I enjoy music, but several years ago I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more albums. They were — and are — ridiculously expensive, and the rules for sharing, borrowing, and such were so restrictive that “buying” CDs no longer made any sense. Beside that, I have plenty of CDs already, but usually find myself out of range of a CD player.
(I don’t spend lots of money on portable gadgets like music players. My only one now is a Palm Tungsten E2, which I use constantly and appreciate for its long battery life.)
Recently I’ve been listening to my music collection in digital form. I’ve ripped nearly all my CDs to Ogg Vorbis format, a flexible, high-quality, royalty- and patent-free encoding. Most recently I’ve been ripping to FLAC, a lossless encoding. One reason for my reluctance to buy a portable music player is the paucity of players supporting the Ogg Vorbis encoding and useful with a Linux desktop. There are some, however, and I think some day I’ll take the plunge. Meanwhile, it’s been nearly alarming to see the intrusion of the wma (Windows Media) format into the arena of digital recordings, and also the various drm (Digital Rights Management) -encumbered systems.
But now, there’s an alternative that will have me buying new music recordings again: Magnatune! Get on over there and check it out. Apple enthusiasts will tell me “We already have this with iTunes!” Not so. Magnatune is an online recording label with a growing collection of quality artists from a broad spectrum of genres. According to a current Linux Journal article, fifty percent of the purchase price of Magnatune music goes directly to the artists. You can sample full albums before buying them. At this moment, I’m sampling a delightful album from American Baroque called Mozart, 4 Quartets for Strings and Wind. It’s wonderful music to work by, and I’m only on the fourth track. I may actually buy this album, not only for the music but to support the great work that American Baroque are doing.
When I’m finished sampling this album, I’m going to check out at least one album from American Bach Soloists. They have a recording of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. I already have an outstanding recording of that, but I’m curious to hear the differences of interpretation. I’m already tempted to buy their recording of Bach’s Cantatas Volume V, and I’m excited to sample an album of Heinrich Schutz music: Musicalische Exequien.
Later, I’d like to hear the music of The Seldon Plan, just because the band’s name caught my eye. (Since first writing this post, I’ve taken a listen. The Seldon Plan is pretty good, but I liked the bluesy guitar of John Williams even better. I’m tempted to buy one or more of his albums.)
So, how much will I pay for the albums I buy? According to the same Linux Journal article, there is a minimum cost of $5 per album, and there is also a maximum. Within those limits, I’ll pay what the music is worth to me. What a system! I hope Magnatune’s business thrives. Understood in a non-theological sense, their motto seems to be right on the mark: “We are not evil.”
Oh, and apparently, Magnatune also provides recordings in the Ogg Vorbis and FLAC encodings, among others.