In which our intrepid hero pretends to enjoy music.

Not long before I left for Queensland early last December, I bit the bullet and bought myself a genuine iPod.

I try to avoid brand names where possible—you often end up paying extra for little added functionality—but since my old MP3 player was busted, and had a bit of extra cash, I shelled out for an 80GB Classic. Although larger than its siblings, it will eventually hold my entire CD collection, as well as a bunch of podcasts I’ll probably never get around to hearing.

It’ll also hold Mim K/W’s, which is important because although her 3-cylinder Daihatsu Charade lacks aircon, a CD player or a working tape deck, it does have a radio—and a third-party iPod FM transmitter gives us a de facto in-car MP3 player.

So far, it’s been going really well. As expected, it works seamlessly with iTunes, which makes keeping up-to-date with the aforementioned podcasts a breeze.

Just one thing bothers me. Check that—it’s really beginning to piss me off.

Part of the software—the iTunes Store—allows you to download songs or entire albums for a nominal fee. However, it’s compartmentalised by country, and by default, I can only access the Australian store. This is where it gets thorny.

Whether it’s due to some quirk of the commercial arrangements between Apple and the record companies, or some obscure inadequacy of Australia’s byzantine IP laws, the Australian store is significantly less complete than its overseas counterparts.

Whereas an English or American fan could download complete back-catalogues for Metallica or Skunk Anansie, in Australia, we’re limited to only a handful of songs each. And if you’re looking for a new artist, you can just about forget it.

I regularly read the mental_floss blog; a recent article introduced an upcoming artist by the name Yoav. With just his guitar, he can create soundscapes that rival almost any four-piece band you could name, and this talent scored him a place opening for Tori Amos’ recent US-wide tour.

He released his debut album late last month, and it’s getting rave reviews on either side of the Atlantic. It’s up on iTunes, if you’re lucky enough to live in a country where iTunes isn’t restricted merely to schmaltzy Top-40 crap and local facsimiles thereof.

Of course, since no one in Australia has heard of him yet, none of the local alternatives to iTunes have his music either. It’s not an issue of geographical isolation—if I had access to his music on iTunes, then I could easily download it—so I can’t help but feel as if I’m being discriminated against.

Apparently, it’s a bad thing to have taste and live in the arse end of the world.

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