Canadian Newspaper Incorrectly Reports That "Canada Gets Its Own Version Of iTunes"

The Toronto Star has incorrectly reported that "Canada gets its own version of iTunes." So reads the headline of a story by the Canadian Business (CB) news service published online by the Toronto Star. The article is actually about a service that CB claims is similar to Appleis iTunes Music Store (iTMS), but is in fact a different service called Puretracks from a different company called Moontaxi. While the actual story does not make the same mistake as the headline, the headline itself is very misleading, and the article also has its share of other misleading information (note the description of Windows Media Audio files below). From the article:

Now itis time to see if that success can be replicated in Canada. But Apple wonit get the first bite. Instead, a small Toronto outfit called Moontaxi Media Inc. has developed what is essentially a Windows version of iTunes, called Puretracks, which will launch this fall.

Initially, Puretracks will list roughly 250,000 songs, including artists on all five of the major labels: BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner. But itis also stocking songs from a half-dozen independent Canadian labels, such as True North Records (whose artists include Bruce Cockburn and Randy Bachman) and Nettwerk (mostly younger acts like Avril Lavigne).

Unlike iTunes, Puretracks sells Windows Media Audio files — a much smaller, data-filtered version of the original CD audio — that average about 4 MB and take roughly 20 seconds to download.

"The quality experience should be considerably high, which hopefully appeals to the consumer who wants to do the right thing," says Moontaxi partner Derek van der Plaat.

[...]

That tiny Moontaxi has been able to re-create iTunes to any significant degree proves that doing the right thing pays off. The company was founded in 2000 as a legit music-streaming site, with backing from Universal Canada and EMI Canada

The report also says that illegal file download services, or piracy networks as they are also known as, offers some users the only way to get MP3s of some songs. From the article:

But thereis still no sign users are giving up on piracy: more than 2.6 billion songs are illegally downloaded each month — thatis equivalent to almost 145 million CDs. For many music fans, itis the only way to get MP3 versions of songs by popular acts that have opted out of legit online services (including the Beatles, Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers) and find obscure European-only B-sides and other songs not readily available in Canada.

While the article is correct about obscure European-only B-sides, astute readers will note that one can obtain "MP3 versions of songs by popular acts that have opted out of legit online services" by buying the CD and ripping it yourself.

There is more in the full article at The Star. Though the Toronto Star article is dated September 15th, it should be noted that Puretracks first made headlines on September 5th (the Globe and Mail story to which we linked contains more accurate information on Puretracks and its relation to Appleis iTMS), when it was first announced in Canada. The service is set to launch in October of 2003.

The Globe and Mail story says that songs are priced at 99 cents, with albums at $9.99, with prices presumably being offered in Canadian dollars. That would make Puretracksi prices considerably more competitive that any of the US or European services that have so far been launched.