Downloading Music Legally is Hard

Album Cover: First Impressions of Earth

"Don't be a coconut. God is trying to talk to you."
The Strokes / Ask Me Anything

Posted on March 14, 2005 1:25 AM in Music
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

I don't know why I'm posting about downloading music so much lately, but oh well. Over the course of this weekend, after purchasing three bottles of Code Red, I managed to go 3-for-3 in the Pepsi / iTunes promotion which is pretty good, considering the odds are advertised as 1-in-3.

I decided to sign up for an iTunes Music Store account tonight (so the promotion worked) and claim my 3 songs. Little did I know how hard it would be to download music legally.

When you think about it, the songs were free, so I really had nothing to lose by purchasing and downloading just about anything. However, I'm not one to take music lightly, so I weighed all my options. The first choice was simple, I downloaded "Bi^*#es Ain't S@*t" by Ben Folds, since it was listed in the store as one of the top ten most popular songs.

Things got exponentially difficult after that, though. I searched for artists such as Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Audioslave, Jay-Z and many others hoping that iTunes might have some exclusive downloads. I was disappointed to find that they do not.

Another feature lacking from the iTunes store, at least from what I could tell, is the ability to preview a song before purchasing it. If I was dealing with my own hard-earned $0.99 I'd have a hard time downloading a song that looked intriguing without the option to at least hear a little bit of what the song has to offer. I had a hard enough time as it was, and I was dealing with free (basically) credits.

While trying to come up with some ideas, I started thinking about some of the obscure songs I had listened to while growing up that were getting increasingly hard to find online. Unfortunately, iTunes was missing several of these songs (e.g. "Years Ago" by Super Deluxe). I eventually remembered that "Game Don't Wait" by Warren G has always come back as what sounds like a phonograph recording when I download it from P2P apps. That became my second "purchase."

Not long after I started feeling like I wasn't going to find a third song worth purchasing, I thought to try and look for something in the Electronica genre. Moby came to mind first, but I decided to download "Galvanize" by The Chemical Brothers since they have a new album out.

In the end, I am pleased with my choices. The Ben Folds track is hilarious (especially being a fan of The Chronic) and "Galvanize" is exactly what I'd expect from The Chemical Brothers. The nice surprise, though, is that "Game Don't Wait" is actually a different mix than the one I've downloaded in the past. I actually like it a lot. Then again, you can't ever go wrong with Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G all on the same track.

The moral of the story is, downloading free music legally is a lot harder than you might think. I imagine it's even harder when it's not free. I don't anticipate finding myself in that dilemma anytime soon, though. If you're like me and find yourself in a rough spot trying to come up with ideas for your free iTunes downloads, definitely give the aforementioned songs a try. You won't be disappointed.


James on March 15, 2005 at 5:51 AM:

Previewing a song in iTunes is as easy as double-clicking the title. At least, that's how the software works on an Apple, and my understanding is that the Wintel version is identical in most respects.

I have a hard time choosing music, myself. I end up keeping stuff in my shopping cart for weeks, just because I don't want to rush into buying something I might wish I hadn't bought later. Upon reflection, I think I actually expend more effort selecting a la carte tracks for purchase than I used to when buying whole albums on CD.


Bernie Zimmermann on March 15, 2005 at 3:29 PM:

Thanks for the tip, James. You're absolutely right. Double clicking on the track plays a short preview. That would have helped with my purchasing dilemma ;)


Shayla Jade on November 24, 2005 at 12:06 AM:

I am SO glad I came across this entry of yours. I was freaking out because I couldn't figure out how to preview a song before buying it. Seriously I'm not just going to throw my $0.99 around not knowing what I'm about to buy, of course this only applies to artists/bands I'm not familiar with.

Thanks for posting this problem of yours and finding an answer!

Love Always
Shayla Jade


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