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Prepare to Shop

Ready to shop? Great. Let's make sure that you have the tools you need to get started. After you have those tools, we'll get you signed up with an account and then take an extensive tour of The Store.

What You Need

As these pages go to print, The Store is available in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Which store you're allowed to purchase music from depends on the issuing country of your credit card. If you have a credit card issued in Germany, for example, you can purchase music only from the German iTunes Music Store (though you don't physically have to be in Germany to do this—again, the credit card determines where you can shop).

To get started with The Store, your computer must meet these specifications:

Macintosh users must be running Mac OS X 10.1.5 on a 400 MHz G3 processor or better. To share music and burn DVDs, you need Mac OS X 10.2.4 or later. Your Mac must have at least 128 MB of RAM (Apple recommends 256 MB). Your Mac must also have copies of iTunes 4.5 or later and QuickTime 6.2 or later. If you want to use Apple's AirPort Express to stream music, you must be running Mac OS X 10.3 or later. To use purchased music in Apple's iLife applications (iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, and GarageBand), you must have QuickTime 6.5.1 or later installed. You can download iTunes 4 from www.apple.com/itunes/download and the latest version of QuickTime from www.apple.com/quicktime/download.

An easier way for Mac users to download these files is to fire up the Software Update application built into Mac OS X. This application (which you access through Mac OS X's System Preferences) can download both iTunes 4 and the latest version of QuickTime automatically. Just choose System Preferences from the Apple menu, click Software Update in the resulting System Preferences window, and then click the Check Now button. Software Update ventures out onto the Web to determine which of your OS X components (including iTunes and QuickTime) require updating. If updates are available, another Software Update window appears, listing those updates. Check the updates you'd like to acquire, and click the Install button. Software Update downloads the updates, installs them, and (if necessary) instructs you to restart your Mac.

Windows users must be running Windows XP or 2000 on a 500 MHz Pentium-class processor or better, and 128 MB of RAM or more is recommended. To purchase music you must also have iTunes 4.5 or later and QuickTime 6.4 or later installed. (The current version of QuickTime—6.5.2 as we go to press—is included with iTunes for Windows.)

Although you can access The Store via any Internet connection, you'll find it far more fun to shop with a broadband connection. A four-minute song weighs in at around 4 MB. Such a download over a DSL or cable connection takes next to no time at all but can be terribly slow over a poky modem connection.

Because you've bothered to read a book titled Secrets of the iPod and iTunes, I assume that you have more than a passing interest in Apple'sportable music device. Although it's not necessary to have an iPod to take advantage of The Store—music purchased at the store can be played on your computer and burned to CD—the iPod technically is the only portable music player capable of playing music purchased at The Store. (I'll show you how to skirt this limitation later in the chapter.) Okay, yes, Apple has cut a deal with Motorola to allow some of that company's phones to play tunes purchased from The Store, but in my book, a phone that stores a limited number of tunes hardly counts as a portable music player (though as phones begin to offer gigabytes of storage, the phones and I will both change our tunes).

Limited for Your Protection

Earlier in the chapter, I suggested that for commercial online music distribution to be successful, the interests of both consumers and the music industry must be addressed. If an overzealous copy-protection scheme keeps consumers from playing their purchases on different devices, those consumers will look for less limited (and, perhaps, less savory) ways to obtain music online. And if consumers can share purchased music easily across the Internet, music companies will lose money and quickly withdraw support for the service.

With every intention of creating a successful distribution system, Apple has tried to address the desires of both consumers and the music industry. Consumers should be pleased that they're allowed to play music purchased at The Store on a variety of devices: computer; portable music player (the iPod); and any commercial CD player, including the ones in your home stereo, boom box, and car. And the music industry's fears of rampant piracy should be calmed because consumers can play that music on a limited number of computers; purchased music files are linked to the person who purchased them; only so many copies of a particular playlist can be burned to CD; and by default, the only music player that can play that music is the iPod.

Following are the specific restrictions Apple imposes on purchased music:

  • Purchased music is encoded in a protected version of Dolby Laboratories' Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, which bears the .m4p extension (versus the .m4a extension of the standard AAC files that iTunes 4 can create). These files are encoded in a way that makes pirating difficult.

  • You may play purchased music on up to five computers, which can be a mix of Macs and Windows PCs. All these computers must be authorized by Apple. If you attempt to play purchased music on an unauthorized computer, you'll be instructed to register the computer online before you can play the music. I describe the ins and outs of authorization later in this chapter.

  • You may burn up to seven CD copies of a particular playlist that contains purchased music. When you change that playlist—add or subtract a song, for example—you may burn another seven copies. Change the playlist again for another seven burns.

  • You cannot burn purchased music on CDs formatted as MP3 discs.

  • The name and Apple ID of the person who purchased the music are embedded in each purchased song. Apple does this to discourage buyers from making those songs widely available on the Web (and to trace songs to the rightful owner, should they find their way to the Web).

  • You can download purchased music one time. If you need to download it again—because your hard drive crashed, for example, and you lost your music library—you must purchase it again. This is reason enough to back up your music library (preferably by burning it to CD).

  • All purchases are final. If you download Highway 9's “Heroine,” thinking that it's the Velvet Underground's “Heroin,” you're stuck with it.

  • You can play purchased music on as many iPods as you like, as long as those iPods are running iPod Software 1.3 Updater or later. Earlier versions of the iPod software won't recognize AAC-encoded music (either standard AAC encoding or the protected AAC format used for purchased music).

Signing On

Creating an account at The Store isn't difficult. Just follow these steps:

Make sure that your computer can get onto the Internet.

Configuring your computer to access the Internet is beyond the scope of this book. I suggest, however, that if you don't have an always-on Internet connection (a DSL, cable, or satellite broadband connection), you should configure your modem so that it automatically dials into your ISP when an application such as iTunes needs to get onto the Web.

Launch iTunes 4.

Click the Music Store entry in iTunes' Source list (Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1. The iTunes Music Store in the Source list.

Your computer will venture out onto the Web and connect to The Store. When The Store is ready for action, its interface will appear in iTunes' main window.

Click the Sign In button in the top-right corner of the iTunes window (Figure 4.2).

Figure 4.2. Click the Sign In button to create an Apple ID.

In the resulting window, you'll have the opportunity to create an account or enter your Apple ID and password or your AOL screen name and password.

This AOL business is relatively new. Apple and AOL recently formed a strategic alliance whereby AOL members can log onto The Store with nothing more than their screen name and password. Any purchases these folks make are charged to the credit cards they use to pay their monthly AOL fees.

This same alliance placed links to The Store within AOL and made Sessions@AOL recordings—live performances by a few of today's popular artists—available to customers of The Store.

It's possible that you already have an Apple ID. If you've made a purchase at the online Apple Store, for example, or bought pictures through iPhoto, you've signed up for Apple's 1-Click shopping system. Not long ago, Apple converted 1-Click accounts to Apple ID accounts. Your user name and password for your 1-Click account is now your Apple ID.

If you have either an Apple ID and password or an AOL screen name and password, enter them and click the Sign In button; otherwise, click the Create Account button.

If you click Create Account, you'll be given a brief rundown on what you can do at The Store and asked to agree to The Store's terms and conditions.

Agree to the terms and conditions to move to the next page, where you'll create an Apple ID. Far be it for me to suggest that you forgo reading a document by which you'll be legally bound, but the fact is that unless you agree to the terms spelled out on this screen, you'll be barred from shopping at The Store.

In the next window (Figure 4.3), you'll do the following:

  • Enter a valid email address in the Email Address field.

  • Concoct a hard-to-guess password, and place it in both the Password and Verify fields.

  • Enter a question and answer that can help Apple identify you, if need be. You might enter “How many telephone poles does it take to reach the moon?” in the Question field, for example, and answer it with “One, if it's long enough.”

  • Use the Month and Day pop-up menus to enter your month and date of birth, which also help Apple identify you.

  • If you don't want to receive emailed marketing material from Apple, uncheck both the options in the I Would Like to Receive the Following Via Email section.

  • If you want to view Apple's privacy policy, click the Privacy Policy button.

Figure 4.3. Enter your email address and a hard- to-guess password on this screen.

Click the Continue button to move to the Credit Card and Address screen, where you enter your Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover number and contact information, including name, address, and phone number.

Click Done.

You're a member in good standing at The Store. From now on, your account name should appear in the Account field in the top-right corner of the iTunes window when you click the Music Store entry in the Source list.

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