(originally uploaded by Naufragio)
Defective by Design

I made a post four months ago to the Galaxie 500 Mailing List (I thought I posted it here as well but I guess not) about the dilemma of downloading music rather than buying CDs.

I've always bought records and CDs - I see it as a physical representation of an arrangement between myself and the music I love. It is something that you can see and touch and smell and that says - I LIKE THIS or I LOVE THIS or THIS MOVES ME.

BUT I also love digital audio files - there's less (NO) environmental impact that the manufacturing process of a CD entails - no little plastic disc that will fill up a landfill for thousands of years, no transportation, no politics of oil sitting behind it all - it liberates artists from the financial restraints of "making a record".

BUT I object, with a vengeance, to the DRM that most retailers place on the digital files they sell - I object to "leasing" music rather than "owning" it - I object to the way that retailers think of me as a thief. I worry about the quality, I worry about the longevity...

My head tells me go digital - there is too much that is bad about the manufacturing process - but my heart tells me that I want something I can hold...

Shortly afterwards I signed up to (DRM free) download site eMusic and dipped my toes into the new era with mixed results. eMusic makes it so much easier to embrace this new era although I still had problems. One of the albums I downloaded was Joanna Newsom's awesome album Ys - and within days I'd bought myself the CD of it - for something that beautiful it didn't seem right not having a physical object to support my love (or infatuation as Hazel seems to think it is!). Downloading still seems such a non-committal form of music love. I've "bought" other albums through eMusic and for most I'm quite happy with the not "owning", but for music I really LOVE I need to go all the way!

Yesterday I "bought" the new Decemberists album from iTunes (technically it's on Rough Trade over here so I didn't break my new years resolution to not buy major label records!) and in this instance I feel fine with not "owning" it (and I own this less than most because of the evils of DRM that iTunes music has), maybe because it's just a little too polished for me to truly love it.

After nearly four months of a more committed relationship with downloading it seems that I might be able to get on with it - with exceptions for the truly exceptional.