"Buying" music sucks

Published: February 11, 2021   |   Read time:

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I have a friend who makes music for a living. He released an album at the end of 2020. He’s producing his music on his own; he’s not with a label or other music company. I want to buy it and keep the MP3 files. How easy is it to do this?

Spotify

The album is available on Spotify, but you can only stream music from Spotify, not download the MP3s. Spotify is a no-go.

SoundCloud

The album is available on SoundCloud. Like Spotify, you can only stream music, not download the MP3s. SoundCloud is a no-go.

Deezer

The album is available on Deezer. Like Spotify, you can only stream music, not download the MP3s. Deezer is a no-go.

Apple Music

The album is available on Apple Music. Like Spotify, you can only stream music, not download the MP3s. Apple Music is a no-go.

Amazon

The album is available on Amazon, but I’m Canadian, and the album isn’t available through Amazon.ca, only on Amazon.com. This is likely because my friend uses DistroKid, which helps musicians distribute their work across a variety of platforms. It’s based in Delaware, USA, a common tax shelter for American companies. It makes sense that DistroKid primarily services American retailers, since that’s its biggest market. But my friend is also Canadian and lives in Canada, and DistroKid services musicians all over the world. It’s weird that, despite this international operation, I can’t buy music in Canada from my Canadian friend from an international retailers through their Canadian site.

No worries, I can just buy it from Amazon.com in USD, right? Nope.

Failed purchase from Amazon.com -60%

My credit card is up to date and I’ve purchased things from Amazon.com before, but this purchase won’t go through. I can’t seem to add a PayPal account to my Amazon account, so I can’t go that route to try and get around whatever international commerce issue is stopping me here. Amazon is a no-go.

iTunes

The album is available on iTunes. I can purchase it there, download the songs, and access the M4A files. This is how I purchased his earlier album. iTunes doesn’t give the MP3s, but it’s close enough, at least I can purchase it and access actual files. Except that I can’t.

Failed download from iTunes -60%

For some reason, all my downloads are getting interrupted. To try and fix the download issues, I have:

  • installed the 64bit version of iTunes
  • installed the 32bit version of iTunes
  • installed the Microsoft Store version of iTunes
  • unauthorized and reauthorized my computer for iTunes purchases and downloads
  • reset my router
  • restarted my computer

I’ve purchased the music at this point, but can’t actually listen to the music I bought.

YouTube

The album is available on YouTube. Not YouTube Music, just YouTube itself, because my friend also makes other music and videos there, and he decided to release the entire album there, too. I can’t actually stream the audio, I can only watch the video. I could pay for YouTube Premium to get offline downloads or background playback, but that’s money going to YouTube and not to my friend. YouTube is a no-go.

The easiest method to get MP3 files that works within minutes

Because my friend released all the audio on YouTube, I can use a video converter like YTMP3 to convert the videos into MP3 files.

Do you know how long it took for me to manually copy and paste each video link into this site and have the entire album in MP3 format? 5 minutes.

Do you know how long it took me to write this blog post? More than 5 minutes.

Do you know how much my friend gets paid if I take this route? Nothing. The easiest way to get my friend’s music is to pirate it and give him nothing. Despite him working hard to make his music available on as many platforms as possible, on top of the effort he puts into his music.

Steal this comic -60%

Conclusion

“Buying” music today sucks and it screws over musicians. I know this isn’t a new problem. But this post is an ongoing reminder that the major players in this industry have an oligopoly that inhibits buyers from directly accessing the music and musicians they love. These middle-men may add some value, but they work hard to avoid giving me what I actually want.

Screw these guys. Support artists directly.