)


....and yes, it is probably a lot cheaper over a lifetime to rent but why are so many people buying homes…..because they want to own it!

Posted by khyberny on August 19, 2005 at 3:42 PM (CDT)


Here’s a solution to all of your problems=P2P.

Posted by joe blow on August 19, 2005 at 4:14 PM (CDT)



I’m gonna stop picking on you, but you really are off base.  A home is an entirely different issue. 

I live in LA and the houses in my neighborhood go for $700,000…this is an insanely larger scale than music.  And, houses go up in value while music libraries go down in value.  If you invested $700,000 in CD’s they would probably be worth about $280,000 now (this assumes an average purchase price of $10 per disc, and a resale value of $4 per disc which is what I usually get from somewhere like Amoeba Music).  A house has the potential to sell for $1,000,000 in a few years.

Some people have made the comparison of buying vs. leasing cars to the music issue…again way off base.  My car was a $65,000 investment.  Much more than I will ever pay for music.  Cars also depreciate, so depending on your lifestyle, you may be better off leasing than buying.  I know I like to lease my cars, because I like to switch every few years

In the other thread that we went back and forth on, I calculated that over my life I’ve spent ~$22,000 on CD’s.  What a waste.  I would say I made a huge financial mistake, but that was only because there was no alternative.

Don’t get me wrong, ownership is a great thing—owning a home or a business—but owning music is in my opinion a bit of a losing proposal.

You mentioned what happens if someone falls on hard time.  How can you afford an iPod, and worry about $5 per month?  This makes me wonder if you’re actually buying any music.  Do you currently buy and CD’s or music from iTMS?

Thanks for the talk, man.

** NOTE: I’m man enough to admit some weakness in my argument.  Owning a CD, or making a CD from your downloaded music is a benefit.  This is irrelevant to me, because I don’t listen to CD’s…all my music listening is via the iPod or computer.  However, I don’t think this will be an issue for long either, as more and more devices come to have MP3 players embedded in them.  Soon no one will take CD’s into the car—they will download it directly to the hard drive in the car, or they will port the music from the player in their cell phone into the car’s speakers.  I also think this will become less of an issue, because the first major change in Apple’s license agreement I believe will be a reduction in the user rights to burn tracks—allowing the user so many burns is leaving them completely open to piracy.

Posted by Talking Madness on August 19, 2005 at 5:52 PM (CDT)


p2p is not a solution.  but that’s a whole other bag.

I imagine that if another audio codec comes along offering vastly superior sound quality with comparable file size, Apple will allow users to re-download songs.  If you’ve ever had a hd crash and called apple about your iTMS songs being long gone, chances are they’ll slap you on the wrist and let you re-download them all again.

Sure they could offer higher bitrates now, but most people have relatively small HDs and can’t tell a compressed AAC from a studio recording.  People who can tell and who care buy the bona fide CD:  It’s a different market that Apple doesn’t attempt to persuade at this point.  Bandwidth is still relatively expensive.

And it’s actually not a lot cheaper to rent a home over a lifetime.  Your mortgage payments are higher, yes, but it is an investment.  At any time you want you are able to get that money back by selling your home (I know it’s not exactly like that, but it is for simplicity’s sake).

Buying music is somewhat comparable—I buy my music now when the cost is still low and reasonable.  I burn it to a CD that will last indefinitely.  If Apple decides to jack up the prices of their songs to $3 per, I won’t care because I already have all of my favorite songs.  Those renting are at the complete mercy of their contracted company.  That company has clauses in their agreements allowing them to raise their prices to whatever whenever.  If you don’t want to pay that’s fine, but you’ll be left in silence. 

Subscription services make more sense to some but not for everyone.  If Apple offers one ever I may consider it, but I’ll be sure to still buy my favorite songs.  Subscription payments made on he pretense of indefinite longevity and amenity are branded with naivety.

Posted by dethbrakr on August 19, 2005 at 6:03 PM (CDT)


“Adventures of iGuy” - you know it had to happen sooner or later!

Posted by Galley on August 19, 2005 at 10:52 PM (CDT)


The problem with music stores like iTunes is that they charge as much or more in many cases than places like Best Buy or CC do for the actual CD.Now I do somewhat understand the appeal of instant gratification and pre tagged songs and such, but to pay full price for digital music that is not only restricted in how I use it, but also lossy?  That’s rediculous to me, and why I dont use an online store.  Unfortunately it will be a while if ever that music stores actually feature a reasonable price, RIP old emusic:(

Posted by Kleath on August 20, 2005 at 10:36 AM (CDT)


Buy the tracks you really want to own and rent background noise.  That’s the sensible way to do it.  At this point I refuse to pay an annuity to listen to music.  If I like a song, I’ll buy it from iTunes or get it through bittorrent.  I want to join Yahoo! Music but I don’t like that the charge is automatic for annual accounts.  It’s like they’re hoping I forget about it come renewal time.  Screw them!  Let me pay once and decide if I want to resubscribe for myself.  My experience has been cancelling autorenews is a NIGHTMARE!!!

Posted by Frank Z on August 20, 2005 at 2:15 PM (CDT)


Talking M,

To each his own.

Buying virtually any consumer good is a losing proposition, particularly over the long haul. Short of getting in on the ground floor on a Ford GT, Ferrari Enzo, Porsche Carrera GT, or Toyota Prius (with intent to immediately resell) almost any NEW car purchase is a losing deal, regarded SOLELY from a financial standpoint.  The same is true for all consumer electronics, Christmastime frenzy and well-timed eBay greed notwithstanding.  And the list goes on and on.  So it’s no surprise that recorded music content (and most video, for that matter) is no different (unless you were fortunate to have stocked up on original old stock MFSL CDs and LPs before the company went and had their initial money problems).

I too have spent inordinate tons of money on LPs and CDs over my lifetime…yes, there’s plenty of dogs in there to be sorry about, but I certainly don’t have many regrets, aside from always reworking the library room for additional storage capacity for all the incoming CDs and LPs. I know full well that as time pasts I won’t listen to a goodly portion of those discs in a long time, if ever, but knowing that I CAN at a moment’s whim…achieve superb sonic bliss free of blue screens and balky cable ISPs stupid Li-Ion batteries and the like. Just the other day I rediscovered a long forgotten LP that decades ago got me through all those all-nighters back in college…it now spends serious spin time on the Rega, and I couldn’t be more pleased…through my modern gear it’s never sounded more heavenly, even if it’s not exactly the same as I recall.  More than likely if I had been relying on a subscription service solely for my music, that never would’ve happend for that long out-of-print recording.  Even though I never intended it to happen this way, I can discover musical and memory gems within my own, very PHYSICAL, library.  No, monetarily, this archive is a financial dog, but not everything is valued by money alone.

That said, I also think that there’s nothing absolutely wrong with renting your music if that suits your lifestyle and values. I see definite advantages to it, but then again, it’s not necessarily for ME.

As for Mossberg, I’m in full agreement…the guy as an audio ‘expert’ is a sad joke.  In the past he’s readily admitted that he can’t tell the difference sonically between CDs on high end equipment and the average low bitrate MP3 off of a computer (or more likely, it’s that he doesn’t care), or the difference between the iPod’s earbuds and just about anything better, yet the WSJ still relies on him as their audio guru. He has his own agenda, and purism ain’t it. He panders to the lemmings crowd, and is all the happier to be doing so.  If subscription services became all the rage, he’d about face and step right in line so fast that most observing necks would be on the phone to their back & neck doctor to be fitted for braces. He’s more of a People Magazine type of hack, and apparently to the WSJ that goes down really well.

Posted by flatline response on August 21, 2005 at 3:56 PM (CDT)



Thanks for a much needed, reasoned and passionate response. 

I like your style, man.

Posted by Talking Madness on August 22, 2005 at 1:41 AM (CDT)

Subscribe to iLounge Weekly

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2018 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy