Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

I Was Wrong About iTunes

I've complained before about iTunes seeming preference for locking in file formats. I have loaded many of my CD's into iTunes and have also purchased some music from the iTunes store.

I've created a variety of playlists from music I've imported from my own CD's -- things like "Classical Guitar," "Classical Chestnuts," "Lord of the Rings Favorites," etc.

But when I've gone to burn these as MP3's onto CD's I kept getting an error message saying something like, "Songs are not in a format that iTunes can burn."

I thought this was evidence that iTunes was preventing an export from AAC to MP3, since most of the CD's I'd imported went in as AAC -- Apple's "protected" format.

I then found that the same thing happened when I imported my old CD's as WAV files. Same error message when I tried to burn them as MP3s. After all, there's nothing like having three hours worth of Diana Krall on one CD!

None of the iTunes documentation helped -- it clearly stated that burning unprotected MP3's was possible, but I couldn't find out what I was doing wrong.

Turns out you have to first create the MP3's by converting the CD files to MP3 format, THEN you can burn them onto a CD. My mistake was thinking that selecting the "burn MP3" format also meant that the files types (assuming they were not AAC's purchased from iTunes) also converted them from the source format at the same time.

So this is not as bad as I thought originally. It's certainly not optimal -- I still have to worry about what file format I store things in and since I haven't imported my old CD's as MP3's I have to convert them to burn them as MP3's, which means another step, and another hassle.

I also am still not decided about whether to go to an iPod for music storage. I'm still worried about the proprietary nature of the AAC format. I totally understand the advantages of controlling hardware and software from Apple's perspective, but for me, the fact that I have to keep track of two separate formats in order to be able to do certain things -- with the music I've already purchased -- is a real turnoff.

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