fight the urge
Corporate music blogging is upon us. Read on, and enter a brave new world.
NPR has created a new feature appropriately titled "Song of the Day." The project seems less a new member of the NPR family, and more a long-lost cousin. Call it This American MP3 Blog. The feature explores songs as auditory special interest stories; each little musical narrative tells us larger truths about our culture, our lives and ourselves. I appreciate the gesture, but it tastes like a bit like health food breakfast cereal, rich in fiber and riboflavin. Sure, it's good for me, and is provides me with the energy I need to get through another day in my active, balanced life, but it’s hardly a reason to jump right out of bed. I read music blogs for the snap of creative, experimental writings, the crackle of breathless excitement, and the effusive joy of writing about pop music. Song of the Day isn't oatmeal, but it sure as hell isn't Sugar-Coated Frosted Sugar Bombs Now With Marshmallows.
URGE sees songs not as feature stories, but instead as the Featured Product of the Week! Conceived by Microsoft and MTV as an alternative to iTunes, URGE offers a monthly service with unlimited downloads for your portable music player or a separate 99-cents-a-track plan. In the first plan, you rent your music collection, and in the second, you own. These corporate players have also recruited some top bloggers to generate content, which will hopefully in turn generate sales. Nothing wrong with helping people learn more about the music they love, and paying off some smart writers in the process. Fluxblog and HoustonSoReal are on-board.
While URGE sounds like a great legal alternative to them wild mp3 blogs, there's a catch. Several, actually. Songs from URGE won't play on your iPod, and the service is flat-out unavailable to Mac users. The songs come as digital rights protected Windows Media files (DRM .WMAs), which makes it tough to share, manipulate, or do any of the things associated with traditional ownership. Bummer, huh?
Instead of fighting iTunes of the corporate battlefield, URGE should focus on the listeners. We got iPods, ok? Many of us would rather buy, own, and love a single album than borrow a million albums from the rich kid up the street, on the strict condition that we return them on Saturday morning or he's teeellllling! Some of us have Macs, and we're really not all that bad. Lastly, while most of us don't really care, a few frenzied people believe that the internet offers the promise of free and universal access to any kind of information. These nerds and idealists take issue with all of your proprietary machinations and wonder why you deliberately worked to exclude some genuine music fans. Where the heck did that urge come from?