Ubuntu One’s new Music Store

Ubuntu's Music store

Well I’m not sure why it’s here, but it is. Ubuntu launches its music store with the upcoming release of Lucid Lynx. It’s easy enough to find, as its integrated into Rhythmbox. I was lukewarm on the idea when I heard it mentioned a while back, and after playing with it a little, not much has changed. I hate to rain on the parade because Lucid Lynx is looking like a REALLY good release, but this music store feels really tacked on.

While I was able to find pretty near every obscure artist I searched for, searches for Radiohead and Madonna turned up nothing. Where services like Magnatune and Jamendo definitely reflect the values of the Linux community in the sense that both make their ethical business practices (like how they deal with artists) a centre-piece of their business and offer music in open, unpatented formats (lossless Flac and Ogg Vorbis as well as others), the Ubuntu service seems out of step.

Apart from presumably supporting Ubuntu (a worthy thing in and of itself) you can only guess to whom the money might go when you buy a track. All of the albums I looked at were only available in the patented MP3 format, a very strange choice for a company with such powerful a voice in the FOSS community. Doubly strange when Ubuntu doesn’t even play MP3s by default because of the patents involved.

On top of that, while the quality of the files varied between 320 and 192, the price remained steady at .99 euros. Shouldn’t the price and the quality be connected? My guess is that this is really just an Ubuntu front end on someone else’s music service (it turns out it is). If it isn’t, it sure feels that way. In the end I suppose any revenue stream is a good revenue stream, but in my opinion, Ubuntu really needs to rethink this one and bring it in line both with the values of the community and with the othewise excellent work they are doing in other areas.

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