What CD Stores are For

A few days ago I, along with several million other people, read Buzzfeed’s 30 Signs You’re Almost 30.

Number 30 is “You have been to a party where at least two of your friends brought their babies”. I had such a party last night at my home.

Number 16 is “There’s an increasing number of musical artists you haven’t even heard of”. I already know this: In essence, I gave up on following new music. In the nineties I had MTV, or more precisely, MTV Europe. Then for a short time I had Pitchfork, but for various reasons I stopped following it, too. I don’t get to listen to radio much, and I never got the hang of that “podcast” thing.

I don’t know almost any new Israeli music either. Almost all the Israeli music I listen to is by artists that started publishing music before 2000. I cannot read articles about new artists on news sites, because the “journalists” who “write” them don’t bother to edit the press releases they get from the PR people.

This morning I was in a CD store to buy the new Girafot album. The store was mostly empty, as I expected. The clerks didn’t even bother to offer me help. A lady asked whether they have “CDs of eighties songs”. The industry is dying.

I found the Girafot album quickly. It had a big sticker saying “buy two albums of Israeli music, get the third one for free”. I started looking at other new Israeli albums and quickly realized that I haven’t heard about any of them.

And then this song started playing in the background:

“Oh, at least I know this one”, I thought. “It’s that wonderful video that I once saw at 2 AM on MTV about 1994, before Romeo + Juliet made it very famous, and immediately loved its video and its chorus.” And I had a plan.

Not much people in the store.

Bored spouse.

Bored clerks.

Bored me, bored and frustrated by inability to follow new music, but still very much in love with the music I loved fifteen years ago.

Towards the end of the first verse I carefully placed the Girafot CD that I held in my hands on the shelf, put down my bag, and casually asked my significant other to hold my sunglasses.

And when the chorus began I started jumping around the aisles. This is the best pop chorus ever; why waste it by just standing there? Not very exciting.

I apologize for not having that filmed. I had less than a minute to prepare, and I wanted it to be a surprise anyway. So use your imagination. Or just start listening to the song, and do the same thing wherever you are.

Best of all, do the same thing in your favorite CD store. If you don’t have a favorite CD store, I am sorry. Do it in your favorite coffee shop, or gym, or something.


Reality – Alone Alone

Assaf Amdursky - Alone Alone together with Karni Postel

Assaf Amdursky – Alone Alone

Together with Karni Postel

Assaf Amdursky is a successful Israeli singer. In the last few months he is doing an intimate solo acoustic tour, which he calls לבד לבד – Alone Alone. For the linguistic-minded readers: Yes – it’s a use of reduplication in Hebrew.

Karni Postel (or maybe Fostel – i’m not sure) is mostly a cello player and also a singer. She is very talented. I once dreamt that we’re making love in a desert.

If you can read Russian, see something very similar at Art. Levedev’s Idioteque.

A Letter to eMusic

eMusic are more or less the good guys of the online digital music business. They are cheap, they sell “good” music – jazz, indie, progressive, avantgarde. They sell high-quality MP3 files and they don’t use CRAP (DRM). They give quite a lot of music for free. All that wasn’t enough for me, though. Still, i really wanted to give them a chance and offered them an opportunity to exploit me. Here’s the letter i sent them:

Hi there,

This “bad feedback” is totally subjective. As the famous break-up line goes, “it’s not you, it’s me”.

You see – i just don’t like to listen to MP3’s. Even if i love the music, i just don’t experience quite the same excitement when i listen to a file on my computer as i do when i listen to a CD or a record or even a magnetic tape.

CD’s, records and tapes are something that i can touch and hold in my hands; MP3’s are just files. I just don’t like them so much. Even if i get them for free, i don’t *enjoy* listening to them.

I downloaded WinAmp and tried your generous free 50 MP3’s offer. I found a lot of great music – Trail of Dead, the Microphones, Stephen Malkmus. The music’s great! And the subscription price is fair! Really! But as i listened to Malkmus’ great “Face The Truth” i wanted to read the CD booklet. But i didn’t have it – i just had a bunch of MP3’s. Even if i would be able to read the whole of the booklet online, i wouldn’t enjoy it half as much as reading a printed one. And no, i don’t want to print one at home – buying good paper and ink would cost me more than buying a CD. And i don’t want to listen to a burned CD. It just disgusts me. I want the original CD and i will probably go to a CD store and buy it. Which is a kind of a rip-off, ‘cuz i already payed for the *music*. Again – it’s not eMusic’s fault; it’s my crazy completism.

But why won’t you make profit out of it? Consider this possibility: I download a whole album on eMusic. If i like it, i can buy a discounted CD at some online CD store. I’d love it! I get access to a lot of good legal music downloads, the record company gets what it wants, eMusic gets subscription fees.

I tried looking for something like it at your website, but couldn’t find it. If there IS something like it and i missed it, please tell me! ‘Cuz if there isn’t, i will, unfortunately, have to cancel my subscription.

Thanks for understanding.

Here’s their reply:


Thank you for contacting eMusic Customer Support.

Thank you for taking the time out for the feedback, I will be sure to pass it onto our content and marketing departments for their information.

If you are using the most current version of turned, there is a feature that automatically adds artwork to your albums if the artwork is available online.

If you do not receive artwork with your downloads, you can import album artwork from our site into turned to ensure that the album artwork will appear when playing songs. Here are the steps:

1. Launch tunes. Make sure you’ve already added your tracks to your tunes library.

2. Make sure you are set to “Browse” mode by clicking the eye on the upper right hand corner.

3. Locate the album you’d like to add artwork to by first locating the artist in the Artist column and then locating the album title in the Album column.

4. Click once to highlight the album title.

5. Locate the appropriate artwork on the eMusic album page. With your left mouse button, select the image and *hold down* your mouse button.

6. Drag the image to the lower-left corner of turned labeled “Drag Album Artwork Here”. (If it says “Now Playing” then click the bar for it to display “Drag Album Artwork here.”)

7. When you see a “+” sign in the window, release your mouse button. The artwork you selected will appear in the window and will now appear for each track of the album you selected.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

eMusic’s MP3s are nowVRR-encoded using the encoder LAME 3.96. Our MP3s are not restricted in any way.

OurVRR-encoding ranges from 32kbs to 320kbs, averaging around 192bpss. A portion (

Please see the following help section article for further information:


The ID3 tags we use are version 1.0 and version 2.3.

We do not currently include the release year in our tags but hopefully should be adding it soon.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance



eMusic Customer Support Team

What’s to say? First, it’s automated. They didn’t really bother to read my letter. They thought that i’m just another stupid American who can’t figure out how to download files. I wanted to give them an opportunity to use my weaknesses and take my money. They didn’t want it.

Furthermore, i’ve got a strong hunch that Carlos isn’t a real person. In the past i received replies from several customer service representatives named Carlos in different organizations. I doubt that it’s a coincidence. Might it be the default name for some CRM bot?

If you happen to be an entrepreneur, please go on and use me. I meant every word of that letter.