iTunes auf Deutsch! Downloading German music-legally
Would you like to explore the world of modern German music? Would you like to download rock, pop, or rap songs in German? How about watching a German music video online? Well, I just did all that, and boy was it fun!
Apple must have been listening to the complaints of U.S. fans of German music, who for a long time could only get a tantalizing look at, and even listen to, songs and albums by German (and Austrian) artists, but could not buy any of it from Apple's American iTunes Music Store. This frustration has now lessened for Mac and Windows users, but not entirely.
A recent visit to the U.S. iTunes Music Store was a pleasant surprise. I found music and songs in German by many contemporary and traditional bands and artists from Austria, Germany, and German Switzerland. And I could buy what I saw/heard! There were albums and songs by DIE PRINZEN, FALCO, HERBERT GRÖNEMEYER, the PUHDYS, MÜNCHNER FREIHEIT, and even HEINO. (You'll also find audiobooks in German, language courses, and German comedy recordings available for download.) I discovered just about every type of music in German-from classical to rap, from Christmas to country-western-ready for listening and purchase. Soon I had downloaded (and paid for) an eclectic mix ranging from "Deutschland" by DIE PRINZEN to "Ring aus Feuer" (think Johnny Cash) by the Austrian WOLFGANG AMBROS. As I type these words, my computer is playing music by RAMMSTEIN ("Amerika"), UDO LINDENBERG ("Ich habe noch einen Koffer in Berlin"), and the interesting Belgian group SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS ("Schrei nach Liebe")-all downloaded from the American iTunes Music Store. Mac or Windows users can then create CDs with the downloaded German songs or any mix they want. If I had an iPod, I could also transfer these songs to it and listen anywhere I go.
A Few More Surprises - Good and Bad
Although residents of Germany and Austria can download iTunes music from just about any German recording artist there is, we U.S. residents have to be content with slimmer pickings. If you want to download songs by Die Fantastischen Vier, Rosenstolz, or Die Ärzte, ("Die beste Band der Welt") you'll have to be in Germany. You can easily switch to the German iTunes Music Store and listen to songs by those artists, but when you try to download a song or album, U.S. residents get this unwelcome message: "Your account is only valid for songs from the U.S. iTunes Store." But at least you can listen to 30-second samples of the German songs.
Even for artists in German that are found in the U.S. store, not all of the albums or songs by that artist may be offered. Some albums are "partial," with only a few selected songs available from iTunes, but that is also true of the normal American or British recording artists. However, what IS there is a lot better than what was available earlier (pretty much nothing).
There is no "German Songs" menu section in the U.S. iTunes store (there is a "German Pop" category, but you'll need help finding it; see "Tips Part 2"), so I started with a search by the artist's name or a song title. Sometimes I just typed in a common German word ("liebe, freiheit") to see what results would pop up. As I explored the German offerings with this method in the U.S. store, I stumbled onto interesting things I may not have found otherwise. "Schrei nach Liebe" is a good example. Turns out the iTunes version I downloaded is a cover version by a Belgian girls choir of that Ärzte song, and the Germans are raving about how the ladies took a metallic song (they also did "Engel" by Rammstein) and turned it into something very different but still cool. After downloading "Amerika" by Rammstein, I discovered that it's in the German Top 10 charts (Oct. 2004) and that iTunes has a music video version! (Free and in stunning quality with a high-speed connection!)
Tips and Tricks
In the next section I'll offer some tips and tricks for finding German songs at the U.S. iTunes Music Store, with screen shots, artists lists, links, and other neat stuff-including music videos in German. Note: iTunes also works great for subscribing and listening to podcasts in German!