I’m not really an early adopter kind of guy. Once I become comfortable with something, like CDs for instance, the thought of switching to something new seems like a gigantic hassle to me. And unnecessary.
I mean, what’s wrong with the good ol’ compact disc? Wasn’t it just a few years ago we were all turning backflips into our own solid waste over those things? Yes, I believe it was.
So, when everyone started walking around with white earbuds hanging off their heads, I mocked them. As is my nature. “What a grand gang of douches!” I howled, while hoisting a twenty-pound music satchel onto the console of my car.
I’m not proud of it, but I think I even made occasional sheep noises: “Baaaaa baaa Mr. Sheep!!”
When I joined a gym (ha!) a couple of years ago, I was the only person in the place still carrying a Sony Discman. Some of the younger people did double-takes, having only seen such ancient technology in movies like War Games. You would’ve thought I had a crankable Victrola around my neck…
And when I got the treadmill going, and began stumbling and flailing like an arthritic monkey, the CD would skip all around. I was always afraid the laser might shoot out, and sear-off someone’s arm.
A former employer gave me a 2GB iPod nano for Christmas a few years back, and it went unused. The thing sat on the corner of my desk at home, with the ridiculous headphones wrapped around it, for many months. CDs had served me well, and I saw no reason to abandon them.
Then I got a different job, working extended hours in front of computer screens, and noticed most of my co-workers used iPods to ward off the boredom, the mind-eating boredom.
So, out of desperation I tried it, and became a reluctant convert…
I hated to admit it, but the thing was fantastic! I loaded it with old Phil Hendrie shows, Jean Shepherd programs from the ’60s, old time radio (like Suspense), and whatever twenty CDs I thought I might want to hear during my shift. How had I lived without it??
And now I don’t even have a CD player in my office at home. I have a second iPod (80GB), and a docking station. There is currently 11,000 songs (or so) stored on the thing, and it’s not even half-full. I love it so much, I could almost cry.
Until recently, however, I clung to my CD addiction.
I tried iTunes and didn’t like it. If I was going to pay ten bucks for an album, I wanted to have something solid that could be stored on a shelf. I also experimented with the illegal peer-to-peer services, but had a moral problem with the whole thing. I tried to execute the mental jujitsu necessary to justify it, and couldn’t pull it off.
So I continued buying CDs, and transferred them to my iPods. It was the best of both worlds: I had one foot in the old, and the other foot in the new. It was a comfortable situation.
Now, I’m afraid, the transition is almost complete. It started with an occasional album purchased through the Amazon mp3 store. Most days they offer something for $3.99, and list five seemingly random albums on Fridays at $5 each. I took the bait a few times, and realized it wasn’t so bad. I could live without having a physical copy. I could do it, if the price was right…
I joined eMusic after someone in the comments at this site recommended it, with the intention of taking their 50 bonus songs and canceling my membership. (Don’t tell anyone.) And you can probably guess how that turned out… That’s right, I got hooked.
eMusic is a subscription-based download service. The plan I chose costs $14.99, and my account is credited 50 songs on my anniversary date every month. There are no prices at the site, you simply exchange one song credit for one song.
But you’ll find no Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, or Metallica there. eMusic offers albums (or individual songs) from independent labels only. So, instead of mega-selling stadium acts, you’ll find alternative rock classics, current college radio favorites, ’70s punk, etc. etc.
Since joining I’ve picked up full-length albums by Gaslight Anthem, Spoon, the Cramps, the Adverts, Dinosaur Jr., Big Dipper, Lloyd Cole, Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire, 999, and more.
They also offer downloads from other categories (including audiobooks), but I’m fairly fixated on alternative rock and can’t tell you much about the selection in other genres. In my niche, however, they’ve got the proverbial metric shitload. It’s a seemingly bottomless pit of excellent.
I mentioned how price made the difference for me, and it’s true. All things being equal, I’d still rather have a CD, I think. iTunes is not attractive, for that very reason; their full-length albums cost roughly the same as the physical CD. So, I’ll go with the latter, thank you very much.
But eMusic offers a powerful incentive to make the leap to mp3: their prices are really good.
You’re Living All Over Me by Dinosaur Jr. is one of alternative rock’s greatest records, and here’s what you’ll pay for it at various online music stores, along with my cost at eMusic:
Amazon (physical CD) $13.99 + shipping
Amazon (download) $8.90
iTunes store (download) $9.90
eMusic (download) $3.00
Pretty big difference, huh?
Plus, the mp3s at eMusic aren’t loaded-up with crapola that limits their play. Once you download it, you can burn it, copy it to as many computers as you like, and basically own the thing. Some of the other services seem to assume we’re all a bunch of crooks.
So, I’m completely sold. Their website is even great. It’s filled with Top Ten lists, in hundreds of categories, and features informative essays from well-known music writers — not just assholes from the marketing department.
It’s not for everyone, of course. They’re obviously catering to folks whose tastes run outside the mainstream. But if you’re in that target audience, I think it’s a great deal. And a lot of fun.
One small negative: the credits don’t roll over from month to month. Like with floating holidays, you use ’em or you lose ’em. Not a fan…
But, other than that, I’m a full convert. I’ve finally been coaxed out of the 1990s, and while it’s certainly scary, it’s also kind of exciting.
Will somebody please hold me?
Good Afternoon Surf Reporters!!!!!!!!!
I can’t believe the squirrel feet earrings sold out. Who is walking around with roadkill on their ears?
Joe T. says
I’ve thrown away hundreds of sqwak feet. Damn, I could have made big money in the sqwak-foot trade.
Next winter I’ll be offering several amazing deer penis pendants…sign up now!
Top Ten, Bitches!
Nothing to report today, except work sux.
What, no question of the day?
Almost all the music on my Ipod is from my CD collection. I have received a couple gift card for Itunes and I’ve used them to buy music but that’s about it.
While I enjoy the option of buying one song at a time (especially if I don’t really care for the artist ..just the song) I am still a fan of owning the entire cd and will probably continue to purchase cds.
top ten…..now i will read………….
There is also the fact that Mp3’s are lossy.
I have never paid money for an Mp3, and don’t even mess with them unless it’s the only way I can get something.
I would never walk around with headphones on. For one thing, I like to be aware of my surroundings. Also – it cuts out human interaction.
Not long ago I was trying to discuss something to do with work with someone and they could not hear me. It was because they were wearing earbuds.
I guess it’s a different world now.
I have upwards of 5,000 cds/records/tapes now – and I am sticking with those formats. I only listen to music at home anyway.
When I bought my iPod, I downloaded my ENTIRE CD collection (!) I was never a fan of the CD because I missed the album cover art and the liner notes – yes, I know they’re usually in a booklet, but it’s not the same. Microscopic and not in plain sight. I also missed looking for the hidden handwritten notes that were sometimes on the blank part of the album up near the label. I’m a full-on downloader now and fully intend to get out of my iTunes rut and check out eMusic. Thanks for the tip, Jeff!
Happy Tuesday, Surfers!
CD’s ripped on the PC and loaded on the player. Either that or internet radio…
WTF is this?
I always thought it was a cool idea to like music out of the mainstream. But it just didn’t take. Oh I hate to be so uncool. Just recently I learned “indie rock” wasn’t some kind of music from India. And I think everyone is a douchebag for shortening independent to Indie anyway. So there.
I also thought it would be cool to genuinely like Irish music that they play in bars on St. Patrick’s Day which is a big party here in St. Louis. Especially since I have red hair and my maiden name started with “Mc” but I despise it and it just won’t take either.
My husband downloaded his entire CD collection (100’s and 100’s of them, maybe 1,000’s I don’t know I see them in the basement but have never bothered with any of them) onto his ipod and now he won’t sell the cd’s. I can’t figure out why we still need them.
I did YourMusic for a while, then dropped ’em. Now it’s mainlining from the iTunes store straig’ to the computer, where the one of us who uses an iPod moves things all over and the other of us who does not (that’d be me) just pokes around on the playlist effing things up.
CDs at this point are for my car, because there’s no jack to plug in an MP3 player. The only thing I really will miss about CDs is the art that goes along with ’em. Call me geeky, but I dig cover art and stuff.
Bill in WV says
Too chancy to get rid of the hard copies of my favorite music. I just know if I load it on my computer or on an Ipod (I don’t own one), something will surely screw up and I will be out of luck because some invisible file holding my tunes has shit the bed and gone off to (dot) something heaven.
Bill in WV says
Oh, and I still have around 700 LP’s at home and listen to them often on my turntable. Hey, I’m 45, what of it?
Cindi K in VA says
well i still think fondly of that Christmas long ago when I received from Santa my first personal listening device….a tan hand held eight track player and assortment of eight track tapes including The Animals and the Lovin Spoonful. It looked very similar to this: http://cgi.ebay.com/EIGHT-8-TRACK-TAPE-PLAYER-PORTABLE-WORKS-VINTAGE_W0QQitemZ180327230851QQcmdZViewItemQQptZVintage_Electronics_R2?hash=item180327230851&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50
I still have a turn table, albums, cassettes, a reel to reel (all unused ans stored in the attic-or somewhere-I hope)….listen on my IMAC through Itunes. Thank god for my daughters…they have very eclectic catalogues and try to keep me up to date.
I have a giant television downstairs that’s built into a huge wooden cabinet. If you lift the top of said cabinet you’ll find a stero, 8 track player, and record player. That’s how I roll, babies.
I’m still playing LP’s on a turntable……LOL I firmly believe we will head back there someday, if only for he nostalgia of it. And I love album art!
Shiny Rod says
Move along, just holding my spot…
Shiny Rod says
All LP’s are being converted to digital format now that I have my ION.
I used e-music for awhile, but I ran out of things that I like. Dinosaur, Jr is a great band. I personally like Lou Barlow’s Folk Implosion and Solo stuff.
I love my iPod. I am not as great of an audiophile as some of you all, mostly because I have no freaking time and I can’t work (which mostly consists of reading and writing) with distractions. Dammit. I am bitter about that.
Emusic is such a great service. I’m glad they’ve survived and endured–no doubt it’s because of all the awesomeness you’ve just cited.
I don’t know Kay, looks like indie rock discussion’s a real ratings killer ;-).
All my favorite file swapping sites have gone legit (Sharezaa, Morpheus, Audio Satellite) so I’m close to paying for MP3s. I have 100’s of CDs, and like the format, but digital is more convenient. My big concern is a hard-drive crash, so if I actually have to pay for MP3s I’ll need to be more vigilant in backing them up, and that takes effort…..
As for the morality of illegal downloading I do occasionally feel a twinge of guilt, but then the face of Lars Ulrich pops into my mind and I suddenly have less sympathy for the “artist”. I don’t want to deprive Death Cab or Bon Iver of their royalties, but I’d drag my crank over 10 miles of broken glass to fuck with Lars Ulrich. It also helps that I’m in Canada and the courts and ISPs have consistently told the RIAA to go fuck themselves with a pointy stick. All that being said, I own legal copies of about 90% of the music on my hard drive.
I’m with Ognir. MP3’s are lossy – their sound quality isn’t as good as CD. It doesn’t really matter in a car on at the gym, but in a good stereo with good speakers, I want the sound quality of a CD (which can also be ripped to lossless for iPod purposes).
Also, there’s too much of a chance for ghosts in the machine to delete electronic music. Our CD’s flooded in Katrina (sat in stinky water for 2 weeks) and over 90% of them still play. I will continue to buy CD’s primarily.
Katrina did teach me not to give a damn about liner notes, though. I will buy the cheapest used CD’s as long as they play.
Jason – we had one of those giant “Entertainment Cabinets” when I was a small child. I’m pretty sure the heavy solid wood lid crashing down on my delicate child-size skull as I flipped through mom’s Dr. Hook records is partly responsible for the way I’ve turned out as an adult.
My comment is “awaiting moderation”???
I thought that was just for Jason!
I bought the squirrel feet earrings on etsy. Jason, your ears are pierced, right?
Bill in PA says
My comment is “awaiting moderation”???
They’re attempting to save us from us.
JVC HD Radio in the car w/ U2 iPod and a wired iPod adaptor and new speakers. 7,500 song jukebox on the seat. Excellent!
Plus, some cool radio stations with NO
Bill in PA says
My “Entertainment Cabinet” has a new television where the old one was before it shit the bed. And I turned one of the bottom drawers into a flip down situation so I could put a DVD player in there. I will NEVER get rid of it. I’ll just continue updating it as needed. Sadly, I only have a handful of 8-tracks left. One of them is Eddie Rabbitt.
None of my comments have ever been “awaiting moderation”. I guess you’re just too over the top.
I’ve never had pierced ears or pierced anything else. I might consider doing my nose or one of my nipples, if I could hook a squirrel hand through it. Can anyone say, “chick magnet”?
Jeez, Bill in WV – 700 LPs? I’m jealous – I’m older than you and I only have 450. I’m digitizing some, but it’s a time-consuming PITA to do it correctly (fuck a bag of ION, if I may say so). My turntable dates from the Watergate era, but it’s on its 8th (or so) cartridge and has been rewired a couple of times. Sounds great with a good LP.
Yes, mp3 is a lossy compression format and they mostly sound like crap in my experience. My hearing is not that great, thanks to some youthful indiscretions, but even I can hear digital artifacts in some CDs and most mp3s. I prefer to have a relatively good master copy of any music, then make FLACs for the home music server, mp3s for any hypothetical iPods, maybe burn a CD for the car.
Like Misselle, I need quiet when I’m working (programming!) so music is only for home or car.
Finally, last.fm rules. Give it some guidance and soon it will be playing music you like, nonstop.
Chill – Many (mostly older) ipods can be “rockboxed” to play flacs (www.rockbox.org).
Another exactly internet source for online listening is pandora (www.pandora.com).
Mr. Horney says
Way to go Jeff…emusic is the bomb.
next time you’re there check out:
Just putting in my opinion here (or Sean’s as he is dictating behind me!)
eMusic is also great for anyone who likes older music, and the entire Stax/Volt catalog is there as well. The entire CCR catalog is there too for $3 an album!
Big Bear In OH says
Pandora is what gets me through my day…it’s so awesome to tell it one song and have it come back with a whole radio station of songs similar, but not quite the same! The music genome project is a great idea, and makes for the greatest radio play ever!
Pandora, rockbox, last.fm…..I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’m as lost as a you know what at a you know where. Guess that shows how “with it” I am. I’m going to my bed chamber.
Uncle Buzz in Wheeling says
You need to discover the wonderful world of playlists.
Start with The Rough Guide To Playlists, then make up your own on any theme you can dream up. Ten songs per playlist is a good number.
Today’s quote: “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain.” Mark Twain
Ian the Errolite says
I missed the roll call.
Can I shout a belated ‘Yo!’ and represent Scotland on the list ? (Having seen some American movies I believe that this is the required response.)
My name is Ian and I live in Errol, Perthshire.
I currently use a Creative zen 40gb but I’m being drawn towards the inferior ‘pod’. Damn them for looking so tasty!
Willie Williams says
I have tons of cds and have ripped them all. It took so long I have two backups cause I’m never going thru that again.
My much older brother had boxes of reel to reel music, much of it bootlegs and concerts from the radio he recorded. I plugged the line out of his player into my ION turntable and ripped all of them too. Great stuff from the mid 60’s thru the early 80’s that you will never find on cds or any other medium.
Son of Sam says
I hate fucking infomercials.
I am in the same boat as Tammie, it appears – lots of CDs, some but not all ripped to my iPod, and I make an occasional visit to iTunes with a gift card or two (I scored $75 worth of iTunes cards for Christmas, which I have to admit was nice).
I have some interesting vinyl, including a vast collection of Springsteen bootlegs from the 1970’s and 80’s, my pride and joy. I still dust off the turntable from time to time and enjoy a live E Street set from 1972 or so.
Growing up my parents had a bar in our basement (whose parents didn’t, right?), and the best part of it was an 8-track player with awesome sound. We used to play “In-a-gadda-da-vida” with the volume at 11 for all our “cool” friends – the song had to be split it was so long!
One nice feature of the iPod is ripping movies to watch on the airplane. I do a lot of international, long haul, dehydration-type flying, so being able to watch a couple of movies I’M interested in is welcome relief.
I spent 7 months in Siberia last year so that’s when I began to push myself to rip the CD collection. It always requires some bizarre motivation to rip more than 3 or 4 discs in an evening.
That’s my 2 cents.
J Shifty says
I’m the kind of happy moron who goes one step beyond just owning the bits for albums, and rents them from Rhapsody. Not only do you not own a thing when you cancel the subscription, but the available album selection changes from day to day. The entire Paul Simon catalog disappeared recently, but Husker Du came in, so it all kind of works out. And, when folks here in the comments extol the virtues of UFO, the Murmur anniversary reissue, or the Dictators I can call them up without hesitation or commitment. Also, while subscribed you can load up to three mp3 players to the gills with whatever’s available at the time, which covers me, my bride, and car trip music for Junior.
I also pull down occasional live shows from dimeadozen, and love archive.org’s Robyn Hitchcock and modern composer holdings.
I would consider exploring eMusic, but in the drastic times can only throw so much money out the window every month.
I shared your need to have and hold my music purchases, but would occasionally buy a single or two from iTunes. The other day I was looking through the FOUR carousel type CD changers I have, trying to find something to listen to and I felt my grip on the need for the actual CD lessen a little bit. Now I’ve thumbed through the Emusic catalog and I am sold. I’ll miss the artwork and such, but I don’t think the Missus will miss teetering towers of stacked up “to be filed” CDs threatening collapse at any minute.
Jeff, try http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/ you might find it fun.