I like to listen to a bit of music. I don’t always like to listen to the music played on the radio. I don’t like the prices charged for many CDs. And I don’t like being treated like a criminal every time I do buy a CD—I shouldn’t have to go to insane lengths just to get a disc to play on my computer!
A few years ago I came across Magnatune. Magnatune has a lot of great music for sale, but the business model is a little different to most. You can preview entire albums at no charge. If you want to buy an album, you set the price, and the artist is guaranteed to get half of what you pay. If you have a decent internet connection you can download the album (in a choice of formats) there and then, or you can pay a bit more and get a CD shipped to your door. And once you’ve got the music, you are allowed (within reason) to make copies for your friends.
Magnatune provides an example of ‘Free Culture.’ In short, the Free Culture movement says that culture is owned by everyone in a society. We shouldn’t lock aspects of our culture away, releasing it when it suits us and under conditions we impose. I’ll have more to say about that another time.
If you’ve listened to the prognostications of many of the big record labels you’d think the internet spelled the end of the recording industry. Magnatune has proven far more successful than its founder ever expected, and now they’ve changed their model again. For as little as US$10 per month you can subscribe to Magnatune and download as much as you’d like during the life of your subscription.
That’s right. If you’re dedicated you could get every album in their catalogue for ten US dollars.
I strongly suggest you head over there and have a listen to see if you like anything. The range is incredible—there will be genres to meet all tastes, although I’m yet to find any decent brass band recordings. I didn’t recognise any of the names when I first had a look, but it just goes to show: just because it doesn’t get played on Triple M doesn’t mean it’s not good.
(Note: I’m not being paid by Magnatune or anything. I just think this is a great thing their doing, and I really dig the music I’ve downloaded.)