Last month I took up a free trial of eMusic. This is a service where you pay monthly for an allotted amount of music and audiobook downloads (they don’t carry over, btw). The files are free of DRM and end up quite inexpensive. I don’t know how good the deal is for the artists, but from a consumer point of view it’s a good half-way house between iTunes and illegal file-sharing.
This is just one of countless download stores out there, from Amazon, Napster, Walmart and all the rest. My problem is this: why don’t they take all the useful info you get on sleeve notes and put it in the meta data? I’m not alone, I’m sure, in scrutinising the track listings, learning who played what, who wrote what, who produced what, who’s getting thanked. Hell, even reading the lyrics now and again.
Occasionally iTunes will offer a DRM-crippled pdf of the CD booklet if you buy an entire album (rather than single tracks), which is something, I suppose, but it’s nowhere near as good as my idea, which is simply to use the ID3 tags.
All the tracks I got from eMusic had lovely embedded artwork, and had the year, artist, album and name tags duly in place, but all the info that you normally get as a matter of course with a CD was conspicuous by its absence. I listen through iTunes which has fields for all the info you could want, always blank. There’s even a Notes bit for those wee mini-essays Springsteen sometimes writes, or some muso journalist wank on retrospectives, or whatever.
It’s easy, it’s cheap. Could it be that the Jurassic music industry is so desperate to keep us buying CDs that they jealously guard the name of the session bass-player on Take That’s new record for those consumers doomed to clutter up there home with yet more shiny discs?