Well, as everyone already posted, the Apple Music announcement is out. Here are some initial impressions.

iTunes 4 is slick and the music store works well – at least the browsing/previewing part. So far only US residents can buy music; it remains to be seen whether this is due to legal complications with music licensing or to prevent credit card fraud (foreign cards can’t be checked online, it seems). Either way, it may be some time before this restriction is lifted, unfortunately.

The music store, supposedly, has over 200K songs at present. Even so, there are significant holes in the lineup. I spent about 3 hours browsing and, while I found many old friends, nearly as many are among the missing… my tastes are, admittedly, somewhat unorthodox. Of course, they’re working on expanding the list.

I’m doubtful about prices. I checked several dozen albums I already own and they were all within the $10-12 price range; adding $1 for a reasonable-quality blank CD (blanks cost from $0.50 to $2 in Brazil) puts an album in the exact price range I’d normally pay for them in the US. On one hand, the store-bought CDs have liner notes, jewel cases, and so forth; on the other hand, downloading is much easier and previewing all songs is a big plus. Unfortunately, many albums I checked were “partial albums”, meaning that you have to buy each song individually; at $0.99 for a song, that’s less attractive.

It remains to be seen how this will work for newly issued music. Can any artist just e-mail Apple and publish stuff, or do the “Big Five” labels have a monopoly on what appears in the music store? Initial public reaction seems to be quite positive; let’s see what the artists say.