Why Coca-Cola competitions won't convince me to use iTunes for downloading music

Columns & Opinion, MP3 players

Katherine Hannaford writes…

Here’s a shocking fact for an early-twenty-something to come out with – I’ve never paid a pence when downloading music. Whilst I do own an iPod (my second, begrudgingly) and even use iTunes to store my ample music collection, I’ve not once been tempted to pay for a song, no matter how inexpensive they are. And least of all from iTunes. If they really want to get my business, they should stop wasting time fooling around with Coca-Cola like a pair of fumbling love-struck teens, and follow my instructions…

Firstly, there’s the issue of DRM involved with the majority of choons available on iTunes. I like to look forward to a day, when in my own private little utopia, I don’t own an iPod, and can indulge in a tasty piece of plastic from Creative, iRiver, or – shock! horror! Microsoft’s Zune offering. This means that all those tracks I’ve purchased on iTunes? Well, consider that wasted money, as they’ll only work on Apple iPods. Ok, sure, they’ve taken a step in the right direction with all EMI tracks being DRM-free on iTunes at a higher price, but until all tracks on iTunes are rid of the evil Digital Rights Management virus, I’m not taking part, and I know plenty more who feel strongly about this issue too.

This line of argument is a bit risqué, and I’m waiting for the first person to jump into the comments box and say ‘you may as well break into people’s homes and steal their stuff, it’s the same thing’, but why pay for something…when you can get it for free? I’m not going to come right out and admit to downloading songs illegally through means such as Bittorrent, and I do admit that the argument against is quite strong (poor, struggling artists being ripped off by their record labels, not making anything when people illegally download their album), but when you can get something for free (and without *much* danger of prosecution)…why not? Why should I waste my hard-earned money supporting Steve Jobs’s penchant for black turtleneck jumpers, when I can spend it on supporting struggling authors or indie film-makers instead, or something closer to my heart?

I’m fairly certain that those of us Apple and Coca-Cola are hoping to target – the ‘yoof – are more intelligent than they’re taking us for. Do they really think we’ll succomb to their free give-aways and give up the almighty Bittorrent for life, or (for those of us with slightly more common sense), stop using eMusic or other cheaper downloading services? A competition on a coke can will not show us the error of our ways when it comes to illegal downloading, and a couple of free songs doth not the Apple user maketh. And we’re not buying your iMac and Apple TV either, Jobs!

The likelihood of Apple offering DRM-free tracks, well, for free, is extremely slim, but there’s several more ways they could perhaps try to sway me to the dark side of the force. Or make that the shiny, white and smooth side of the force. A loyalty-scheme with incentives wouldn’t hurt, with perhaps every hundredth track downloaded reaping you five free ones in return, or with every thousandth track downloaded, a new next-gen iPod to replace your scratched one would definitely provoke those of us who view our own beaten-up ‘pods in disdain to sign up.

Will any of this actually happen? Well, I won’t hold my breath. But Apple, as a good friend said today to me – it’s going to take a lot more than slapping a prize token on the inside of a coke bottle cap to convert me to using iTunes. At least think about a collaboration with Smirnoff Vodka or Starbucks, geez.

Related: Apple’s collaboration with Coca-Cola | EMI tracks go DRM-free on iTunes | UK music downloading review

Katherine Hannaford
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  • DRM isn’t the real problem, but rather that it ties you to Apple for hardware to play it. Sure, I’d prefer no DRM but I would like lossless downloads first! Should I a) spend £8 on an iTunes album, which is lossy compressed, doesn’t have a backup or a nice printed booklet; or b) give £7.50 to an online store who will send me the full-quality audio, DRM-free and with something pretty to look at while I listen?

    Fix that and I might use iTunes. Still, I will use the tokens I won from the bottles of cola I usually buy anyway.

  • You can subvert DRM by downloading the choons, burning to a CD and then ripping straight back as MP3 / FLAC / OGG / whatever. Call it “backing up your purchases”.

  • You don’t mind if I rip off your article and make some money out of it by selling it to a newspaper do you? Perhaps I should “borrow” some of your pictures from Flickr and add them to my “pay per view” lightbox. Is that alright?

  • “it’s going to take a lot more than slapping a prize token on the inside of a coke bottle cap to convert me to using iTunes”
    good point , thought so too


  • “it’s going to take a lot more than slapping a prize token on the inside of a coke bottle cap to convert me to using iTunes.”

  • So you’d sacrifice something that actually works but with restrictions for something that doesn’t, though one day might work, but offers ‘choice’ albeit lame.

    How ‘intelligent’!

    Are ‘the yoof’ ‘intelligent’ enough to have worked out why you’re so easily manipulated by ‘choice’ yet?


    P.S. The only people DRM annoys are technophiles & pirates & you ain’t no technophile

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