One website that I have always admired a lot is Magnatune.com. They strive to improve the grim situation that is the result of the music industry vs music pirates. What Magnatune has done is created a music download service that just simply does not suck.
Some things I hate about current/conventional music download services are: First of all, you almost always have to register and create a login. Most often, this is simply not what I want to do. I don’t care about them, I don’t care about their propaganda, and I don’t want them to track me or or send me stupid newsletters. Second of all, formats. For some reason, most of the Internet has standardized on mp3. Not only is this not a perfect format, it is also actually not free. The only reason it seems free is that every time that Microsoft sells you a copy of Windows, they charge you an extra 3 dollars for the mp3 decoder licence that they have to buy. This is garbage. Most downloading sites let get mp3s or, even worse, one of formats Apple tends to use. I am outraged about this. Finally, legal issues. The only decent popular music downloading website these days is the one that Amazon runs. The issue there is that Amazon has kindly restricted their pretty good service to USA only. This may be a temporary situation, but, obviously, it sucks for me. The other part of legal issues is DRM. Digital Rights Management. Ie: punishing people for downloading their music legally. It prevents you from copying your music files and sometimes even moving them to your music playing devices.
Anyway, amongst all these landmines and amongst all this strife, somehow, a decent service did arise. Magnatune. They are not evil. Seriously. Here is the general scoop: First of all, they let you listen to full previews of all their music. Not just select songs, not just clips, not even just once. Full songs, whenever you want, streamed to you via the Internet. Second of all, they give you about 7 formats to pick from when downloading music. Of course, you can’t download the music without paying. They are not evil, but they are a legal service and are running a legitimate business. Finally, not only do they not have DRM, they encourage you to to spread the music you buy from them, but ask you to not give it to more than 3 people. This, I think, is reasonable.
What is the catch? They don’t have popular artists. Popular artists, most likely, would not accept the terms under which Magnatune operates. However, not popular does not mean bad! The music that comes from there is actually pretty high quality. Don’t believe me? Well, listening is free, so go check it out.
Anyway, I like how Magnatune operates. Rather than beating you with a baton, they give you a free service, and then ask for, more or less, a donation. When buying their music, you get some options. You can request that they send you a CD, or you can just download their files. Furthermore, you pick how much you want to pay for the music, with a bottom limit of 5$. You may recall that Radiohead did something similar not long ago, with tremendous profit. It seems that if you give people something for free, they are willing to give you something back. Anyway, your money is then split between the artist and the website, and all are happy. I, personally, am gleeful in supporting such a correctly-minded service. If all companies on the planet worked under this kind of mentality, this would be a better planet.
I’m posting this message now, despite having known about Magnatune for a long time. The reason for that is that I finally became un-lazy and bought something from them. I meant to buy their Brad Sucks album earlier, but as it happens, I actually got to see him live in Waterloo, Canada. Instead, though, I bought Ammonite’s CD, which is called Reconnection. Here is an outline of the purchasing process (very painless): You navigate to the artist, select a CD, and hit the “BUY” link. They make you fill out the least amount of information possible, which amounts to how much you’re paying, your credit card number (PayPal works too), your name and your e-mail. Then, they give you a link where to download your music, and a username/password that can be used to do so. (They also mirror all this info in an e-mail they send you for your records and to pass on to friends.) Go, download, done. No obligations, no registrations, no newsletter spam if you opt out. Ironically, this is actually the kind of website that I would like to have an account on… oh well
Anyway, as a brief mention, Ammonite is an electronic/soothing artist with an angelic female singer. I like it, but I listen to rather a wide range of music.
Have a good time.