Sony’s Connect Music Offers Little Value

The Washington Posts’ Rob Pegoraro is pretty critical of Sony’s continuing mistakes in digital music…Hard to blame him, this sounds like a painful system to use, even if the price is right on the players and media. Why bother?

But the store’s advertised selection of “more than 500,000” songs is missing a concert stage’s worth of major artists — to name a handful, Missy Elliott, Norah Jones, the Replacements, Liz Phair and Los Lobos. Even some of Sony’s own artists are largely absent: Connect’s Bruce Springsteen collection consists of a measly nine albums, not counting a few re-releases.

The tool you must use to download and manage your purchases, Sony’s Sonic Stage (Windows 98 SE or newer), is a bloated, bug-ridden beast of a program. It ploddingly searches through the store’s catalogue as if it were a card catalogue, while its space-wasting interface requires constant scrolling within its own window. It can’t copy CDs in MP3 format, and it defaults to storing music in an invisible, deeply buried sub-directory.

Connect permits an unlimited number of transfers to portable players — except for songs from Warner Music Group’s labels, which are restricted to three transfers. Ever.

Similar control-freak behavior ensues when you move purchased songs to the other two PCs you’re allotted at any one time: Those copies lose all their transfer and CD-burning permissions. Sony says an upcoming software update will restore transfer rights, but not disc burning, to those copies.

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