from the February
by Rob Zorn
After Coketunes (covered last month) Digirama (www.digirama.co.nz) is the next largest source for online legal music in New Zealand. Digirama is 100% New Zealand owned which might make it a little more palatable if you're a big supporter of Buy New Zealand Made or if you're not a big fan of softdrink. A 200,000 song catalogue offers plenty of choice, and the company is said to be on the verge of signing a deal with another major label that should boost its total to about 300,000 songs.
As with Coketunes, youre restricted to using Internet Explorer 6 on a Windows machine at Digirama (no Macs or boutique browsers) because their download technology is also dependent upon IEs Active X software. The songs come down as WMA files which is Microsofts compression format. Its similar to mp3, but carries internal digital rights management coding. WMA files can be played on many music players, most notably standard Windows Media Player, but you wont be able to play them on your iPod. This is the biggest drawback to the service and results because Apple, not surprisingly, refuses to allow its software to read files with Microsoft DRM. Plenty of other players will happily play both WMA and Mp3, though.
With Digirama things are a little simpler to use than with Coketunes. You dont need to install any special software, though the site definitely works best if you access it via the built in browser in Windows Media Player. Excellent help material at the site can assist you with getting this going in no time. Downloaded songs will turn up in your Windows Media Player library once downloaded.
Songs cost $1.69 each, and whole albums can be downloaded for just $15.99. Ring tones are also available and will be sent straight to your phone once paid for. You can listen to free short samples of songs before you download them, and there are also free movie trailers to watch at the site. You can pay for your purchases via credit card or via Internet banking.
Legal vs Illegal downloads
Why pay for legal downloads when you can download them for free using peer-to-peer software such as Kazaa? Well, for one, you wont feel so guilty, nor will you risk the wrath of the record companies who have sued illegal downloaders in the US for copyright violations.
The legal services also tend to be better laid out, with higher quality tracks. An illegal download might cut out half way into a song, and theres no foolproof way to check before you download.
In legal sites the artist are reimbursed and consumers get the advantages of choice, money-back guarantees and virus-free downloads, which is not the case with peer-to-peer alternatives.
Its not illegal to use peer-to-peer software, only to download copyrighted material.