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Yahoo Music Unlimited - still very Beta

September 2005

So far, not so good as I had hoped.

Ever since MP3s first made their way into existence I've been looking for a service like Yahoo's Music Unlimited (or Napster to Go, etc...).

I think the balance of paying a subscription for access to a ton of music is a very happy medium between the theft by consumers via downloads and the highway robbery by record companies via hugely inflated CD prices.

The price is, at least theoretically, quite good for the Yahoo offering. It's $5 a month if you sign up for a year at a time, or $7 a month if you go month to month. I took a shot at the year plan which means that I pay less for a month of music service than I do for a 7&7 at most bars when you figure in tip.

The problem at the moment is that they aren't really ready for prime time. Their software is still in 'beta' which basically means that they know it's going to screw up more than it should and some stuff simply might not work.

Now don't get me wrong some beta release offerings work a lot better than others. Take Google Maps , for example. I would see nothing wrong if Google classified that as a production level service.

The software that powers Yahoo's setup, their Music Engine, is at the other side of the spectrum. It's often slow to start and more often than not causing odd things to happen with the rest of my machine. Since this is beta that would be fine except for the fact that Yahoo is charging for it.

It pisses me off when companies do this, but I suppose it's more the norm than the exception. The philosophy seems to be: Get as many people paying as early as possible, even if it means launching a shoddy product.

My current frustration with Yahoo is that I had songs downloaded onto one of my machines that I transferred to my Dell DJ (more will probably come on that later). The way the system works you have to plug back into the net every 30days so the digital license can be updated allowing you to play your the tunes for another 30 days.

I was running low on disk space from the computer so I erased the files from there, but left them on the portable player. It seems that this isn't good enough since the licenses have expired and I can't get them to update.

I've got a request into Yahoo, but haven't heard if this how it's supposed to be or if it's yet another bug. Either way, it's a poor experience. All I want to do is listen to some tunes, but the whole system makes that an exercise in frustration. Welcome to the Early Adopter Penalty.

The selection of songs seems pretty decent, but I've already run into a bunch of stuff that isn't in their catalog at the moment. I'd like to see something like PlayLouder which apparently lets you download any song from sony as long as you are going thru their service. Of course, it would be better if it was every song out there.

That's right, I'm still looking for the Celestial Jukebox.

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