September 2012

Civil Civic + Bandcamp

A few weeks ago I ventured into something new: I bought an album digitally, as in downloadable files instead of buying the CD. I got my arse kicked, yet also made an interesting discovery.

To prolong the story, it goes back two years when I first heard Civil Civic playing at L’International. Me and a friend had spent the day café-jumping in Paris (between all the cafés with “Metro” in their name) and decided to round it off with a gig. Quite unexpectedly it ended up being one of the best I’ve attended at the venue, so naturally I went home looking for their album. I don’t believe I found it though as they had probably only released singles at the time; instead I saved a link to their MySpace page and prepared some patience.

Back in spring this year I somehow got reminded of them again. I looked on their half-dead MySpace page and found that they have now released a proper album, Rules. I listened to it a few times on Spotify and became convinced that I would keep listening to it, and hence needed to buy the album. Disappointedly, all Amazon could offer was a digital download and not the “hard-copy” CD. Alright, it’s an indie release so it’s what to be expected yet I didn’t want to settle (for the reasons given earlier). I kept looking through-out the summer but without luck.

We’re now a few weeks ago. I figured that I’d been listening so much to it that there was no way around it anymore, and started looking into where to buy it digitally. This of course involved an investigation into who provides the best files. First off, I was happy to learn that iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify all allow you to buy the music free of DRM protection. Next came the quality, and it turned out that Spotify was actually the best option: they would sell it to me (Amazon wouldn’t), they use an open format (iTunes use their own), and provide it in the highest quality. It was slightly more expensive than iTunes but not unreasonable: 99 DKK compared to 79 DKK. As a final resort before committing my sin, I called a friend with the same love for CDs as me. Unfortunately however, he could only pointed me in the direction of HDtracks without luck. I did it and ended up with 10 new files on my computer!

Now, a few days later I stopped by the website of Civil Civic for whatever reason. I had passed it in my search earlier but apparently not looked close enough. For what I found was that for 4 GBP (40 DKK) I could download the music directly from them – and, for 3 GBP extra, they would send me a CD! I ordered it of course.

The point here is that not only did I get what I wanted (the CD), I also got it cheaper than having just the files at Spotify. Furthermore, I suspect that a larger cut went to the band instead of the shareholders – I have later discovered that this might be more relevant than I initially thought: several bands are now refusing to put their albums on Spotify because the cuts they get are too small.

When caught by an act of stupidity, an occasion to rationalise it is sometimes welcomed. And how can that be done in this case? There’s the good old “it’s only the price of two beers” or “most music you buy is very cheap so it equals out”. However I this case I went with “it’s the price of experience!”. Of what? Of learning about Bandcamp, the website through which Civil Civic and numerous other indie bands are selling their music!