Newsday: Buy Lots of Music? Buy CDs, Not Downloads

If you spend a lot of money on music, you should spend that money on CDs, and not downloads from Appleis iTunes Music Store or other competing services, according to a Newsday editorial published Monday in the Los Angeles Times.

In a very fair and balanced look at the issues facing consumers wanting to manage their music digitally, Lou Dolinar told his readers that those with a significant investment in their music will find more portability, better fidelity, and more compatibility by simply buying CDs, and ripping them to their Mac or PC.

In his piece, Mr. Dolinar named Appleis iTunes Music Store and iPod as their respective best-in-class offerings. Calling Appleis approach to market a turnkey choice for consumers, Mr. Dolinar nevertheless (accurately) said that buying music from the iTunes Music Store locks you into playing your music through iTunes on a computer, and on an iPod for a portable music player.

He had far worse to say about the Windows world: "On the Windows side of things, the usual cliches pertain, thanks to Microsoftis own digital rights management in its WMA format. Windows offers a lot more choices than Mac - most of them badly implemented."

The real problem from his perspective, however, is that music downloads are lower quality than CDs, and that a catastrophic hard drive failure could result in losing all your music that you bought online.

His bottom line recommendation was that those who spend less than US$50 per year on music will most likely find buying online to be just fine.

"If youire an album-oriented adult and buy a lot of music," he wrote, "it is better to stay away from online music purchases altogether, and stick with good old-fashioned CDs. These can be ripped into file formats that are common across all music playback software and hardware, and if new formats are invented as old ones become obsolete, well, you can always re-rip the CDs."

You can find his full recommendation at the LA Times. Note that the LA Times requires a subscription.