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July 14, 2007

Buying Music

Filed under Computers, Gadgets, Web


I'm changing the way I buy music...I'm abandoning downloading music (which I've been doing for about 6 years) and going back to buying CD's. It seems a bit backwards, but it has a lot of advantages.

I have a requirement that my music is in MP3 format...I have several devices I use (computers, iPod, car system, Xbox 360, phone) and MP3 is the only format that works in all places.

Most importantly, look at the work involved in getting music into your library.

For downloaded music...

  1. Burn downloaded track onto a CD
  2. Rip track from CD back onto computer so it is in MP3 form
  3. Update artist, song, album, genre tag information
  4. Rename the MP3 using ARTIST-SONG.mp3 format
  5. Create artist and album folders and move MP3 into correct location
  6. Add album art

For CD's...

  1. Rip track from CD

The number of steps involved with downloaded music has kept me from buying music.

Today I wanted to buy a few songs and I tried to find a place that would download MP3's, with album art, correct file names, and tag information...but I couldn't find any.

So I decided to go to amazon.com and buy CD's.

There are other advantages to using CD's over buying downloadable music...

  1. CD is used as your backup in case you have data loss
  2. CD quality is better than what you get from downloaded music
  3. The selection of music on CD *far* exceeds what you can download

Now for the disadvantages...

  1. Cost...you can't easily buy a single song on CD...you usually must buy an album. The songs I want will probably cost more than a $1/song.
  2. Instant gratification...I can't have the music I want now, I will have to wait until next week when it is delivered

I think switching back to CD's is the right answer...I'd be interested in hearing of better ways of dealing with this. Post away in the comments section if you have any ideas.

Comments (10)

Here's throwing a curve ball--do we even NEED the mp3 format for audio anymore?

Do we need it to save space? Not with hard drives running at 25 cents per gigabyte. Got 500 CDs? stick them, uncompressed, on a 500 gig drive you can pick up at Best Buy for $120 bucks.

And for an experiment, keep track of what you really listen to on your mp3 player. Sure, its a trip to have your whole music collection with you at all times, but just how much do you LISTEN to? I'll bet 20 or 30 albums worth of music far exceeds what you listen to regularly.
People have so much portable storage that they have to look for things to store on their iPod (look! I can watch the entire first season of Family Matters on the bus to work!)

Of course, you may want compression to achieve that crappy sound we've come to settle for, and it goes well with the tinny sound from those 2 dollar ear buds.

Let's get some of these kids a good set of speakers and a really nice amp and teach them what music really sounds like, before the only audiophiles left are in nursing homes.

Now get offa my property!

Mike Schriever:

I'm with ya on that. However, I haven't heard much music worth buying. I've bought one CD in 5 years. It was the last Buckcherry album. Other than that, I listen to the music I already have.

When you convert a WMA, or AAC file to an MP3, you've even lost more of the signal than if it was done from a CD.


MediaMonkey http://www.mediamonkey.com is a free mp3 player/organizer that you can right click selected songs and auto-tag them either from Amazon or from file name. It will automatically download the album art for you.

You can do the same in MusicMatch.

@ Kelvin:

That is a good point. So use the uncompressed .wav format instead of mp3.

I typically get 10:1 compression with mp3. So if my music currently fits in 10 GB, then I'd need to move to a 100 GB drive.

I see two issues with that:

  1. I use various devices (ipod shuffle, car player, phone) that have limited storage. I love the 1 GB shuffle, but at 100 MB it is not nearly as fun.
  2. I'm not sure how well .wav files support all the mp3 tagging information (artist, song name, album, genre).

I give props to Kelvin for introducing me to MP3 at Compaq back in 1996.

@ Bubba: I see it does the tagging part, but does it do the file rename, directory creation and move the MP3 to the correct location (steps 4 & 5 above)?

I've been running multimedia at our church for about six months, mostly the PC end of things. Running the sound board on occasion has made me go back and try to retrain my ears, and I notice more and more things I don't like in mp3s nowadays.

Its similar to how I shake my fist at the tv when I see all the motion artifacts on some channels. Nobody else sees them, and they think I'm an old coot. Wait--those two things aren't related.



If you go the CD route the best program to use is EAC. http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/

MoFo Chill:

There is no need to buy music anymore because everything worth listening to was mid-80's rap and that was 20 years ago. What's mp3? My walkman plays my cassettes just fine.


Or you can take it a step further and go back to vinyl...just like the upstanding young people in this wonderful article from The Guardian.

It sure is a bitch to have to get up and turn the damn thing over after 15 minutes though...

Come now. Any good antiques dealer should have a turntable with changer.

Just to cement my credentials in the Order Of Old Coots (OOOC card came in the mail same day as my AARP invite), I wish someone would go back to an all analog system. I used to own quite a few "audiophile" LPs, made from the good vinyl you can't use in the US and pressed from masters that weren't worn out. They sounded great, even though there was still some low level preamp hiss.

Imagine what you could do with today's advanced in low noise circuits, coupled with the ability to maniuplate materials with a laser. You could build a analog system (or at least near analog--you still might have to sample the sounds but not quantize them.) I'm betting that would be some sweet sounds.

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