Updated 5 March 22 58:07 UTC
The developers behind the Ubuntu One Music Store have put a FAQ online, which I’ve reproduced below. I’ve been beta testing the store out for a few days and have bought some singles and albums directly in Rhythmbox. In fact I think I was the first person to buy an album in the store 😀 It works really well, but clearly it’s not quite finished. There’s also a lot of rumour and misunderstanding around the store, so it’s great to see the developers putting this information out there.
Note: Just running Ubuntu Lucid Alpha 3 will not enable the online store. You need to be a beta tester to get the ‘magic’ that makes the store work.
Q: What will be the store’s name?
The store is called the Ubuntu One Music Store.
Q: How is Ubuntu getting access to popular music?
For the Ubuntu One Music Store, our primary goals are to 1) provide a wide selection of popular songs to users and 2) enable Ubuntu users around the world to have access to these songs. Among the partners evaluated, we chose 7digital because they had the largest selection of songs available without digital rights management (DRM) for the most regions around the world.
Q: What desktop application will include the Ubuntu One Music Store?
The standard Ubuntu music player, Rhythmbox, will be used for the music store. We know that people still want choice in their music player application so The Ubuntu One Music Store was developed as a plug-in that can be re-used in some other music applications. We have received approval from the music labels for the Ubuntu One Music Store to be embedded within Banshee, Amarok, and a few other applications. Please contact the Ubuntu One Music Store team for information about this process and implementation support.
Q: How is this different than Jamendo and Magnatune?
Jamendo and Magnature will remain in the Rhythmbox music player. These are both great sources for creative commons and open licensed songs. The Ubuntu One Music Store extends the catalog of music available to Ubuntu users and will include mostly songs from minor and major label artists. These are songs that you typically find on the shelves of your favorite record shop…except in a downloadable format.
Q: What are the details about the music in the Ubuntu One Music Store?
Songs purchased through the Ubuntu One Music Store are available in high quality 256 kbps (sometimes higher) MP3 audio encoding and without digital rights management (DRM). MP3 purchases can be:
- burned to a CD any number of times
- played through any software on any type of computer that you own that supports MP3
- synced to any MP3-enabled device such as a portable music player
You may occasionally find songs in WMA format. We’re working with our partner to remove these songs from the Ubuntu One Music Store. Until this is resolved, we don’t recommend purchasing these songs in this format. An MP3 version can typically be found by using the store’s search feature.
Update 27 Feb, 2010: There will be no embedded ‘watermarks’ of any kind on the MP3s in the Ubuntu One Music Store.
Some have asked for songs in other formats such as Ogg Vorbis or FLAC. Acquiring popular songs in this format was not possible at this time, but Canonical will continue to look for future opportunities to improve the quality of the songs found in the Ubuntu One Music Store.
Q: What are the ‘system requirements’?
If your computer can run Ubuntu 10.04, has Rhythmbox installed, can play sounds and connect to the Internet, then you are ready to use the Ubuntu One Music Store.
Q: Will these downloads play on my iPod or portable media player?
The MP3 format is widely supported on portable media players such as the iPod. Rhythmbox works with most portable media players without additional configuration and a Rhythmbox plug-in (libgpod) is available that provides support for most iPods.
Q: What are the features of the Ubuntu One Music Store?
The Ubuntu One Music Store has features that users expect from an online store.
- Search by artist, album, or track
- Browse recommendations and genres
- Discover new releases or just released songs each week
- A convenient shopping basket
- Support for a variety of payment options
Q: How is the store related to Ubuntu One?
An Ubuntu One account is required to purchase songs from the Ubuntu One Music Store. Ubuntu One accounts are free and come with 2 GB of personal cloud storage. Purchased songs are automatically transferred to your cloud storage, synchronized to all of your computers, and added to Rhythmbox. Customers will find a new library that contains purchases from the Ubuntu One Music Store. You can also fetch your music from your personal cloud storage through a web browser, just like all your other files.
Integrating the Ubuntu One Music Store with Ubuntu One gives consumers the security of online backup as well as convenience of auto-synchronization.
Please note that Ubuntu One synchronization does not support users who connect to the Internet through a proxy server. These users will need to download their purchases from the Ubuntu One website and manually add songs to their Rhythmbox library.
Q: What does it mean by x downloads remaining?
The Ubuntu One Music Store’s partnership with the music labels limits the number of times customers can download a purchased song from the music store to three (3). While this gives people some security in case of catastrophe, additional downloads should not be necessary as purchases are backed-up in the customers’s Ubuntu One personal cloud. The initial transfer from the music store to a customer’s Ubuntu One personal cloud will count as one (1) download. Any synchronization of purchased songs stored in your Ubuntu One personal cloud to any number of your computers does not count against the music store’s download limit. Clicking to download again will transfer songs to your Ubuntu One personal cloud again and will deduct from the downloads remaining. Customers shouldn’t need to do this though unless they delete the song from their cloud storage.
Q: What regions of the world will be able to purchase songs?
Most popular songs are licensed by territory (basically by country). Our starting territories will be the UK, US, Germany, the rest of the EU (EU countries outside of the UK and Germany), and the rest of the world (countries outside the EU and US). Customers who use the EU store will have access to purchase songs from two of the four major labels. Customers who use the World store will have access to purchase songs from independent labels.
Update 27 Feb, 2010: Perhaps we could have been a bit more clear about this. Customers who use the UK, US, and Germany stores will have access to purchase songs from all major and independent music labels.
Canonical will analyze usage of the EU and Rest of World stores after the 10.04 launch to decide which territories would be best for expansion. Watch the Ubuntu One blog in the months following the launch of Ubuntu 10.04 for more information.
Q: How do independent artists from the Ubuntu community get their songs into the store?
The Ubuntu One Music Store has great potential for the Ubuntu community and we want members to be able to contribute their own works (especially if it was produced on Ubuntu) to the store. Our partner, 7digital, works with various digital distribution companies that represent artists. Here are a few that you can contact to get your songs added to the 7digital catalog and the Ubuntu One Music Store.
Q: I’ve found a bug. I have a great feature. What do I do?
Please submit bugs and feature requests to the Ubuntu One Music Store project in Launchpad. The development team monitors this area and reads all messages.
Q: Where do I get help?
Customer support is available by clicking on the Help button in the Ubuntu One Music Store.
Q: Ubuntu can’t play MP3s out of the box so how will we play purchased songs?
Canonical has put effort into making the customer experience as effortless as possible. When you visit the Ubuntu One Music Store, it will detect if you have MP3 support installed. If you don’t, the store will install the Fluendo MP3 plugin for GStreamer. The MP3 plugin is distributed worldwide at no charge under a license from Fluendo. An Internet connection is required.
Q: How can I install and test the store?
The store isn’t quite ready for wider testing. Watch this area or the Ubuntu One blog for more details coming soon.