Ripe for the ripping

Murfie will rip your CDs

A lot of people tell us: “Murfie looks great, but I haven’t gotten around to putting my CD collection on my iPod.”  Well, let’s take a look at your options…

Recently, PCWorld argued the case for ripping CDs without iTunes.  The rationale boiled down to four reasons, which I’ll enumerate in a sec, but do check out the article for complete coverage.
1) You may want to rip to audio file formats that iTunes doesn’t support, like FLAC.
2) You may want to rip your CDs in a byte-accurate or “secure” manner, something iTunes doesn’t support.
3) You may want to use a CD identification database other than Gracenote, which is what iTunes uses.
4) You may want to rip audiobooks.

Now, why should you let Murfie rip your music?  For starters, we use commercial-quality equipment to rip your CDs.  Secondly, the ripping software that we use is able to verify and separate errors, so bad tracks will always be either corrected (re-reads, disc polishing) or reported.  Thirdly, your album metadata is cross-checked among four databases, including the Rovi Music database which is considered the industry’s most in-depth database of descriptive data for music.  Fourthly, although Murfie doesn’t MAKE you give up your CDs and get them ripped at Murfie HQ by our practiced team, I bet you could think of a bunch of pastimes more worthy of your time than ripping your CD collection.

“How difficult is it to pop a CD, or even 100 CDs, into your computer and rip them?”  This was a comment to our article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and it’s a completely reasonable question.  But if you haven’t gotten around to doing it yourself yet, do you really think it’s something you’ll get to anytime soon?  If, in your heart of hearts, you’re thinking “probably not, I’d rather enjoy listening to—not ripping—my music,” consider the value of our service.  Murfie charges only $1/disc, which covers all of the benefits highlighted above (count ‘em, there’s four!).   Every disc you send us also becomes part of your account on the Murfie ecosystem (aka our online music exchange/marketplace), so you’ll have the built-in option of selling or trading any discs you no longer want.  Or, if you just want us to professionally rip your entire CD collection for you, you have that option too.

So, to take advantage of our secure ripping service, and/or search for and purchase new music in exchange for idle CDs, you only have to ask yourself one question.  Do you have any CDs ripe for the ripping?

Teach me how to Murfie

How does Murfie work?

A new product or service can be cool, even epically cool, but if you can’t explain it (What is it? What does it do?), then no dice.  Consumers want to understand, at least at some level, what it is that they’re consuming.  The big WHAT question must be returned by simple, elegant, and hopefully memorable answers.  Now, what would you say to someone who asked, “What’s Murfie, and how does it work?”  Would you feel a little unsure or hesitant?  Would your response be watery and wandering?  Well, no worries…I’ll give you a cheat sheet.  Here are some ways to answer.

  • Free your CDs
  • A new way to buy, sell and trade your music
  • Online music exchange
  • Music marketplace
  • The green solution to used CDs
  • Helping the earth one CD collection at a time

I could keep going, but why should I let words do the talking when Murfie has an awesome HOW-TO video that will teach you how to Murfie?

Face-off between Andrew Bird and Justin Bieber

What defines good music?

I’m endlessly fascinated by the arguments people make when wrangling over so-called good music versus so-called bad music.  Although music is incredibly nuanced, often this debate centers on the quality gap between popular/mainstream music and alt/underground music, with the stuff dominating the airwaves pinned down as inferior to the stuff that is less accessible.

True, it can be difficult to get an earful of alt music if you tune into channels of mass communication, but that doesn’t necessarily mean omnipresent stuff is lowbrow and the rare stuff is automatically better.  Nevertheless, many, many people (who shall remain unnamed…I like to “protect” my “sources”) think it so.  Are they right?  In many cases, yes, but in many cases, no…not all music playing on the radio 24/7 is trashtastic.  For example, Bruno Mars is quite popular these days, and he surely has talent.

Now, here’s a typical case of the too little-too much discourse.
Good? Andrew Bird
Bad? Justin Bieber

My conclusion is, who cares about definitions!?  If you’re of the opinion that Ryan Seacrest-style countdowns are populated by garbage, there’s plenty of other avenues (record store! Sirius Satellite Radio! YouTube! Murfie.com!) to quench your music-type thirst.  On the other hand, if you think that alternative music is pretentious or grating, just turn on the radio and access your good music definition by flipping to any popular station.  Moral is, considering the host of media technologies out there, definitions aren’t even necessary and kind of nonsensical…unless of course, arguing is your definition of a good time.

Shout-out from Badger Herald, shout-out to FLAC!

Appeasing audiophiles and non-audiophiles alike

The Badger Herald just published a great article on Murfie describing our green, cheap, and legit way to exchange CDs for more music.  In general, they interpret the Murfie business model and vision quite well.  I especially dug how they communicated that “while single-track downloads aren’t available, Murfie users can get entire albums for about the price of a single song on iTunes without the potential for torrent-fueled free music guilt.”  Admit it, a very small part of you feels (or would feel) sheepish downloading music illegally.  Or maybe not…

The point is, music sold on murfie.com is a great value.  And it’s legit.  And it’s green.  And The Badger Herald did an awesome job making this all plain.  There is one thing I wanted to respond to, though, and that’s the article’s mention that “hardcore, snobbish audiophiles might scoff at owning music in exclusively digital formats.”  Believe it or not, Murfie has the goods to satisfy these picky audiophile-types.  On murfie.com, music is available for download in MP3…and FLAC – a lossless file format.  Audio compressed in FLAC exactly preserves the fidelity of the original CD, providing comfort to aforementioned audiophiles that they are listening to music at a level of quality close to the original performance’s.  Maybe it is possible to have it all?

Staff Picks: Electronica

This week we like…Electronica

To honor the launch of our new digital music download function, this week’s Staff Picks is dedicated to the best of our Electronica collection.  Like Murfie, all of these albums are a surprising mix of digital and analog, and all are excellent. 

Thievery Corporation: “The Richest Man in Babylon”

HTML tutorialThis Washington, D.C.-based DJ duo draws on reggae, dub, middle eastern, and bossa nova influences and distills them into a suave, psychedelic electro-lounge sound.  “The Richest Man in Babylon” was produced with the help of a cadre of international singers and session musicians, and includes songs in French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Persian.

Morcheeba: “The Big Calm”

Morcheeba was started in the mid-90s in Britain by brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey and vocalist Skye Edwards.  After establishing a modish, trip-hop aesthetic with their first album, “Who Can You Trust,” the group expanded on their Rhodes-based, downtempo sound with the release of “The Big Calm,” a more sunny, pop-influenced album.  This album includes the single “The Sea,” which saw minor success on radio and television.

Portishead: “Portishead”

HTML tutorialAnother British electronica group, Portishead displays a considerably darker and less polished sound than the other offerings here.  Their 1997 self-titled album was released after three years of media aversion, and spawned several highly regarded singles.  The video for one of these singles, “Only You,” was produced by Chris Cunningham, and remains one of the most haunting music videos of the 1990s.

Daft Punk: “Homework”

“Homework” is the debut album of French duo Daft Punk, and easily the liveliest of the albums presented here.  Mixing influences ranging from 80’s Disco to Detroit and Chicago House culture to FM radio compression algorithms, this album is a squiggly, bouncing, thumping ode to electronic dance music.

Good times with Michael Biehn

The nostalgic value of music

Visiting murfie.com is like combing through a crowded chest of drawers – full of old stuff that may have gotten a bit dusty but nevertheless retains sentimental value.  The only difference being that the contents of, for example, your great uncle Alfred’s “treasure box” may be a bit iffy in terms of their cool quotient, whereas it’s a safer bet Murfie’s storage vault contains good stuff (if you don’t like music, that’s a bit weird).

Everyone has that song, or those songs, that evoke wistful affection.  For me, a Spacehog track (“Carry On,” anyone?) reveals my treacly heart for the alt/glam rock of the mid to late 90s.  I also get a personal kick out of Elvis music (“Burning Love“) and movies (“C’mon Everybody” from Viva Las Vegas).  My nostalgia for Elvis-era stuff is completely arbitrary (not to brag, but I lack personal associations to the 50s and 60s…because I wasn’t born yet), but the cool thing about music is that one’s source of affection doesn’t really matter.

I’m not kidding, though – most of my nostalgic predilections are random.  I am a sucker for 80’s pop culture, especially the decade’s sci-fi action film genre.  Basically anything with 80’s action film phenom Michael Biehn is good in my book.  Who doesn’t want to relive the days of “Come with me if you want to live” Kyle Reese (The Terminator); “I like to keep this handy…for close encounters” Cpl. Dwayne Hicks (Aliens); and “It went straight for the warhead, and they think it’s cute” Lt. Hiram Coffey (The Abyss)?  I do.

So now that I’ve shared some of my random (hip? probably lame?) sentimental attachments, tell me, Murfie readers – what past pop culture icons or trends make you entertain feelings of sentimental longing?  Does a certain band or song bring about wistful affection, however random or uncool?  What about a movie?  Fashion trend?  Food?

Staff Picks: Soundtracks

This week we like…Soundtracks

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, we at Murfie decided to dedicate this week’s staff picks to the film and TV soundtracks that have made their way across our desks recently.  Some are old, some are new, but all have been hand-selected for the enjoyment of you, the Murfieist.

Jacques Loussier/Ennio Morricone: “Dark of the Sun/Guns for San Sebastian”

Dark SunDark of the Sun is a violent adventure film from 1968 set in the Congo, with a score by French pianist Jacques Loussier.  Several tracks from Loussier’s soundtrack were later re-used in the film Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino, a confirmed fan of the original film.  Also included is the score to The Guns for San Sebastian, a Spaghetti Western also from 1968 that starred Charles Bronson and Anthony Quinn.  This score was composed by Ennio Morricone, easily one of the most influential popular composers of his time, and remembered mostly for his scores to several of director Sergio Leone’s best Spaghetti Westerns, including A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Dust Brothers: “Fight Club”

David Fincher’s 1999 adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel Fight Club suffered from one of the worst marketing campaigns in history, and was one of the most critically reviled films that year.  However, after its release to DVD, it quickly became an established cult hit due to its striking cinematography, gleefully dark performances, and of course its playful and haunting soundtrack by The Dust Brothers, known for their revolutionary work with the Beastie Boys and Beck.

Bernard Herrmann: “Taxi Driver”

Taxi DriverMartin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver, a violent tale of the isolation and paranoia of city life in America, was dedicated to Bernard Herrmann, whose score for the film was his last.  Herrmann was well known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock, having scored Pyscho and Vertigo, and is also responsible for the unmistakable theme to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone television series.  Herrmann’s score for Taxi Driver is jarring and evocative, and “Diary of a Taxi Driver” features Robert DeNiro’s iconic opening voiceover.

Air: “The Virgin Suicides”

Sofia Coppola’s 1999 adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel The Virgin Suicides is a haunting exercise in both dark melodrama and understated 1970s period style.  The French electronic duo Air supplied a fantastic soundtrack for this film, one which contributed to both the surreality of the film and the palatability of its dark subject matter.  The soundtrack revolves around the bittersweet single “Playground Love,” featuring vocals by Gordon Tracks, and is capable of standing by itself as an album of nostalgic, dreamy electronic grooves.