Magnatune, the independent, Internet only music label, announced that it will start selling CDs of all 322 albums it currently offers as downloads. The company says that CDs will include cover art and a CD case, and will be delivered to your door.
Offering CDs seems to go against the apparent trend by record labels to offer more music via download services, like iTunes. The Mac Observer (TMO) asked John Buckman, owner and founder of Magnatune, why he decided to start offering physical media. Mr. Buckman responded this way:
The main reason for moving to CDs were these two statistics:
1) 25% of the people who visit Magnatune click the "buy" button -- thatis the best rate Iive ever heard of on the inet
2) 90% of the people who hit ibuyi do not complete the transaction -- thatis among the worst rates Iive heard of.
Clearly, people are intrigued, but are hampered by something. To many people, downloading music is scary in the same way as giving your credit card on the internet was scary 3 years ago. Eventually, when everyone has an iPod-like device instead of a CD collection, this fear will be gone, but today, itis a real barrier.
I should also say that my wife and I feel differently about the Magnatune experience. She loves buying stuff online, gets tons from iTunes, and doesnit want more CDs to have to store. I, on the other hand, always want a physical backup (itis my sysadmin training showing through!) and want to be able to store the physical object someplace where I can find it later, so I need to make a tray-insert so the CD contents are readable on a shelf. Thatis lots of work, and it limits the amount of downloadable music I buy online.
I also donit care to pay for a low-fi download when a CD is marginally the same cost. Now, with Magnatune you get a perfect-quality WAV file, equivalent to a CD, but most people still expect a downloaded music file to sound less good.
Itis also been next-to-impossible to get reviews in magazines of Magnatuneis music without physical objects for sale. The press simply donit take "download only" music seriously.
Iive been very pleased with how well Magnatune has done, selling the cutting-edge idea of perfect-quality downloaded music, but I think itis too early for a pure-digital indie label, hence the CD angle."
Magnatune will continue to offer its music as downloads at the normal price of US$5 to $18 (you decide the price), and those downloads will continue to be in MP3 format, with no DRM schemes.
When you buy a CD, you still decide the price you want to pay for the music, and Magnatune will add on $4.97 ($7.97 non-USA), which goes directly to the company which makes the CD and ships it to you. Thus, $8 for the music gets you a CD to your door for $12.97.
Stop by the Magnatune Web site for more information about Magnatune, its music, and its new CD service.