A Review of Sony’s Music Store, Connect.com, Where Downloading MP3s Isn’t Easy

My husband recently bought a Sony MP3 player and insists on using the Sony Music Store located at www.connect.com. “Why not?” I wondered to myself. “Their prices are competitive, so go ahead.” Big mistake. Not only does Sony makes it hard to purchase the music, it’s nearly impossible to listen to other than on the MP3 player.

To download music and albums, you must first download the required software, the “Connect Player” also known as Sony’s SonicStage. My husband installed it on his laptop and immediately began buying albums from Sony’s Music Store. But paying for the music was not an easy task. For some reason, the website did not accept our Bank of America card but seemed to like my USAA card. The problem here is that the Bank of America account is our everyday spending account and the USAA account generally only has enough money in it to cover the house payment. Now that my husband is buying songs and albums and using money from this account, I have to manage it and make sure to transfer additional funds into it so my house payment gets made. To me, that’s a pain I don’t need.

Since I’m unhappy with the payment arrangement and figured my husband maybe entered the Bank of America information in wrong, I decided to log in and see if I could change it. He used my email account as the user name and we came up with a password together so I should have full access right? Wrong. I fired up my computer and headed over to connect.com. Much to my surprise, there was no “log in” link to be found! Instead, I too had to download the Connect Player. This annoyed me because I have a previous version of SonicStage on my pc and that should’ve been good enough. But no, I was forced to upgrade to the current version. Fine, I followed the prompts and upgraded.

In order to get to Sony’s log in screen, you must first start the software; you can’t just go to a website and log in. I found this out from sheer frustration but did finally figure that out. I finally was able to click on the log in link and got the following error: Runtime error! This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way. Blah, blah, blahâÂ?¦..

So here I am now, unable to log in to make a simple change to the account or purchase music. Grrrr….. deep breath. Ok fine, I’ll live with him charging music to the USAA account. No big deal.

Another problem with the software is for whatever reason, the CD burner on my husband’s laptop is not recognized by Sony’s SonicStage. This is annoying because it’s a Sony VAIO laptop running Sony software but it appears incompatible. His CD burner works fine in other applications, just not this one. So he downloads all this music but is unable to burn it to CD. I installed Nero’s latest edition to his laptop so he could copy the music files via Nero but Nero doesn’t support Sony’s music format! So burning a CD outside of the Sony software is impossible.

In a moment of brilliance, I suggested we hook up the MP3 player to my desktop and burn the music to my CD burner. Well, what do you know? The Sony music files are licensed only for my husband’s laptop. If I want to play them on my computer and use my computer to burn them to CD, I need to purchase a second license for them as well! First of all, I couldn’t purchase them even if I wanted to because of the strange runtime error I get trying to log in. Secondly, I shouldn’t have to pay twice. And finally, the Sony Music Store is so user-unfriendly that I refuse to troubleshoot either of our computers to configure the software until it works. Instead, we will download and purchase our MP3 music from the competition.

What really annoys me the most is that my husband purchased the new Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album. This is one of my favorite bands and I can’t listen to it unless I want to don headphones and fiddle with the MP3 player. Trust me, that’s not how I choose to listen to music. I want to hear it on my stereo or in the car, not blasting into my sensitive ears through headphones. So instead, I guess I’m going to have to cruise down to the local music store and buy it the old fashioned way. At least, I can use my regular bank account to pay for it.

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