MacOS X A/V Software
MPlayer is a great little media player that plays a lot of the codecs that aren't part of the default QuickTime player. It is a port from the Linux version. There is a fair amount of work done on Quicktime Components for new codecs such as DivX Video and Ogg Vorbis. It is nice to see some progress here. I wish I could find the time to help out. I have always enjoyed working with codecs and audio in general. On a related front, I am seeing more and more clues towards Akai supporting Ak.Sys on MacOS X sometime in the future. Akai is working on a Virtual Z8 Sampler for the AudioUnit and VSTi plug-in formats, which, naturally, needs similar functionality as Ak.Sys provides to the hardware samplers. So, it looks like the days of MacOS 9 are coming to an end.
Valid Music Metadata
Every time I talk to anyone about building an online music service, they always state that their service is better because they provide more accurate metadata. Real Networks tracked user habits with RealJukebox to gather metadata. MP3.com had a whole staff dedicated to entering album covers into a database. Now, Apple seems to have spend a lot of time on this as well. The biggest issue with P2P File Sharing networks is that you really have to know the name of the artist and song you want to be able to download it. Even when you get it to download, it might not even be what it was advertised as. There are a few companies and projects that specialize are attempting to resolve this problem. Companies such as AgentArts, All Music Guide and Bitzi provide different relationships and data to find new tunes of interest. RealNetworks buying Listen.com might have been a metadata play as well. Listen.com's directory was quite large before they launched Rhapsody. So there has to be a fair amount of demand. I really hope we can get MusicBrainz off the ground, since this would help everyone down the line. The labels apparently do not seem to have this information readily available and if they did, they most likely wouldn't be giving it out for free. If this information is available in some open form, then everyone would benefit and it would make it a lot easier to catalog our collections and share our experiences.
DRM: Everyone is doing it. Even consumers?
There will always be attempts to beat the system when you put such a large quantity of music online. That shows that people are interested in better quality and ease of use then they are finding through the P2P File Sharing clients. Or they are looking for content that isn't as readily available through them such as new releases. To get a good understanding of what the Apple Music Store provides, you might want to hop over to TidBits and read their comprehensive review. So far, on the surface, it looks pretty good. I haven't seen any reports of anyone looking under the hood, though. And I haven't had the time to look at how secure the process is myself. Security was of high priority for My.MP3.com. I can't imagine it being any different here. I don't recall many reports on spoofing MusicNet, Rhapsody or PressPlay either. I am not sure how much you can restrict consumers rights on content that they legally obtained. I have a hard time finding a proper balance. Michael, on the other hand, seems to have an opinion on the subject. You might be interested in this comparison between the Apple Music Store and Emusic as well.