MP3’s not a crowd (Day 82)…

I didn’t exactly grow up in the vinyl era but I was around for the cassette (in fact, somewhere in my closet is a dusty stack of mix tapes made for me circa ’95), and I most definitely have a fair-sized CD collection.

Now, I’m far from being a Luddite: I have one of those cell phones with a camera, I’ve downloaded stuff from an ftp site and, heck, I maintain this here web log. Years ago, I made the switch with everyone else over to mp3s with the help of a not-so-legal (at the time) service called Napster and eventually transfered all my music to my playlist and onto my iPod.

But I still buy CDs. I’m not sure why — the whole thing about better sound quality doesn’t make much sense to me, it’s nothing to do with supporting the artist because I can do that by paying on iTunes, and I can’t say it’s for the liner notes without wanting to punch myself in the face. I think it’s something about the tangible, sensory appeal of cracking open the case, popping the disc out and hearing that first spin before the music starts.

CDs, however, require more production, packaging and shipping than downloading music in its electronic form, plus it means committing to the whole album rather than buying individual songs. So from now on, with apologies to my local music store, I’m opting for mp3s instead. Thanks to Matt S. for the suggestion!

17 Responses to MP3’s not a crowd (Day 82)…

  1. Shawn says:

    CDs are so 1999 =) I would argue that neither itunes nor the cd really does anything worthwhile to support the artist. But it doesn’t matter for the sake of your point.

    I went the subscription route. I pay some single digit amount per month for unlimited access to any music I wish. I’ve been very happy with it.

    I thought I read that Amazon was going to sell digital music. Maybe you could rekindle that relationship after all =)

  2. Nice one Vanessa! Surely it can’t be the liner notes or artwork (some of which is now available on iTunes) in and of itself that has such appeal. But there is something to be said for that feeling of ownership that comes with holding a tangible object in your hands.

    I think that as more people take the greener option to buying music, artists will have to jump on the bandwagon and provide their musical digitally…That is, if they are interesting in making a business of selling their music. As a musician I have to remind myself that when you record and manufacture your music for people to buy, it becomes a commodity. If anyone is interested in really supporting the artists, go see them play live and tell everyone you know to come. There is no replacing the live show! That is where music lives…in all its beauty and power and glory.

  3. gettinggreen says:

    Shawn, what service do you subscribe to? It sounds like a very worthwhile endeavour…

    And Matt, I totally agree, nothing compares to a live show!

  4. Sorry, I can’t help myself. If you really like CDs, there are FREE CDs at the library! 🙂

    Okay, yes, I AM a librarian.

  5. besweet says:

    Check out — it’s a Canadian site for MP3 downloads. It features independent artists, there’s no DRM and most albums are $8.88 Canadian. I’ve been using iTunes, but I don’t like their DRM so I’m after alternatives. Amazon’s upcoming MP3 store will be DRM-free as well, but I don’t know if it will be available to Canadians.

  6. Shawn says:

    I subscribe to Yahoo Music Unlimited: It looks like they have a free 2 week trial.

    I started out because I liked their launchcast radio service. I rate songs and by doing so build my own radio station. After 6 years now I have a pretty thorough station =) Then a couple years ago I upgraded to unlimited so I could hear anything/anytime.

  7. Dinsky says:

    Ok, I’m going to have to disagree with you… there is something to buy the cd for, and that’s the ARTWORK. I know you can get a little wee digital picture of the CD artwork online, but it’s really not the same!!! Graphic designers and artists work really hard on this stuff to make a complete cohesive package that compliments the music.

    Besides, there are a lot of artists out there who donate percentages of their profits to good causes, and others who’s songs and artwork reflect important social issues. Why not try searching those out and supporting them instead?

  8. gettinggreen says:

    Very true, Dinsky — there have even been gallery showings of artists who specialize in album covers, and some will go down in history for the statements they made. There’s of course minimal stuff like the Beatles’ White album, but I personally will never forget Nirvana’s Nevermind with the swimming baby, or the more graphic stuff Bjork always has, or that first Weezer album, etc. etc. If only I could buy the album covers without the plastic receptacle!
    Thanks for the links, besweet and Shawn — I too am getting sick of iTunes, so I’ll make sure to check them out.

  9. Dinsky says:

    There’s another idea, if it’s the plastic you want to avoid, there are a lot of great albums that use what’s called a ‘EuroPack’ which is all cardboard. (Jack Johnson – In Between Dreams is a good example)

  10. besweet says:

    I think the EuroPack will soon become standard — it’s probably cheaper to make, and definitely cheaper to ship because it’s lighter and thinner.

  11. Lynn says:

    Ah, MP3s. I’ve given up CD buying in favor of MP3s as well, unless I find a CD by my most favorite musicians 🙂

  12. Sheldon says:

    You’ve turned me…

    As much as I love the feeling of opening and (yikes) smelling a new CD… the amount of packaging is too much.

    And now to swear eternal allegiance to my apple overlords.

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