How best to acquire?

16Dec06

Nearly a year ago now, I wrote my first substantive post on Sampled + Sorted, entitled “How best to discover?” Thanks to props from Rags Gupta and Fred Wilson, it’s without question the most-read post I’ve made to date.

I still find the whole matter of music discovery more interesting than the actual sale (or other delivery) of music; after all, once you’ve found what you like from myriad choices on the internet, the rest should be easy. But it’s not, still. Or at least it’s not to my satisfaction.

I wanted to buy the TV on the Radio album today, after being reminded again of how good it is by Spin magazine (which named Return to Cookie Mountain album of the year). I’d heard many of the tracks via THM but hadn’t gotten around to actually buying the whole album. So my options were:

1. Buy the CD. But I don’t want to have to have CDs clutter my place anymore. I’ve largely concluded that I won’t buy any more CDs and will consolidate all of my existing collection into folders, organized A-Z. Plus I want the music now – I don’t want to wait for the CD to be delivered.

2. Buy the download with DRM. I’ve made quite a few purchases on iTunes since April ’03 but I’ve already seen a few issues with transferring tracks between computers. I want to *own* music for which I lay down cash – forever – and iTunes Music Store’s proprietary DRM (really any DRM) worries and annoys me.

3. Buy the download without DRM. I pay for an eMusic subscription, which I love. Great selection of independent music, easy to search and browse, content delivered without DRM in the MP3 format. But they don’t have this album.

4. “Steal” the download via P2P. I’m a Mac guy and Acquisition has historically been the best way to acquire music that I’m not sure I want to buy (so I can sample a full-length track) or that I simply cannot buy (because it’s not available elsewhere). But for some reason (improved RIAA efforts?), a search on Acquisition is turning up nada.

I guess I’ll ask around and see if any friends have the album so I can rip it. But this anecdote illustrates an increasingly common problem, a point often raised at industry conferences and in the press/blogs: I want to buy (and permanently own) music I like, delivered digitally, but I’m still left with no good way to do this.

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One Response to “How best to acquire?”

  1. 1 gotesman

    Hi David. Catching up on my Google Reader’ing on this cold weekend.

    Wanted to add:

    5. Buy the entire album — for a fraction of the cost and DRM-free — from a quasi-legal site like the infamous AllOfMP3.com. Return To Cookie Mountain for example would cost $2.31, and would take 5 minutes to download. AoMP3 might be going away soon, but I know there’s several other offshore sites where you can get similar pricing.


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