Have you ever played the trust game where you put your arms across your chest and fall back toward someone behind you in hope they catch you? If you have, then you'll know that putting a pile of cushions on the floor first ruins the game just as much as looking behind you as you fall. iTunes Plus is a bit like this - a trust game where one of the participants lost their nerve.


Two things that annoy me: the first is being widely reported - the fact that your email is implanted into the DRM-free track. That's just silly - sure it's a pester to people to stay honest, but if you (and Apple and EMI) think about it, you'll realise that it's honest people who'll be buying tracks from iTunes in the first place.

The step to abandon DRM was lauded as a moment when EMI realised it had to trust its customers. What this move effectively does is mark its customers. It's not even foolproof, side-stepping this silly level of protection is as simple as exporting the track into a different format.

The best protection labels have is trust. File-sharing seems set to continue - labels need to build and reinforce their existing market. By refusing to fall back into the arms of the audience, iTunes Plus shows its lack of trust in its customers.

I agree it's still a step forward, though, and I'm putting it down to growing pains. We have to teach labels to trust us again. And we are doing - legal online music sales are shooting through the roof.

The second iTunes Plus failure isn't quite attracting such attention. It's the upgrade feature for existing tracks.

I was looking forward to this feature - but I'm very disappointed at its implementation.

You see, after the EMI Apple DRM-free announcement I happily ran off to iTunes to purchase the album by the utterly fantastic The Good, The Bad and The Queen. I'm very happy with the album, it kept me going through a particularly difficult April. It's a fine piece of music.

I bought the music in full expectation I'd be able to pay later to upgrade it to the new (almost) DRM-free, high-quality format.

This seems less likely now.

When iTunes was finally updated with the new "Plus" service (which took a day), there was a smile on my face.

I sparked up iTunes and worked my way through to the iTunes Plus upgrade page, quivering with excitement. To say I was salivating is over the top, but I was looking forward to owning the high quality version of this album.

(I really love this album. It's by The Good, The Bad and The Queen. I think everyone should buy it, did I mention this?)

I was excited for a while; now I'm mortified.

See, the only way I can upgrade the album I love and have already paid for is to upgrade each and every iTunes purchase I have ever made of any EMI act.

That regurgitated stat that iPod users carry only 25 iTunes tracks on their music player - that's not me.

I own 1,675 iTunes tracks.

13 of those tracks are by the band I want to upgrade.

While not all these tracks are EMI acts, many are. To upgrade the 13 tracks I want to upgrade today, I was being asked for £27.

That's £27 to upgrade an album I have ALREADY purchased for FULL ASKING PRICE.

For less than £10, I can got to a shop and buy it in pristine CD-quality, free of rights protection and without my personal details attached to every track I rip into iTunes.

Look, some of the EMI tracks I own - I don't like them as much any more. Low quality rights-protected is fine for me. I can listen to them and feel all legal. That's fine.

Other tracks I'll love forever, acts like Pink Floyd, Afro-Celt Sound System, Blur, Graham Coxon and Hawkwind, for example. I want to upgrade these tracks one day when I can afford to spend the cash.

Put simply I'm no billionaire journalist. I don't even have a pension. I'd like to have both. I, like most humans, juggle constantly between getting by and poverty.

This visit all I wanted to upgrade was The Good, The Bad and The Queen.

But being forced to upgrade ALL the tracks I have ever purchased, isn't consumer choice, it's a shake down. Not quite a rip-off, but the online equivalent of a parking ticket.

It means I'm being taxed for loving music and musicians enough to be willing to buy music legitimately.

The third thing that annoys me - I want to be able to choose between a high-res track and a protected download, if the alternative exists, I want full access to it. The fact that iTunes only lets you choose one or the other (unless you go through the torture of changing your account preferences) is a denial of that choice.

I'm all for iTunes, the iPod and the digital music evolution. I respect EMI for choosing to emulate the independent labels and sell music DRM-free.

But as it stands, Apple and EMI have failed the trust game, scattering cushions on the floor before they take their fall and showing they aren't yet ready to fully trust their customers.

And if people don't point this out, then the other labels will never, ever, ever learn what trusting customers actually means.

I do hope Apple or EMI drop me a line when I can upgrade the album (by The Good, The Bad and The Queen) without having to upgrade everything. I'll be sure to report it.

Meanwhile, if Damon Albarn is around, I'd like to meet, chat, and find out what he thinks about it all.