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29.12.2009 10:37

Why pirating music is old-school

Yesterday, my wife asked me if I could get some songs of this new upcoming band boyce avenue. I first checked their website to see what they had to offer and wanted to listen to some samples of their songs. The first link there lead me to the iTunes store and all the albums where available there of course. I listened to a few of the samples and I have to admit that I love accustic guitars so I wanted to download some of the songs. I was just about to open another tab in firefox to see if I could get the mp3s for free somewhere when I saw the prices for the samplers in the iTunes store.

In the past (the good ol' times) I used Napster and stuff like that (like everyone else) to download music from the internet, but not because I did not want to pay for it, but because everything was readily available there, you got everything almost instantly and you didn't have to order a CD somewhere or drive to the local shop to get a copy of that - in this case, I'm not even sure if I could get CDs from them somewhere down here. I'm this kind of a person who wants to have things _IMMEDIATELY_ and don't want to wait a single day to get them, so downloading music off the internet is exactly my style.

Anyhow, after having purchased all their CDs on the iTunes store, I realized that the iTunes store is much cheaper than pirating the music off the internet. Imagine you're trying to get a full album of some band for free on the internet, what do you have to do? First, you need to know the name of the album, there's no real search function on most of these sites or P2P portals, you cannot really listen to the music _BEFORE_ you actually download it, most of the time, you don't get the covers, etc. So even if you are able to find the album immediately, download speed often varies and downloading a full album with about 20 tracks can take up to a few days if the album isn't popular enough. Then, when you finally have it, you need to verify that the tracks are all normalized or at least all have the same main volume, otherwise having them all in one playlist can easily hurt your ears. Out of my experiences, most of these downloaded songs don't have proper ID3 tags and I _LOVE_ ID3 tags, because they are so great to organize your music and all my CD and MP3 players support ID3 tags, so no more "Track 01", "Track 02" and shit like this. Converting ID3 tags to CD text is also especially important when you want to listen to this music in your car and don't have a MP3 player in it (yah, my BMW is a bit old school, I'm happy that I have a working CD changer now).

Anyhow, usually you end up spending quite some time fiddling around with getting an album downloaded for free and have it available in the quality I'm used to out of the iTunes store (including ID3 tags, normalizing them, having proper file names and directory structures, CD covers, etc.), so I think I'm not exaggerating when I say that you probably need to spend about 2 hours for downloading one or two albums off the internet.

Comparing my usual hourly rates against the price of all 5 albums on the iTunes store, I actually won money by purchasing them there, because buying all the 5 albums, downloading them and spreading them over wireless LAN to all my home computers and my two iPhones consumed about 10 minutes of my precious time, no hassles included, perfect quality, wife is happy (<= priceless!).

To all the students and nonworkers out there: Please disregard this blog entry, you probably won't understand the moral of it. When time is the most important thing in your life, you will start thinking differently and probably understand a bit of what I wrote here.

To everyone interested, here's the iTunes store link for boyce avenue: