Everybody knows by now that iTMS has arrived in Europe now. In heartland 'Old Europe' and the UK, that is. This whole licensing crap indicates that the whole music industry needs to be burnt and rebuilt globalised. These aren't the 1390s.
Looks like Apple even puts up ads in German streets. Quite a novel concept for them. These may be ads, but they just look much better than most others. Fews colours, no clutter, way to go.
That said, the iTMS Europe experience isn't thrilling at all. Most of the music is missing. Particularly the interesting stuff. This is probably due to the indie labels not signing up. The reasons I saw quoted for that on the web were that Apple wanted to force them into long contracts and not let them review the prices for a long while. Do they really think they'll be able to rise prices after a year? I am sure they'd love to do it but profits for labels on this must be brilliant already and prices should go down... While usually I am all for indie labels and against big corporations, I find the labels looking like the dickhead in this case.
So we're left with a two-tier iTMS right now: OK choice in the US, and the leftovers for everyone else who's lucky enough to get anything at all. The local content for Germany isn't too great either. Many German bands aren't present and choice isn't too big for those that are. Quite a few of those present are notably crap as well.
Just to illustrate the difference in choice. Of my favourite compilation CD, by now iTMS/US can provide 17 of the 22 tracks (and the 22nd was a free download from the 'net anyway). That's not too bad. iTMS/Germany only 'stocks' six of the tracks.
I hope this will improve. Soon. In particular, this whole multi-store concept breaks existing links to iTMS. With iTunes defaulting to the German store, say, iTunes will simply spawn an error message on trying to open a link to a song that isn't available here. Apple obviously didn't think this through. Now you can't reasonably link to iTMS at all.
And while I disapprove of the whole DRM crap, I wanted to blow my 99 cents and get myself a track. It's just that I didn't find any track that I want and don't already have. And that single Pixies track they offer in Germany sounds rather lame in the preview.
While trying out my iTMS links I saw the following: The last track of the Kings of Leon album has a 'hidden track' on it. Apple simply seem to have ripped the whole track – judging from it's length including the abomination that is the gap used to 'hide' those tracks. Stupid or careless? Yes. This hidden track is quite cool on the vinyl, btw. You actually have to lift the pick up over a little gap before being able to play it.
Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.