Sunday, March 12, 2006

the future of online music is.... sometime tomorrow? we'll have to get back to you on that.

Before I begin, let me say a few things

(a) I don't like DRM. I realize that for now we often have few choices, but I really do hope the public comes to at some point and demands that media distributors stop treating us (the customers) like we're a bunch of crooks
(b) I think music CDs should cost $12 or less. Maybe it's because that's how much the cost back when I first started buying CDs, but I find it hard to believe that inflation is the reason why the average CD is something like $15.
(c) I worked for as an intern in the summer of 2003 and have a number of friends who work there. Amazon feels very strongly about "passing the savings on to the customer," but recently I've become rather disenchanted about their average customer experience.

Alright, on to the actual whining.

Earlier today I decided I was going to buy Supernature by Goldfrapp and Back to Bedlam by James Blunt. Now, I'm excited about these two albums, but it's not like I'm buying my favoritest albums ever, so I'm looking for the best deal possible and while I'd prefer to have a physical do-as-I-please copy, I'm not above saving some money and putting up with some lower quality DRM nonsense (how bout them principles, eh?).

So I go fire up the ol' web browser and head on over to Amazon. Sure it's not instant karma, but they'll have a low price, right? Well, Back to Bedlam is $14 (a dollar off if you buy the "clean" version, but that's a tirade best left for later). Supernature is $14, with a special edition DVD version for $15 ($1 for a random extra junk seems more than reasonable).

My original thinking had been that I would pay $12-13 for a physical CD, but any more than that, and I'll just buy the damn things for the flat $10 on iTunes. $14 > $13, so looks like iTunes will be lining their pockets with a few more of my dollars.

Haha. Did you see that? Silly Akshay thinks that just because iTunes says full albums are $9.99, that they'll actually be $9.99. How naive. No, it actually turns out that the James Blunt and Goldfrapp albums cost $11.99 and $12.99 , respectively.
In particular, the James Blunt album includes a "Bonus" video that I don't want but can't buy the album without; oh boy! I can buy and album that's supposed to cost $10 plus a video that costs $2 for the low low low price of $12! Thank god for iTunes and how it lets me buy my media a la carte! Bleh.

So what did I do? I put on my shoes and walked my butt over to Best Buy where I bought the two albums on sale for $$10 and $$12 (+ $1.84 tax). No waiting for Super Saver Shipping, no DRM crap. The normal Best Buy prices are $13 and $14, so even if they hadn't been on sale, buying them on Amazon would have saved me about a buck (after taxes).

So for all our wonderful internet and technology, the best deal for this customer was to walk a few blocks over to his local record store to buy what he wanted. What does it mean? It means we still have a ways to go before the future of online music shopping is here... or maybe it'll just never come. While the world waits, I guess I'll stick to buying physical CDs and what limited stuff I can get off of emusic.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the iTunes albums I've looked at are relatively cheap compared to any physical verison. But the DRM is SO stupid. Why can't I even share a song over my iTunes share? Wouldn't that promote more music purchasing by helping expose people to new bands? Especially because I can just burn it onto a CD and then rip it again. Still, I set up an account on allofmp3, which has more albums and no DRM, to say nothing of being an order of magnitude cheaper.


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