MP3's? Hell yes!

I has a surprisingly good experience buying a CD this evening. The album was Superhero, by Stephen Lynch. I saw him on Comedy Central again today, and this time I just had to buy the album. I highly recommend him to anyone with a slightly warped sense of humor.

Anyway, when I clicked the "buy" link for this album on Stephen's website, it took me to a site called What Are Records. The surprise? They had two purchase options for this album: buy the CD for $14.99 or download a zip file of the MP3's for $10.99. Needless to say, I decided to take that option.

To top it off, the MP3's were actually good quality. The ID3 tags were filled in, they were encoded at 192kbps, and even came with MacOSX metadata files (not that that does me any good, but it's a nice touch). No DRM worries, no special software; just a download link to a vanilla zip archive full of standard MP3 files.

This is how buying digital music should be. You give them your credit card number, they give you some media files you can play on your computer, put on your MP3 player, or burn to a CD for the car. No special software, obscure formats, no encryption. Just the files I want with no hoops to jump through. What Are Records: you rock!

Too bad Apple can't learn from these guys. They're the people who are supposed to make everything "just work" and produce such a great user experice with everything, but it's really all just a lie. In their eyes, it's either their way or the highway. If you have a Mac and an iPod, you'll get a great media experience. However, if you don't go Apple all the way, then you can pretty much drop dead for all they care.

Not that I really have anything against Apple. To me, they're no different than Microsoft: just another company doing what's best for their bottom line. There's nothing wrong with that. It just annoys me that Apple gets credit for being the "good guys" of the proprietary software world when, in fact, they're just as evil as everyone else. They just have better "image" people.

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