FAQ: How the iTunes Music Store works

With the Australian debut of Apple's iTunes Music Store today, we answer the questions of iPod owners around the country.

iTunes Australia
With the Australian debut of Apple's iTunes Music Store today, we answer the questions of iPod owners around the country.

How many songs are available for download through iTunes in Australia?
Apple claims over 1 million songs are available through its Australian online store at the time of launch. Telstra's BigPond Music on the other hand, has about 500,000 .

What about video content for my new iPod? I want to download Desperate Housewives!
At the time of launch, there are no US-based shows such as Seven's Desperate Housewives or Lost. Although according to Apple, there are 1,000 music video clips and six short Pixar animations available for download from launch.

How much does it cost?
Singles are priced at AU$1.69, entire albums generally cost AU$16.99 (but price can fluctuate a little) and video clips cost AU$3.39.

Do I need a credit card to sign up for an account?
You can sign up for an Apple iTunes account with a debit or credit card, so long as it's a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card issued by a bank in Australia.

Can I preview songs for free?
Yes, iTunes allows you to listen to a 30 second sample of any song for free -- simply double-click it.

Why is my favourite pop artist missing from iTMS?
Apple launched its iTunes Music Store without the support of Sony BMG Music, which has artists such as Alex Lloyd, Pete Murray, Franz Ferdinand and Alicia Keys on its roster. Australian Idols Guy Sebastian, Casey Donovan, Anthony Callea and Shannon Noll are signed to Sony BMG and therefore not available.

Why isn't Sony BMG coming to the party?
CNET.com.au understands that Apple is still negotiating with Sony BMG for its music catalogue. Apple's iTunes vice-president Eddy Cue only had this to say at the launch: "We are working with Sony and we know their artists would like to be a part of the launch and we hope they will join us."

I downloaded the wrong song. Can I get a refund on my purchase?
All sales via the iTunes Music Store are final so you can not cancel a purchase or get a refund once a song is downloaded.

I want to let my kids download music using iTunes but I'm worried about huge credit card bills at the end of the month.
If you're feeling generous, you can securely set up a monthly iTunes allowance using your credit card from AU$20 to AU$200.

Is there any way I can give iTunes credit as a gift?
Gift certificates from AU$20 to AU$200 can be purchased through the iTunes Music Store and either printed or e-mailed to the recipient. iTunes Music Cards in AU$20, AU$50 and AU$100 denominations are also available through Coles, Myer, Megamart, BI-LO, Pick 'n' Pay Hypermarket, Kmart, Target, Officeworks and Harris Technology.

Why are some albums only available "by song only"?
We're not too sure about the reasoning behind this, but it seems a bit backwards to us. In effect, if there are 15 tracks on a release, the album ends costing AU$25.35 instead of usual AU$16.99. At this price, you're better off going into Kmart to get the album for less.

Everything is showing up in British pounds / American dollars. Where is the Australian store?
You can switch stores by clicking the drop-down box at the bottom of the page or clicking on the flag icon. However, you'll only be allowed to purchase music from the country in which your account is based.

What format is the music stored in?
Protected MPEG-4 container files with encoded AAC streams (*.m4p) at 128kbps. Every song purchased from iTMS is encoded in Apple's Fairplay digital rights management (DRM) that is built into the QuickTime technology used in iTunes and iPod music players. Fairplay digitally encrypts AAC audio files so that they can only be played back on authorised computers.

How popular are iPods in Australia?
According to Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPod product marketing, Apple had 68 percent of the entire MP3 market in Australia in August -- which doesn't take into account the September release of the iPod Nano.

Can I still burn CDs with songs I've purchased from the music store?
Apple's Fairplay technology allows you to burn up to seven CDs with a static playlist. Once a new playlist is created, a further seven discs can be burned again.

What Australian artists are featured?
While you're not going to find any Australian Idols on iTunes (Sony BMG has most of them signed to its label), we've come across Ben Lee, Missy Higgins, The Veronicas, Paul Mac, INXS, Kylie, The Dissociatives, John Butler Trio and Sarah Blasko.

What do I need to get the most out of iTunes?
You'll need the iTunes music software, an iPod or Motorola Rokr E1 and a love of music.