Everybody loves cheap music.

How’s this for a wacky idea: Get with small and medium labels to provide music on the web. Do it as MP3, with a note saying “We trust our users” as your entire DRM strategy. Get big enough that you’ve got thousands of artists in dozens of genres.

It gets weirder: Sell the MP3s. Like, take money for them. Who knew?

A while ago, Substitute pointed me at emusic.com. They’ve got a 14-day or 50-file free trial, which I’m trying right now, and I’m very impressed. I downloaded a few full CDs worth of MP3s, including a couple I already own and am intimately familiar with, and made audio CDs of them. I can tell the difference on my home stereo, but it’s such that I’d really only object if I were to sit down and listen intensely. In the car I can’t tell at all. So this is definitely a workable way to obtain music.

The kicker: For three month subscriptions, it’s US$15 per month. That’s the price of the average CD I buy here, and I tend to get a CD per week or so (usually in batches). This is seriously good. I’ve already found about thirty albums to download.

This is also a good way to build a jazz collection, if that’s your thing — one of the labels they have is Original Jazz Classics, which had reissued a lot of seminal albums.

(Oh, if you decide to try it, I wrote a little program in Perl that takes the “Full Album” RMP metadata from emusic and downloads the associated mp3s.)

Now, I need something to make CD covers. Ideally with cover art, but not necessarily. (I’m happy to find the cover art at Amazon by hand.) Recommendations? I looked at cdlabelgen, but it wasn’t working with album graphics for me.

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