A USB key doesn't really lay right in an envelope, you know?
May 15, 2013 5:28 PM   Subscribe

How do I gift a physical representation of an MP3 download?

Mr. Motion's birthday is in on the way and one of his gifts is tickets to see one of his favourite artists live this fall. Because the time between the birthday and the show is so long, I'd also like to give him a copy of this artist's newest album to listen to for now.

I could buy him the physical CD, but that seems like just giving him more work (since he'll have to rip it, then figure out storage for the physical disc -- our household doesn't really have those anymore). I know he'd really prefer to just get it in a digital format right away.

My ideal presentation for this gift would be something like one of those little iTunes Free Song/App cards that you get from Starbucks. There's a code on the back that you enter into iTunes and then it takes you right to the download for the media. I would also be fine with printing out an email with a code on it that he can type in at his leisure, I just want something physical that I can put in a card with the tickets.

So... how do I do this?

1.) Store: I'm ok with iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon MP3 (anywhere where he could eventually download a DRM-free MP3 (or better yet FLAC) version).

2.) Must be able to provide a download code for the specific album. I know I could buy an amazon gift card code for the amount of the current price but I don't like that solution because: the price could go up between now and when he downloads, also it adds extra steps, also gift cards are basically cash, and there is (in my opinion) something decidedly unromantic about giving cash, even if it is intended for a specific thing.

3.) Must be able to print out something with a code on it. I know that through Amazon, I can "give the album as a gift", but unlike with gift cards there seems to be no option to print the code, the only choice is to send an email. I don't want to send him an email, I want to physically hand him a card. I would send the email to myself and then print it for him, but from Amazon's sample email (screenshot), it doesn't look like they email a code with instructions, but rather just a link to click. (there is an order # there -- can anyone confirm that he'd be able to download it from that order number).

So, has anyone given a gift in this way before? I can't be the only tech-happy old-fashioned romantic with a credit card, can I?
posted by sparklemotion to Shopping (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A USB key doesn't really lay right in an envelope, you know?

Au contraire!

I have one of these, and it is so incredibly small and thin.
posted by jeoc at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

What about vinyl? He could just download this himself, you know. It's the thought that counts.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:38 PM on May 15, 2013

Best answer: I believe you can print a gift certificate for an iTunes gift of a specific item. Just click the dropdown arrow next to the price of the album in iTunes and select Give this Album.
posted by acidic at 5:52 PM on May 15, 2013

When I did this I burnt a CD and quietly put the files on his computer then just told him where they were (we have a shared foldeer, I'd just left them in there). We were away from home (and the computer) otherwise I probably would have just printed the album cover and added a note about looking in the shared folder for the files.
posted by shelleycat at 5:56 PM on May 15, 2013

You could also put the downloaded album on an SD Card . It'd fit in an envelope and a cheap one is all you'd need for most albums.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

My partner once got me a really neat USB key shaped like a key with my email address engraved on it in case I lost it. Maybe a cool USB key with the files on it?

Higher quality USB keys have better transfer speeds, and are generally nice to have if he doesn't already.
posted by oranger at 6:04 PM on May 15, 2013

Sort of related to shelleycat... one time I gifted my partner a very special bootleg for Christmas by secretly moving the album to our shared directory and then playing it for him while we ate candy for breakfast. It confused him at first, but it was also the only time I've ever really surprised him.
posted by kendrak at 6:06 PM on May 15, 2013

Put the album audio files in a mysteriously-named password-protected zip file (this is pretty easy to do) on his computer, and refuse to tell him the password (to build suspense, of course). Then when his birthday arrives, give him the concert tickets and a card with the password to the zip file on it.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:10 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

QRlocket.com A digital "locket" sounds interesting
posted by photoexplorer at 6:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

USB mixtape all the way.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2013

Put the USB stick in a ring box of course!
posted by Joh at 6:38 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

This might take some work and time, but how about:

Buy/find/hoark a Walkman. Buy mp3 album and put them on a USB thumb drive. Find tape recorder. Record album onto tape. Make fun labels. Put tape in Walkman. Loop thumb drive onto Walkman strap (most, from what I recall, have one of those small places you can put a loop through). Put whole shebang into box with some headphones/earbuds/etc. so recipient can instantly use the Walkman.

Hard part might be finding a tape deck/recorder to record the mp3s onto tape. Also finding a Walkman. Also the strap part, but I spose that's optional.

Don't forget the batteries!
posted by herrdoktor at 6:39 PM on May 15, 2013

Best answer: For amazon, you could inspect the code of the gift email to find the url that the button goes to. I tried it with a free mp3 and got
How about making it into a QR code, and printing it onto a puzzle?
posted by Sophont at 6:39 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

The point isn't really the download, but the tickets right? You want to give him something to open related to the band he will see? So... why does it have to be put in an envelope? How about a box with, like, a t-shirt of the band or a poster or something + an iTunes gift card so he can download the album? It seems like over complicating this because people don't really gift people downloads in envelopes.

Per one of the above posts, the USB Mixtape sounds cool, but got shitty reviews on Amazon because it's not a tape, but actually just paper that looks like a tape From what they said). Looks like there are a few other USB mixtapes available if you google a bit, i.e. http://www.milktape.com/
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:01 PM on May 15, 2013

I've put a USB key in a cassette case before. Modern day mix tapes.

MOST vinyl comes with a download code now days which is awesome.
posted by Burgatron at 2:43 AM on May 16, 2013

You could put the album on a credit card USB drive - looks like a credit card with a flip out dongle to plug into the computer. And if you get a plain looking one, you could decorate it with a band sticker or something.
posted by youngergirl44 at 7:34 AM on May 16, 2013

My wife bought a weekend trip Groupon as gift for Christmas.

She had the 'gift' email sent to her personal email, printed that, and gave it to me in a card. Then I opened the link or whatever and saw what it was. Pretty neat and straightforward.
posted by Tevin at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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