Shark Week at Murfie?

Okay, it’s not Shark Week at Murfie. But it is SEARCH WEEK! Our hard-working engineers are giddily fiddling with their buttons, knobs, and switches to make searching for artists and albums on Murfie a more rockin’ experience. We know that sometimes it’s hard to find that specific album you’re lookin’ for, and we want to make that simpler. Y’see, we like it when you buy music. It makes us warm. And happy. And all smiley inside. It also pays our bills!

So if you see any odd behavior in the near future with your search results, please feel free to blame it on us, and accept our apologies. If you have any questions or comments about your search results, we are always happy to hear from you and help out at support@murfie.com. Thanks for your patience!

Don’t Bury Your Digital Music!

One of the questions we get here at Murfie over and over again runs along the lines of:

What happens to my music when I die?

We get the question so often that we’ve set up two FAQ items to clarify the situation for our members (and prospective members):

On average, each of our members own and store 120 compact discs at Murfie. If they purchased them all new, each such average-sized collection represents an investment of as much as $2,000. In fact, in the United States alone, consumers have purchased around 15 billion compact discs at a cost (in today’s dollars) of about a quarter-trillion dollars. WOW! Some of our biggest members have as much as $50,000 or more invested in their CD collections!

So it’s not surprising that people think of their music collections as “assets” that they may want to hand down to their family, friends, or favorite charities. News outlets such as CNet and TIME Magazine have even addressed these “digital asset” inheritance issues. At Murfie, our members own their music, and it’s their business what happens to it after they’re gone.

This Week in Music History (April 18th-24th)

 

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

37466-large4/18– “Miss Peaches”, the amazing vocalist Etta James, received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on this Day in 2003. Her voice was sublime and her work spanned just about every genre imaginable. Truly a deserving tribute to an incredible lady!

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4/19– On this day in 2010, we sadly lost the gifted Keith Elam—better known as the producer and rapper Guru. Guru was a founding member of Gang Starr and truly came into his own as a solo artist with his Jazzmatazz series, mixing hip-hop and jazz heavies. We miss you, Guru.

35372-large4/20– In 1968, the band Deep Purple performed their debut concert in none other than Tastrup, Denmark.

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4/21– Making history in 1999, Brooks & Dunn debuted their video “South of Santa Fe”. It was the first time a country music video had hit both the TV and the internet simultaneously. Congrats, gents!

185926-large4/22Saturday Night Live has given us many amazing talents over the years, but perhaps none so bright as The Blues Brothers. It was on this date in 1978 that John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made their first appearance as the troubled ‘brothers’ singin’ their hearts and souls out like it was nobody’s business.

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4/23Harry Belafonte had a vision, and on this day in 1985 it was released upon the planet. We are the World captured hearts and minds around the globe, and it ultimately raised over $60M for humanitarian aid in both Africa and the US.

MI00000041084/24– While checking into the ultra-luxe Imperial Hotel in Vienna Austria in 2007, President George W. Bush was denied a luxury suite because Mick Jagger, in town with The Rolling Stones on tour, had already booked the place up. I guess those Austrians have some music-respectful means of judging priority: while at that point W had been president for just over six years, Mick had been on top of the heap for well over 40!

Oh, you wanna own any of these albums, or hear ‘em in lossless format? Well whaddya know…we just so happen to have them for sale! Right now these titles start at just $1, so get ‘em before they’re gone!

This Week in Music History (April 11th-17th)

 

The story continues, and Henry’s tradition lives on! Learn up and boogie down!

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4/11– Setting up a bittersweet moment on this day in 1994, Nirvana‘s final studio album In Utero was certified double-platinum by the RIAA, while on the same day a Seattle, WA coroner ruled that lead singer Kurt Kobain’s death was officially a suicide.

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4/12- Making history on this day in 1999, Shania Twain became the only female artist in music history to sell over 10M units with back to back albums: The Woman in Me (1995) and Come on Over (1997).

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4/13Willie Nelson is always stirring up some sort of trouble! On this auspicious day in 2005, Willie had his attorney send Texas state senator Gonzalo Barrientos a (presumably polite) letter declining to have a toll road named after himself. A toll road? Nelson told the Austin America-Statesman, “I’d put my name on an electric chair, too, but I don’t think that’s be too great a thing.”

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4/14– Whether Chuck D and crew knew it at the time, they were making history in 1988 when Public Enemy‘s second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, hit the streets hard, loud and unapologetic.

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4/15– Sir Elton John is often and lovingly out in front of charitable efforts. On this day in 2006, he’d “cleaned out his closet”  and raised nearly $1M for his AIDS foundation by selling over ten thousand articles of clothing at the “Elton’s Closet” sale in New York. Not sure we can conceive how BIG that closet must have been ;-).

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4/16– Avant-grade jazz musician Ornette Coleman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music on this day in 2007 for his album Sound Grammar, which was the first work of jazz to receive the Pulitzer honor.

39874-large4/17– The iconic Johnny Cash performed at the White House on this day in 1970 at the invitation for President Richard M. Nixon. Following the performance, the president and first lady spent hours with Johnny and his wife, June Carter, touring the White House and enjoying each others company immensely – with nary a mention of politics.

Oh, you wanna own any of these gems, or hear ’em in lossless format? Well whaddya know, we just so happen to have them for sale! Right now these titles start at just $1, so get ‘em before they’re gone!

TIME Ponders Digital Music at End-Times

A copy of a recent issue of TIME crossed my desk recently, and an article by Katy Steinmetz asks:

What happens to your virtual things when you’re gone?

Steinmetz’s article “From Here to E-ternity” isn’t available online – except to subscribers – but it is worth seeking out, as she thoughtfully surveys the state of “post-death” rules and options around E-Books, Music, Games, Photos, Movies & TV, E-Mail, Social Media, and Domains.

The good folks at the Guardian Express did a nice follow-on piece that includes much of the data from the TIME article. The  grid of the different media types is worth a look-see.

We at Murfie believe that you can and should own your music. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of albums on Murfie, and each is backed by a physical Compact Disc that belongs to a customer. It’s theirs to take physical delivery of, stream or download music from, to give away, to sell, or even to pass along to their progeny when they shuffle off this mortal coil.

Owned -vs- Rented Media and the “Right to Resell”

Bill Rosenblatt of GiantSteps Media published a thought-provoking article The right to resell: a ticking time bomb over digital goods. It’s worth a read. Below I’ve shared some of my comments on his article.

When it comes to media in our culture today, we have two crisp models of acquisition, as defined by contracts, legislation, and case law: ownership and rental. Ownership falls almost exclusively into the “physical media” bucket and “digital media” is generally a rental (licensed) model. I for one hope we can someday work out a third model for “digital ownership” that works for consumers and for creators and for rights-holders.

If we as a society can create this third model of “digital ownership” sooner rather than later, we can leave “rented media” behind, in what will be a comparatively small bucket of “non-transferrable assets.” For example, over the last 30 years, US consumers have invested, in 2012 dollars, on the order of a quarter-trillion dollars in physical CDs, each with crisp fair-use and first-sale rights. The comparative total investment in rented digital music in the last 8 years is on the order of 5% of that.

We should be thoughtful about railing against rights-holders for the legal rights (or lack thereof) of the digital music that consumers have (bought) rented. In theory, we consumers knew exactly what we were getting into. That is to say, the terms of the licenses we agreed to are not unclear. Of course one can argue whether the average 18 year-old can and will read and understand all that legalese.

The ReDigi solution strives to expand the scopes of both legislative dicta and case-law. As Mr. Rosenblatt suggests, they’ve chosen a challenging mountain to climb. I’m not so sure I agree with his aside that it’s an odd position for ReDigi to take to enable first-sale-like rights AND bring the rights-holders in to participate as well. While this is indeed a deviation from what legislatures and judges have enabled, let’s be open-minded about asking questions like “why not?” as we attempt to sort out these thorny problems.

The fundamental challenge here (IMHO) is that most consumers of downloaded content make certain assumptions that they have fair-use and first-sale rights. They do not generally have those rights.

Each and every day Murfie wrestles with these issues of ownership -vs- rental as we attempt to integrate all of our customers’ music purchases across any and every physical and digital format.

Borrow My Borrowed Book

The issue of media ownership vs. rental isn’t just a music industry concern. Earlier this week, Publishers Weekly published a news item questioning and explaining some of the mechanics about how libraries purchase (license) eBooks from publishers.

Libraries to most folks are all about conservation and permanence. Heck, over 90% of all the US libraries that Andrew Carnegie funded 100 years ago are still standing! It struck me as curious to think of a library patron borrowing an eBook from a library who in turn has effectively borrowed it from the publisher. How far can that be extrapolated?

The next few years will see all forms of media wrestling with the issues of folks ‘owning’ media versus folks ‘renting’ their media.

Speaking of libraries, the attached photo is the ~3,600-disc-strong CD collection of the Medfield Public Library in Medfield, MA. Discs that they own and lend to their patrons.