Thursday, January 21, 2010

50 Cent Albums: Introduction

Want some great music for only half a euro per album? All legal and above-board, in quality MP3 files DRM free? Thought so!

I have not done a great deal of online music purchases, but this Christmas encountered an album I could only purchase digitally (what a dumb term). This landed me at eMusic, a retailer with a distinct European presence. They sell a fixed 24 download package for a 12 euro monthly subscription. While this isn't the most convenient way to manage purchases, I was encouraged by their incentive of 45 free downloads. 69 tracks for 12 euros? Yes, please!

Better yet, since they price by the track, an album that is one long selection of music costs only 50 cents! Comments on the site indicate that this may not always be true in North America, but it sure is at eMusic Europe.

In this series of articles I will give you some tips on great music that comes almost free. Please note that I have no affiliation with eMusic and get nothing by letting you know about them. I just want to spread some post-New Year's cheer. If you think I'm providing a good service, you can always tip me by donating through the Paypal link in my sidebar. That would be very nice!

But first a couple words about how the site works. As mentioned, the subscription is on a monthly basis, counting 30 days from when you sign up. Unused credits get lost at the end of each period, so you need to track things every month. It is possible to buy additional credits, but you cannot simply decide that you want one extra track and pay for that one. This makes the whole process a bit of a pain to manage.

You need to install their custom download software for the process to work smoothly. They don't tell you this up-front, which is tricksy. I find eMusic Download Manager to be problem-free, other than the fact that I have had one or two downloads get "stuck". The simple thing to do is cancel them and try again. You will not lose an extra credit, since you are free to download the same track repeatedly, at least for a certain grace period after purchase.

The files are DRM free and play anywhere -- that is essential! Best of all, eMusic utilizes the LAME encoder using the "alt preset extreme" setting. This is exactly the same way I convert audio to compressed MP3 files, after extensive listening tests proved to me the value of this setting. Of course I prefer to avoid lossy compression and use FLAC files, but these are significantly larger. I am not surprised they are unavailable from this commercial retailer.

I'll be back really soon with my first recommendations. You can be sure it'll be well worth the 12 euros to get started. And of course you can unsubscribe after the first month and make out like a bandit!

Many of the recommendations will be in the electro-acoustic, minimal and drone veins, simply because those genres lend themselves to hour-long tracks. There will be some stone-cold classics as well as more outre suggestions.

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