buying music - there HAS to be a better way

Leonie and I headed up to the Camden Green Fair on sunday, which was lovely. Nice and warm, nice people, interesting stuff, great music, yummy food. We bought a couple of CD's from some of the bands there (Ginger Ninjas and Amanda Mora), and have spent most of this morning listening to the Radio station of inSpiral, which is a vegan/raw focused cafe/bar/whatever in Camden. So far, in about 2 hours, we have bought one CD off iTunes (Midnight Soul Dive - which is really nice chillout ambient), with more to follow. Finding that in iTunes pointed me to Carbon Based Lifeforms and some Shpongle remixes. Those are next on the shopping list. But I'd rather buy them from inSpiral, not iTunes. Support the locals, and all that.

There were a few other places selling music up there, but all of it was on CD, which I find quite useless. What do I do with the small bit of plastic once I've ripped it? I don't really want to give it away (that would be, technically, illegal), but I don't want to destroy it or store it either.

I think we need another mechanism for this.

How about a custom iTunes voucher? The merchant can generate as many of these as they like (either by buying them, or a charge-on-use model), and are charged a slightly discounted rate (or maybe even full price?). They can then put these codes onto cards or something similar, and sell them for whatever it was they were going to sell them for. Apple takes their usual 30% cut of the voucher price, and 70% goes back to whoever put the tracks up on iTunes (most likely the artist via some aggregator).

eg: Ginger Ninjas have their stuff up on iTunes. Because they are the artist, they get to make codes (maybe setup via the aggregator) at Apple's cost - nothing goes back to the "artist" in this case. Lets say this is $2 (maybe the aggregator takes a cut here, I'm not sure how it works at the moment). They then put this code on a card or something, and sell them at the gig, like they would with CD's. Maybe for $10. $8 profit in the hand. $2 upfront to "press" the tracks. If they dont sell them, they don't get charged, as it's zero cost to Apple.

I guess there is some risk to the purchaser (if the code doesn't work for some reason), but with some customer service, this can be worked around.

The voucher would only be valid for purchasing that one album. Not my choice of X tracks, just that one. I know this can be done - Apple gave away cards with the iTunes Live gigs, and the only tracks you could buy were from the iTunes Live sessions. But why not allow artists to sell them too? That way it's secure as one use codes are already done in iTunes. The artists don't need to setup their own downloads site, and customers can get music without the annoying plastic nonsense. Plus the artist doesn't have to pay to have CD's pressed, artwork printed etc. Win all around.

Some of the best music we have found recently has been from opening acts - Ane Brun (opened for Peter Gabriel) and For a Minor Reflection (Sigur Ros) really come to mind - or were only for sale at the gig (Underworld, live, on my birthday!). But the CD media is in need of an update.

Might be a market there..... Anyone know if this is being done already?