99-Cent Snobbery

I am an outspoken proponent of the iTunes Music Store. On the day after Christmas, when the streets are impassable and the malls are intolerable, it's awfully nice to sit down, redeem your gift certificates and buy new music without changing out of your jammies.

And the price is more than reasonable, in my opinion. One song - one personal, portable capsule of emotion - for a measly buck? Goodness me, that's the bargain of the century.

Especially when you compare this to spending fifteen or twenty dollars for an album in a conventional store, then only liking two or three of the songs on the album. Now, for the first time as far as I know, you can just buy those three songs.

But therein lies the problem - the inordinate choosiness you develop upon discovering the vast selection and faultless convenience of instantly downloadable music.

A compilation I made this morning included songs from Franz Ferdinand, Booker T & the MGs, Bishop Allen and Sinead O'Connor - but only one song from each. I never bothered to listen to the whole Franz Ferdinand album, for instance, choosing instead to sample thirty seconds of their most downloaded song, like it, and buy it.

"I haven't got time for you Scottish riffmeisters," I'm essentially saying to them, "Just give me your catchiest number and I'll be on my way."

Now, truth be told, I also purchased and paid for - in contrast to other, less legal filesharing means of procurement, which is a whole other issue - a fine Death Cab for Cutie song by the guy from The Postal Service, which I wouldn't have known if it weren't for the iTunes Music Store.

And there's always a chance I'll like this Franz Ferdinand song enough to ultimately return to the virtual storefront and buy the whole album. But it's not likely.

Instead, I'll probably just continue browsing the racks, plunking down 99 cents at a time, cheaping out on the performers and entirely missing the point of any concept albums, and overlooking any hidden gems I never bothered to discover on what would have been Side 2 of the record, if there really were such things as records anymore.

Oh wait: there *are* still records around. I buy 'em at Goodwill for 79 cents apiece.

Maybe I'm not so snobby after all. Just broke.

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