Update: the site shopping cart is broken, and doesn’t properly remove items from the total owing — too bad.
Here’s one easy way: via TechCrunch, Deutsche Grammophon, the gold standard in renaissance/ baroque/ classical/ romantic/ orchestral/ opera/ etc. music (often confusingly referred to collectively as “classical”, roughly equivalent calling all popular music since 1890 “rap”), will start selling their catalogue as unprotected MP3s at midnight German time tonight (6:00 pm in New York City) at their new site dgwebshop.com.
As a teenager in the late 1970s, I used to visit the House of Sound in Kingston (Canada), where they had thousands of DG records — probably most of the catalogue — packed in tight on on shelves lining a wall of the store. I couldn’t always afford them, but I loved being able just to pull them out and take a look at the covers of the different famous recordings. These days, the so-called classical music section of any but a couple of specialized stores in big cities like New York or London have maybe one or two rows of worthless classical-pop compilations hidden behind the DVDs of TV series nobody watched in the 1980s — no wonder people don’t shop at record stores any more.
We tech types have been claiming for a while that music companies could make more money selling unprotected digital music, so here’s the test. I plan to give them a lot of my own money if the site actually works, though I should note a couple of caveats:
- Many current DG buyers are audiophiles who won’t be satisfied with the sound quality of MP3s (which are optimized more for boom-boom music), so this will probably open a new market for DG rather than leaching their current one.
- DG’s market is mostly affulent people outside the intense social environment of high school or university, so people will be less likely to share these MP3s — and even if they do, it will probably just act as a promo for the higher quality recordings.
I hope the site can handle the traffic. Rock on, Deutsche Grammophon!