1390 AM today mentioned World Music dot National Geographic dot com
. It turns out it's a collaboration with Calabash Music
. Calabash's slogan is "The World's First Fair Trade Music Company," meaning that artists get 50% of sales, which is a damn good deal.
The site offers DRM
-free mp3s from scores of world artists. Like iTunes Music Store
, songs are 99 cents a piece, but only 75 cents a piece if you buy 20 credits at a time. They also provide a free single every day
. I added their RSS feed
to my Google Homepage
, but Google doesn't show the artist's picture and the feed doesn't provide the artist or song name. The service is entirely browser-based, including minute-long song sampling. The UI for song sampling could be improved by enqueuing songs at the bottom of the list rather than interrupting the current song and playing it after the new song finishes.
I'm still not sure how I feel about buying music online. I've bought about 20 singles on iTunes, mostly for tamheals
, but I've never bought an entire album online. I like the physical CD: album art, lyrics, easily transportable case. I typically buy music at local independent used CD stores
. Not only does it support local businesses and keep money in the community, the average used CD price is about $7 or $8, so I usually get a slightly better deal than the $1 a song that most download services charge. Pricing by the album also means that an album by The Clancy Brothers
(no songs longer than three minutes) isn't twice as expensive as one by Tabla Beat Science
(average song length close to ten minutes).
On the flip side, buying used CDs doesn't directly fund the musicians. I don't think this is a big deal when buying albums by artists who are popular (does U2 care if I buy used instead of new) or dead (I wonder what Robert Johnson
could do with $15 delivered by time machine). But bypassing production and distribution costs and having some group in Africa
get 50% of the price sounds like a socially and environmentally responsible way to listen to good tunes. I don't get a glossy book, but I can stick a picture in iTunes and may be able to download the lyrics, allowing me to give the album as a DIY present.