Just this morning as I was perusing an e-flyer from Circuit City, I happened to notice an ad for a new kind of digital music service. It’s called “Get Digital” and the service is the mass-ripping of large collections of CD’s. No joke, they want to charge you to rip your CD’s and convert the music to MP3 files, for your Ipod, car MP3 player, etc.
Now, the first question in my head is, why would anyone pay someone to do something you could do just as well and for free at home? Even yuppies who are tied to a laptop or cell phone 24/7 can usually find a few minutes to slip a favorite CD into that laptop’s CD-ROM drive and rip it. Get Digital’s prices range from $1.49 per disc for 50 to 200 discs, to 99 cents per disc for 400 or more (if you want bitrates over 256 Kbps, that costs a few cents extra). Now, I was never that good at math, but if you send these guys 1,000 of your precious music CD’s, that adds up to, let’s see, $990.00. Not including the cost of shipping the darned things. And speaking of shipping of shipping, do you really trust the postal service or UPS to handle your precious music collection with care, and not lose it? I didn’t think so!
If this service catches on, there are other specters lurking on the horizon. Will the RIAA in its infinite greed and arrogance mandate a kind of DRM (that’s “Digital Rights Management”, or “Digital Ripoff Method”) which would make home-copying of CD’s impossible, forcing you to mail away your music to someplace like Get Digital, who will doubtlessly be strong-armed into charging “use royalties” on top of their existing fees by cocaine-addled record company wonks? Will money from use royalties rightfully belonging to artists like say, Leo Kottke, Frank Zappa and Thievery Corporation instead end up going to whoever’s at the top of the RIAA sales charts, as has always been the case? Will the resulting MP3's be programmed to disappear from your player after a pre-set time?
Let’s hope that this super-consumer-soaker scheme goes the way of the 8-track tape, real soon.