I know it’s been a while since I posted anything.  I guess didn’t have much to say.

After years of waiting, I finally found a way to purchase music over the Internet that works for my needs. 

I have four PCs where I listen to music.  Each of them serves a different purpose.  Our main PC is a Media Center Edition that we primarily use as a desktop PC but occasionally record some TV programs on, let me daughter watch her cradle until current day videos, etc.  I have an older PC that primarily is for backups and is the “server” for my Turtle Beach AudioTron.  Its sole purpose is stream music from the Internet radio stations or from a digital music collection into your audio system. I have a Tablet PC that I use at home on our WIFI network.  That Tablet is great to plug into a portable stereo to reach those areas of the house that don’t have loudspeakers.  Finally, I have a Tablet PC from work that I listed to music on during my train commute to and from work.  I don’t own a portable music player other than an old Compaq PA-1 player.  I’m intrigued by the portable players out there but frankly I’m not sure I need to listen to my music anymore than I already do.  There’s a point where I think you can get saturated listening to the same ~3000 songs and I’m pretty close to that point (or at least was).  That may change in the next couple of months…

Over the past year, I have purchased DRM-protected Windows Media Audio (WMA) music from both Napster and Buy.com.  They make acquiring music very easy but with both companies I ended up never buying another song.  The reason is because I know own more WMA protected music that I’ll never be able to listen to again.  That is because I didn’t follow the proper “license key management” backup procedure before I rebuilt my computer(s).  Every time I shut down the Windows Media Player it prompts me to do the license backup and stores that in the expected docs and settings folder. Shouldn’t copying the docs and settings/… directories be enough?  No, it’s not.  When I contacted their support departments they basically said ‘sorry, that’s just the way it is.’  Even if I did recover the music they only allow the music to be run on one PC (you can make 10 CD-R discs but I’m not 14 and neither are my friends so that’s not a big selling point).  I only lost about $15 worth of music so I chalk it up to a lesson learned.  Unfortunately, I figured I’d just stick to buying and ripping my CDs to WMA/MP3 as the best way to digitize the music while secretly hoping we’d get it right when we entered the market.

My frustrations with one PC, locked music all changed a little over a week ago when we finally did enter the market.  MSN Music simultaneously launched with Windows Media Player 10 and they allow for the DRM WMA files to be played on up to five simultaneous PCs!  MSN Music’s multiple PC policy is so incredibly pro-consumer that I’ve purchased ~50 songs during the past week. I cannot believe how easy it is to find, sample, acquire and then share the music between all of my PCs.  They have also done a really good job of getting you to impulsively buy other songs.  If you choose an artist (say The Cranberries) they’ll show you a list of other suggested artists that other “listeners also liked…”   I do not have a lot of the one or two hit wonder artists’ songs (e.g. Boomtown Rats “I don’t like Mondays”).  I can’t believe how many other songs I’d found.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  They also take whatever bit rate settings you have for ripping your own music and download the same bit rate for the music you’re acquiring.  Give it a whirl.  I’d be very surprised if you weren’t really pleased.

I’m hoping they add an EBay-like way of entering a search and having the service notify me when a particular artist or song is brought on-line.  Otherwise, I think it’s about as perfect of service as I could ask for.  

Jumping back to why I might buy a portable music player.  Instead of buying the music if apparently if you sign up for the service like you would with DirecTV or another service you pay a monthly fee for you’ll be able transfer and listen to as much music onto the portal device.  You’ll only be limited to its hard drive size.  You’ll be able to listen to the hundreds of thousands of songs as long as you keep your subscription current.  Coolness…