Apple launches iTunes Music Store

Apple finally launched a European version of the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) yesterday. At the moment, it is only available in the UK, Germany, and France, with the rest of Europe expected to be covered by October of this year. You need a localised version of iTunes to access the store.

I tried it out briefly, and browsing the store is a doddle. The content is nicely laid out, and it is easy to search for artists, songs and albums. The links to related material and information make it easy to explore new artists and albums too. I haven’t bought any music yet, but it won’t be long until I succumb to temptation, and setting up an account is simplicity itself if (like me) you already have a .Mac account, or an Apple Store ID.

I was pleased to see that the launch made all the major news broadcasts in the UK, though some of the reports showed typical skepticism about Apple’s chances in the face of competition from Microsoft. The iTMS has been a huge success in America, but many pundits are suggesting that Apple will have a much harder time cracking the European legal download market. Time will tell, especially as the catalogue of music and features available on the iTMS grows over the coming year. Personally, i think this is great news.

As an illustrator, I appreciate the need to protect the rights of artists against piracy. Although the financial model offered by Apple doesn’t offer the rewards to artists that it could or should, it seems this is largely the fault of the major record labels short sighted views of music downloads, and the restrictive licensing deals they have forced Apple to work with. All in all, iTunes Music Store is a huge step in the right direction.

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