Getting Music. Getting Indie

I guess I’ve now finally reached a point, where I want to and will try something new for me: Music from majors only if I reeeeally want it. For quite some time now I’ve become more and more annoyed by how big companies like SonyBMG, Warner and their organizations like the RIAA and the IFPI are treating their customers as well as simple the quality of the stuff that is played on the mainstream radio stations. So now I want to do a little experiment on myself and see how long I can survive by primarily getting music from indie labels.

But this isn’t a completely political decision here. For the last couple of years I found more and more interesting music like “Halfway Till Bliss” by Atlas Plug on sites that sold more or less exclusively music from independent labels. And strangely, I heard most of my recent purchases for the first time in some video games (like in this case Crackdown) and not on some radio station.

Ok, while “Halfway Till Bliss” is probably a bad example since I still got it on iTunes for various reasons, it opened my eyes, that I might really try this, because most of the music I got recently was by artists who’s work was available on the first 2 services I list below.

So in the next few paragraphs I want to give you a short overview of what services I’ll be using from now on (with an end-date to be determined ;-)), for what kind of music and also try to explain the why and what I like about them.


eMusic is a subscription service where you pay a fixed sum (between 13 and 21 EUR) each month and can then download between 40 and 90 songs. The songs are un-DRM’d MP3s with a reasonable bitrate (iTunes shows 229kBit/s VBR). They are specialized in “older” music and independent artists.

Thanks to the subscription-system and the number of artists I ever wanted to get some music from (BT, Celldweller, …) I will probably look first here if the song I’m looking for is available. I’m also still in the trial period which makes it even more attractive … since it’s free ;-)

Amie Street

Amie Street is a pay-per-song service where you upload money from your CC (and hopefully also soon from your paypal account) into a virtual bank account which you can then use to buy music there. The most interesting part of this service is their pricing model. If a song is totally unknown, it’s free. The more people buy and recommend it, the more expensive it gets (up to 98cent (US)). You can also get some money back for recommending songs, but I haven’t tried it yet. I guess it works in away that if you buy a song really early, you can later get the price difference (so when it became more expensive) back as some kind of early-adopter reward :) (I would love to see this with video game consoles btw. ;-))

The Flash player makes it easier to just tune it some song compared to what eMusic has to offer (some normal m3us would still me nice though as an alternative). Thanks to it being opened in a popup it’s also more convenient than the iTunes solution.

Within just a few minutes I’ve found enough songs that I registered an account and uploaded some money, which is something I normally don’t do that easily.


I still use iTunes for times where I’m quite sure that getting a whole album would quite frankly be a waste of money for me, so basically for situations where I like exactly one or two songs … and they are not available on one of the 2 services mentioned above. And Apple for me still has a still acceptable DRM system and policy compared to what the record industry wants from you when you have a CD.

Getting the CD (probably from Amazon)

Well, there are still some artists where I absolutely want to have the CD to put into my collection. But the number is actually quite small:

  • Avril Lavigne
  • Billy Talent
  • Depeche Mode (although I already got one song from iTunes since it was the sole song I absolutely loved on one of their remix albums)
  • Juli
  • Wir sind Helden
  • Linkin Park (if they just release another album)

For these bands I absolutely see no problem spending 15EUR per CD … but really only for these bands.

So where are you getting your music from? Can you recommend some other music stores that (legally) sell music without DRM? And no, I don’t consider allofmp3.