Name your price: Music downloads, the fair way?

Magnatune, I think I love you.

You let me listen to free podcasts in a variety of great, but possibly less mainstream genres (that is, not hip hop or radio pop). You have everything from hammered dulcimer (how sweet the sound!) to electronica. Your podcasts are an hour long each and you have some 150 available for streaming on your website at once. You feature classical music, and you also have a whole genre dedicated to guitar-playing similar to an old favorite of mine, Michael Kelsey.

Speaking of which, I listened to your latest Cool Guitar podcast today. Oh, chère Magnatune, I played it only as background, but one song came on mid-’cast that was so very nice that I had to interrupt my other work to search through the songlist you so graciously provide (complete with links, even!) so that I could find the exact song and make a note to listen to the full album to which it belongs.

It was track 9 from David Modica’s Acoustic Earth, Electric Sky, “Spontaneity.” It reminded me strongly of Michael Kelsey, especially of “Midnight Voices.”

And should I like the rest of this album as fully, you will let me purchase the album — including the right to burn a cd of it — for a price (relatively) of my choosing. My pauper self can offer $5 and own a copy, a high-quality copy, of a whole album. I have had trouble finding many discs used on half.com for such a price. …And when I am not such a pauper, I can choose to support the musician with as high a price as I feel their album is worth (up to $18). Sure, I’m broke now, but if I could afford it, I’d like to pay more for a really great album. I see I’m not the only one, either: some of your more popular albums garner an average of more than $10.

And you give half of that money straight to the artist. And to think, I only earn around 15-20% of the price customers pay for my artwork at the produced-on-demand site Zazzle. (Sure, there I can set my own commission, but if I go much over the 20-point line, no one will buy from me because the prices start to get so high.)

Magnatune, you have made a friend this week. A very happy friend. Thank you.

Ok, weird post maybe, but Magnatune is really cool. They also let you stream a whole album before you pay to download it, and they have free downloads in addition to the podcasts. There’s a Song of the Day and a “relaxation mix” (a free album), Music for Meditation. They work directly with artists, who retain the rights to their music (Magnatune’s right to sell it is non-exclusive). Just check it out, already.

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