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February 15, 2005



AudioLunchbox is another place you can buy DRM-free songs by the track or album. Buying a song generally gets you both a 192kbps VBR MP3 and a Q6 Ogg Vorbis file. Same pricing as iTunes ($0.99 a track), but of course, not nearly as good a selection. But it's actually not bad, including artists like Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol, Lisa Loeb, Dar Williams, Jill Sobule, Queens of the Stone Age, Brand New, and Rilo Kiley. And yes, Mozart.

I'm not affiliated with them. Just a satisfied customer.

Nick Lewis

Dan, about eight months ago, I did a bit of research for my Dad (who I believe is actually friend of yours) Peter Lewis. I gathered info on about12 online music services. I suppose my number one overall gripe was, of course, the obvious effort most of them made at hiding the fine print (i.e. what sort of DRM they used, along with what rights the customer actually had to the songs they bought.)

However, I'm also a lover of classical music, and own about 300 classical CDs. I've actually bought out all of the recordings that are worth their 18 dollar price tag in Austin music stores. Apparently, Austin is not large enough of a city to need a decent classical music selection. And its obvious that the distributors are unaware that there is a difference between the way Vladimir Horowitz and David Helfgott play Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto.

So, until I discovered p-2-p file sharing(which I'd never use illegally!), the only place I could find those holy-grail recordings was Tower Records in New York City.

I thought that perhaps, the record companies might take advantage of this new way of selling music, and allow me to download the rarest, yet most legendary recordings (i.e. John Ogden's appassionata). I'd be willing to pay 20 dollars for an mp3 of that 20 min piece. I've been looking for it for over 8 years.

However, instead, all I found (if they bothered to sell classical music at all) would be the same old "Rachmaninoff for Lovers. Performed by the Junior Symphony of the Albanian Community Conservatory and Piano Student Sweatshops of Banglore". But I could find that recording in Fief, Alabama (they flood the market with those "best of" crap-compliations.

So, long story short, guess where the one and only place I can find decent classical music is? Those shadowy p-2-p networks; and not only is it the best selection of classical music in existence (besides Virgin's store in NYC) -- its free. I'd never use those illegal services, though. After all, regardless of the fact that record companies apparently no longer distribute these recordings, I'm sure they'd nevertheless jump at the PR opprotunity of suing me for sharing them, god forbid I actually found one of them at an estate sale, or at a second hand record store. Its almost as good as suing a dead grandmother. Especially since most everyone involved in composing the music, and performing those works is dead.

Then again, if I was looking for a Kid Rock album, I'm sure I'd be happier with their services.

Sorry for the long comment; this is just the first time I've heard someone else point out this turd in the RIAA's "we offer you legal services, and they are better" punchbowl, so I had to unload.


Dan, my search under "albums" came up with a small number of Mozart selections. If you just searched for artists, you'll find he, like Vivaldi, Beethoven and others, hasn't spent much time in the studio recording lately, which may be the problem. ;-)

I suspect that like most of the services, they need volumes of popular music to turn a profit before their portfolio of less demanded music can be enhanced.

Nick is right...the selections generally are miserable for most of the services because to many people, the Four Seasons is the Four Seasons, whether done by Spike Jones or St. Martin in the Fields. Same for seminal jazz, blues, rag and other genres. That's why the extension of copyright for a gazillion years is so unfortunate. Greed trumps the public interest.

Mike Weston

There's a fair amount of Mozart on, which is DRM-free and about $0.25 a track if you use all of the tracks in a subscription ($10/month for 40 tracks). They are MP3s, mostly encoded in 192kbps VBR.

Thomas Hawk

Well Dan, the reason you can't find Mozart is that the media companies and the RIAA are now making the case for permanent copy rights and that certainly Mozart himself (not to mention his children and family) need to benefit from the .01 of the $16.99 they charge for Mozart CDs. I mean, why should you get to listen to Mozart free of charge? Don't you realize you're hurting the strugling artist... not to mention his kids? Your taking food directly from their mouths. What kind of free ride do you think this is anyways?

Jeez, next thing you know you're going to be asking for jazz from the '20s. It's a very slippery slope when you start giving people these kind of things without DRM. Yeah, Mozart should definately only be sold with DRM. That's what he would have wanted -- a bunch of us had drinks with him just last Wednesday night at the Sky Bar and he confirmed as much.


I suspect that like most of the services, they need volumes of popular music to turn a profit before their portfolio of less demanded music can be enhanced.

That doesn't really make sense to me. After all, they would need to rip the arcane stuff once, and only once, the labor cost for that + the storage represents their fixed costs (and combined, I suspect that would be fairly low). Everything after that would be cost-of-sale or margin, and people with esoteric tastes are often willing to pay far more to satisfy those tastes than the consumer of everyday goods. I reckon the long tail would be a perfect place to make money.


It takes a lot of guts for Michael Robertson to try to get back into the MP3 business again after the extensive litigation. He thinks too much like the customer and tries to avoid being controlled by the content companies.

Getting Mozart recordings on-line probably requires the involvement of the major symphonies around the world for the ASCAP (Performance Rights and Royalties).
Send lawyers, guns and money... lots of money. There will be dozens of groups needing to aign-off and negotiate payments for a typical NY Phil recording of
Mozarts Symphony Number 40.

Anyway, I'm going to head over to Michael's service and buy something to support the effort to give us DRM-less music we can put where we need it, when we need it. That's the real story from the users perspective... No DRM. Just say NO to DRM. If you don't know what DRM is dear comment lurker... You will. Oh yes, you will grow to hate that acronym very soon. Radio will soon be re-tooled with DRM
technology and DC's and DVD's and at some point in the near future... the very Air(tm) itself. And that's the real story... The important story. The story that begs to be told.


Folks, check out MP3 songs (encoded 128-192), no DRM, mostly independent. Songs are priced by the artists themselves and there are over 1800 priced at only 25 cents. And the artist gets 70% of the earnings! Looks to me like Mp3Tunes is not breaking any new ground, just copying the trail that MPERIA has blazed. If you want to support artists, instead of the distribution network, check out MPERIA.

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