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Once upon a time in the download world

Once upon a time in the westFor a man who obsesses over his music and iTunes collection, I can be extremely tardy sometimes in catching on to the latest song of the moment.

Heading up my ‘My 2008’ playlist (songs I’ve discovered and will associate with this year) so far are the Raconteurs “Steady as she goes” (a hit in May 2006), Cake’s “Love you madly” (A song on the ‘Comfort Eagle’ album from 2001) and … going back even further than that, Grandaddy’s “AM 180” (A single from 1998) which is the stand-out tune from the soundtrack of 28 Days Later – you know the one, it starts with the sound effect of a cross between the pac-man video game and an ice cream van.

So I was well on the ball this year, when I decided that the Hard-Fi single “I shall overcome” was rather good and I should check out what album it came from. So – just six months after it had been released (like I say, quite fast for me) I went online to a *cough* site that lets you ‘acquire’ (rather than legally download) some of the tracks off of the album.

That was back in March. Then something strange happened.

After a few weeks of having them on my iPod and playing them and enjoying them, I realised that I was really starting to enjoy them (because I was playing them obsessively and repeatedly) and perhaps in fact I ought to download the whole album because it might be rather good – and not just the few that I’d previewed and downloaded in a hurry. So I get home and get online, and have a bit of a moment and decide that actually the right thing to do is to download the WHOLE album legally off of ye olde iChoons.

So I did … I bought the whole damn thing for £7.99, even though I already had some of the tracks downloaded from elsewhere. I even went to all the bother of setting the play counts on the newly downloaded tracks so that they matched the versions of the old ones before I deleted then. I then set about playing the Hard-Fi album a lot.

Move forward a month later, it’s now April – almost June actually just a couple of weeks back and I realise that the whole damn album is pretty amazing. Totally. It doesn’t have any duff tracks on it. Usually when you get an album of (say) 10 tracks, you buy it because you liked the one single that you heard on the radio. So out of those 10 tracks there’s the single that you like, 2 other songs that are really good, 5 that are just good, and 2 duff ones. And it’s always those 2 duff ones that I then delete and don’t bother to have on my iPod.

But I couldn’t do it with Hard-Fi. Everyone one of the 11 tracks on Once upon a time in the west had me tapping, singing, and nodding along when out driving in my car, and I decided that I just loved this album.

Loved this album so much in fact that … I decided to buy it on CD.

Yes – you read that right. From illegally bitorrenting some of the tracks in the first place, to legally downloading all of them off of iTunes, I then decided that what I really wanted was a copy of CD to keep forever, because – well – there’s something still a teeny bit odd about buying something and JUST having it as an AAC or MP3 file isn’t there. Isn’t there?

Or was it that I just enjoyed the album so much that I felt that Hard-Fi really deserved my money in their pockets. That there product was so good than they’d guilted me into getting a legal copy of it … twice.

So, this is a true story to show how in the download generation, and when record companies are worried about DRM free music floating round the ‘net, I think it goes to show that if something is good enough – people are willing to pay for it.

I’ve told this story to a few people over the past two weeks (I’ve been meaning to blog it for a while), and have only found one other person who has ever done a similar thing – i.e. go out and purchase the CD of something they already had on download – are we alone? Or has anyone else ever done this?

14 responses to “Once upon a time in the download world”

  1. geofftech says:

    Comment to self:

    I downloaded two Coldplay tracks ‘Violet Hill’ and ‘Viva la viva’ this morning – the latter of which is utterly brilliant (and is going to be THE summer hit of 2008), and I already have this hunch that I’m going to have to end up buying the whole album on CD rather than just downloading it …

  2. Chucker says:

    Geoff, I too have heard a song I liked and have gone down to Millennium and bought the CD. (My last “free” download was from Napster!)

    Four years ago when I retired from the paper, the folks I worked with talked to the owners of those fine stores (Mt. Pleasant and downtown on Calhoun Street) and I was issued a “Lifetime” Membership.

    Over the years a few clerks actually made a comment “Hmm, haven’t seen THAT before,” and then the Mt. P store closed and you know what happened recently.

    I feel good that I did it “the right way” to the very end.

  3. ian says:

    What is “download”?

  4. dave sheffield says:

    i do it all the time geoff mate 🙂

    i’ve been collecting scooter since they first started, and pst few years, i’ve bought all their new material same day of release on itunes, whilst waiting for amazon to deliver the cd to me, so all the original discs are still in their original wrapping.

  5. jj says:

    i’ve done it; back “in the day” when Napster still existed (the real Napster, not the current thing), i did it a lot. discovered a lot of music i wouldn’t otherwise have known about.

    now, with so much available legally and a la carte, i buy a lot of individual tracks and very few albums. i can’t remember the last time i “acquired” a song. it’s been years, anyway.

  6. Matt says:

    I can’t say agree with you on Hard Fi, but the whole downloading-then-buying thing is pretty much the normal way I do things. The way I see it, you wouldn’t normally buy something without knowing beforehand if you’ll like it at all, so why should it be any different for records? So it’s always ‘aquire’ through less than legit means, and then if I like it, I go out and get the physical CD. Don’t understand what people get out of paying to download on itunes etc. I like to have something tangible in return for my hard earned pounds!

  7. Jono says:

    I’ve downloaded an old PWEI album you can’t get on CD any more, and then burned a copy off (like wot you is allowed to do).

  8. Tugs says:

    I did a similar thing with the Radiohead album that came out last year. In fact, I was one of the few people to pay more than a couple of £’s in the first place – I think I paid £10 on the basis that that is my default cost for an album. Then when it came out on CD, I bought a copy for about £8, simply because I have the rest of their albums on that format. So, £18 in total for one album? It’s a quite a lot but it is a good listen.

  9. geofftech says:

    So now i’ve been out and bought the new Coldplay album on CD. Having already paid and downloaded for ‘Violet Hill’ and ‘Viva la vida’ on iTunes…

    That’s only the second ever CD I’ve bought in the last two years.

  10. zuzula says:

    I only ever buy single tracks off iTunes – I ALWAYS buy albums in CD form for posterity!

  11. Mum says:

    Yes owning a CD is nice, as one of your posters said many months ago, ‘There’s nothing better than unwrapping the cellophane and handling the real thing’, You get notes and photos and sometimes all the word so you can sing along. you can also play it in your car. You also get a stack of dust gathering CD’s in your bedroom to fondly gaze at, and go through when you are feeling nostalgic.

  12. I just bought the new Coldplay CD too –except without having heard a single track but trusting they’ll be good as usual (sorry Ian). It was $12.49 at Costco. I like having the physical CD because (a) I want the liner notes and (b) I want to be able to burn as many copies as possible without restriction, and (c) I like the hard copy backup. I’ve never downloaded anything from anywhere without paying for it and think of iTunes as an “instant gratification” source and use it only when I want a single that very minute and can’t live without it. Otherwise it’s only a couple bucks more for the physical CD and I can wait.

  13. Mum says:

    I read in the paper today, that Coldplay were going to give one track away free for download. Anyone else seen this offer, and how to get it?

  14. Chris says:

    Sod CDs- it’s all about vinyl.

    I hate not having a physical copy of something that I really like. Granted, I might download an album to give it a once-over before spending up to £15 on it (I should really start importing LPs, given how much cheaper they are in the US). There’s also something magical about being able to look at your collection, rather than just scrolling through it on a screen.

    Also, whisper it, but AAC/MP3 files don’t sound that good, anyway…

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