Thursday, May 12, 2011

Some rules for buying CDs

So I have this list, several hundred items long, of significant or noticeable gaps in my music collection. Things I somehow never got round to; lots of full operas, for example, and Mozart piano concertos, and Dvorak symphonies, and many many bits and pieces such as - picking the first one I set my eyes on - Holst's St Paul's Suite. The list is of CDs, not compositions, though, as I've painstakingly picked out just a single recording in each case. This means that when I go on a buying trip I'll be eliminating the fretting about "is this version a good one?" and also I'll be focusing on the list and that should eliminate excessive spending. In theory.
The easiest way to get everything on the list is to download it all illegally, but obviously that's a non-starter for ethical reasons. Other strategies that involve money changing hands also have some personal ethical aspects to consider. For instance, I still prefer CDs to downloads, blinkered conservative that I am, so if I can buy a CD instead of a download I'll do that. Moreover, I still like to browse CD shelves, so if I can buy from an actual high-street shop, all the better. And I prefer to buy from people who care about what they're selling. I'm not vastly rich, though, so the relative costs come into play. So there are some ground rules.
- Give the high-street retailer a chance first. If you live on the island of Ireland this means Tower Records in Dublin. As far as I'm aware there isn't any other shop that makes a genuine effort to stock classical CDs. Unfortunately Tower's prices are kinda high.
- Then there's the second-hand places, of which there's a small number in Dublin. Well, OK, only Chapters, which doesn't have very much; the other places might occasionally get a good classical disc in. I regard buying CDs in these shops as an act of liberation, saving the album from years of gathering dust. Of course the artists and labels don't get any money if you buy a second-hand CD, but on the plus side you're not supporting terrorists, either. Or have I misunderstood the thrust of anti-piracy adverts?
- Now let's go with the mail-order sites, like MDT, Presto, Crotchet, and Europadisc. Go with these specialist stores over Amazon if you can, though Amazon is tempting. Amazon Marketplace can be very tempting, especially with second-hand discs, although the price wars make you stop and think. A firm called Zoverstock undercuts the cheapest by one penny, no matter what the cheapest is. Good business practice for Zoverstock, but it's like buying from Tesco then. Give some others a chance.
- Download sites. iTunes doesn't need my money. Amazon doesn't want my money (well, it probably does, but it's not allowed take it). Qobuz takes my money but probably shouldn't. 7digital wants my money but it's usually more expensive than Qobuz and doesn't even list "classical" as one of its genre tags, the bollixes. Passionato wants way more of my money than I'm prepared to part with. If the record label offers competitive prices (Hyperion, for instance) then go with the label's site.
- Oh yes, I forgot eMusic. Tracks still cost me less than 20 cents each, which means it's extremely rare for me to find anything on eMusic that could be obtained cheaper elsewhere.

When I have bought everything on the list, what will happen then? I will make another list.

No comments: