I have not been visiting CD shops for a while, and decided to pick up some music to listen to. Having heard Maroon 5 through radio and other sources, and enjoying it quite a bit, I decided to buy the album.
Because of the friendly and helpful guy at the store, I ended up walking out with FIVE CDs instead of the one I wanted to buy. Got the latest albums by Train (My Private Nation), The Calling (Two), Switchfoot (The Beautiful Letdown), Maroon 5 (Songs About Jane) and, please don’t suan me, Justin Timberlake (Justified).
That last one was because it was in the $10.95 bin, and despite what I think about his voice, I thought the production values were quite high. That, and it was only $10.95.
There was an Angie Stone album out too, which I wanted to get, but it had the dreaded Copy-Controlled Mark of Death, so I gave it a miss. Yep, I consciously avoid buying any of that Copy-Controlled (CC) shite, because I listen to my music digitally. In fact, if it wasn’t for my car’s 10-disc changer, I wouldn’t even buy a CD. I would buy and consume only downloads.
And I don’t seem to be the only one. The store guy was very keen to tell me that they try to bring in the non-Copy-Controlled versions parallel imported from unnamed countries. Mind you, these are still originals, but just not scarred by CC. So obviously, the store was responding to customer feedback and simple demand-and-supply.
When I picked up the Maroon 5 with the CC logo on it and said, “Aw shucks, I cannot buy this.”, the guy swiftly whipped out the virgin non-CC version for me. One more sale for him.
I wonder if anyone in the music industry even realizes how ridiculously archaic and Jurassic the CD as a format is. Most people like me treat CDs as a storage medium. I take the CD home, I rip the music out into my Mac, burn it into a CD-R containing 700MB of songs, or into an iPod, and the CD goes back into the CD rack, never to be touched again.
It may have been a real thrill to be paying twenty-something smackers for this shiny high-tech looking disc of music, back when policemen wore shorts, but these days, you go home with five CDs and $100 poorer, and you start to wonder, I paid $100 of my hard-earned money for just these five coasters?
Furthermore, I hardly buy albums anymore. Most of the time, I only like one or two tracks on an album, and it seems like a bloody waste to be buying the whole damn thing. I wish Apple’s iTunes Music Store would get here soon. It is frustrating to go to my iTunes app on my Mac, and see all that lovely music I cannot buy. And no, that recent Soundbuzz and Creative Asian store is not going to cut it for me, not enough choice. Sony’s silly ATRAC stuff on their Connect service is even worse (what’s up with Sony and their insistence on controlling every damn medium and format, from proprietary Memory Sticks to digital music formats?). I might consider this "Sony product" though.
Music stores like the one I visited know what their customers want, music without the pain-in-the-ass copy protection. Apple knows we will buy more iPods if they provide an easy way to download and buy digital music. When is the rest of the music industry going to spend less money coming up with technology that pisses off the legitimate customer, and more money on helping me spend mine? Oh, suing your buying public is not exactly Winning Customers 101 either.
At least, I get to vote with my dollars. In Singapore, where we have no real say over our choice of Prime Minister, where most of us have yet to vote in our lifetime (walkovers, anyone?), it is reassuring to know that in at least one area, buying music, I get to exercise my choice. I’ve got money to spend here, who’s going to help me spend it?
(I know, I shall get me one of those new BMWs with the iPod controls built into the steering. Forget about ditching the 10-disc changer, I will now aim to ditch my whole car. Bwahahahahahaha!)