Help me be less evil
September 11, 2009 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as an independent, online music store?

It seems to me that Apple and Amazon have a monopoly on online record sales now. I like to buy straight from the label if possible, but it isn't always (like right now I'm trying to buy the Micachu album but its on a British label and I'm in the US).

Is there any independent, online source for music? I'm imagining the Powell's of records.
posted by serazin to Shopping (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Insound.
posted by yeti at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2009

Best answer: Other Music
posted by Joey Bagels at 9:26 AM on September 11, 2009

Amie Street

(full disclosure: I went to college with some of the guys who work there)
posted by goingonit at 9:26 AM on September 11, 2009

Best answer: cdbaby.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:29 AM on September 11, 2009

Largely electronic, but some other stuff on there too. bleep.
posted by jontyjago at 9:34 AM on September 11, 2009

posted by Ultra Laser at 9:38 AM on September 11, 2009

Best answer: Is the album "Jewellery"? Because that's available on eMusic, but of course eMusic requires a subscription, it's not an a la carte store. Napster is subscription only as well but has a much lower barrier of entry ($5/month minimum subscription). Of course they are a Best Buy company now so "less evil" is, ahem, subjective. Frankly I don't know that I'd consider iTunes or Amazon particularly evil in this context. I'm a member of eMusic and I find it well worth it, even though they jacked the prices pretty hard. They have a HUGE indie catalog and recently signed up for a lot of Sony content, but no other major labels right now. I've never used Napster.

I don't know if there is anything quite like what you are suggesting. There are other services that sell MP3s of course, eMusic being the biggest. Rhapsody does a la carte downloads now, they carry this album as well. I've had good luck using their a la carte store and they sometimes have better deals.

The problem is you have to cut these digital distribution deals with whatever label you want to deal with, as opposed to just telling their distributor "ship me 30 copies" which is a lot less legally fraught. So their are the off-off-brand experiments like Amie Street (no offense, it's an interesting concept but you're quite unlikely to find a specific artist you want to buy there) or CDBaby which does a lot of downloads now, and there are a bunch of others in the same vein, but they tend to have patchy catalogs with smaller, less-well-known bands. It is only very recently that iTunes and Amazon cracked the straight MP3-download, a la carte barrier with the major labels and it is going to take longer for more viable alternatives with really substantial catalogs to get rolling.
posted by nanojath at 9:44 AM on September 11, 2009

You could also try to buy music directly at shows from the artists when possible.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2009

(A parallel topic aside, one thing I've thought is that it would be nice if there were a service that kept track of as many of the off-brand services as possible so you could just search for a particular artist or album and see where all it was available. Then I think, man, I should just code that up, get it rolling, and then I remember that I studied chemistry in college, not computer programming. SIGH. But maybe somebody could get on that, if you do I've got a ton of links of independent MP3 sellers, I was trying to do a blog about it for a while).
posted by nanojath at 9:49 AM on September 11, 2009

Forced Exposure
posted by dubitable at 10:37 AM on September 11, 2009

And Keith Fullerton Whitman's Mimaroglu Music Sales too.
posted by dubitable at 10:38 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Goner Records
Midheaven Mailorder (the retail side of of Revolver, a fairly large indie distributor)
posted by zombiedance at 10:59 AM on September 11, 2009

Also, EAR/Rational, one of the very first, which originally worked via automatic mailing lists and publicity on USENET.
posted by galaksit at 11:11 AM on September 11, 2009

And Norman Records in the UK, run by cheerful, nice people up North. Having run a small label selling directly to them, I can tell you first hand that they are incredibly honest and helpful.
posted by galaksit at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second CDBaby, because they were one of the original online indie CD shops.

Derek started the service with the express purpose of making online sales available to artists that weren't on labels, and they carry a HUGE amount of indie music from the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Awesome company.
posted by Aquaman at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2009

A plug for my pals in Newcastle: Reflex will order anything you are looking for and send it to the US or just about anywhere.

I didn't see Micachu on their site, but they will do special orders -- just ask! Lots of independent record stores in the UK do international mail order now. Reflex sells through Amazon US, for example.
posted by vickyverky at 1:02 PM on September 11, 2009

limited artists, but zunior.
posted by scruss at 3:53 PM on September 11, 2009

Best answer: I got my copy from eMusic, but if you don't wanna subscribe, ThinkIndie has Micachu.
posted by patrick rhett at 6:06 PM on September 11, 2009

For CDs: Plan 9, for mp3s: Think Indie. I've never used either, but I love the slowly dying brick and mortar Plan 9.
posted by hellogoodbye at 6:13 PM on September 11, 2009

Thirding CDBaby, it had a huge first-mover advantage in indie distribution, and my musician friends all use it (and like it.)

In addition Jamendo has a ton of freely downloadable works, and has an extensive collection of live concert recordings, also free to D/L.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:26 PM on September 11, 2009

Another CD Baby fan here.

By "buy directly from the label" you realize that there is still a middleman (or several) between you and the band and that you might be supporting an organization like the RIAA? Which is worse, Apple or the RIAA?

Use the RIAA Radar to find out if the album you want to buy isn't on a RIAA label.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:34 PM on September 11, 2009

2nding galaksit's suggestion; the folks at Norman Records are absolutely amazing.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:44 PM on September 11, 2009

Response by poster: Hi all, thanks so much for the links. I'm bookmarking this page for future ordering. Also, thank you to nanojath for explaining why this is complicated now, and to Brian Puccio for pointing out the RIAA problem.

After checking out all these links (and finding that many don't carry the specific album I'm looking for at the moment), I'm considering joining eMusic.

Does anyone know anything about who they are - or if they're owned by a larger company?

posted by serazin at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2009

Response by poster: I marked "best answer" for the places I thought I'd be most likely to use in terms of what albums they seem to have available and also that they're US based, but thanks for all the answers given
posted by serazin at 12:49 PM on September 12, 2009

Response by poster: I just figured out who owns eMusic.

Off to buy Micachu from Insound! Thanks all!
posted by serazin at 1:06 PM on September 12, 2009

How surreal. I just came across this, and guess which band is featured on the Insound front page: Micachu.
posted by Decimask at 2:48 PM on February 6, 2010

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