Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's not February

I generally buy two Christmas CDs a year. Yeah, that's a lot of Christmas music, but I like Christmas music. I also receive a fair number of Christmas CDs as gifts, because people know I like Christmas music.

I've occasionally purchased more than just two CDs, and frankly the convenience of online purchasing a la iTunes hasn't been a good thing in that respect.

Last year's purchases were A Traditional Christmas Carol Collection from The Sixteen and Christmas Carols from York Minster. The year before I purchased Christmas With The Academy and Christmas Songs by Diana Krall, both on iTunes.

This year's purchases are in, and I wanted to share them. First was The Best Carols in the World...Ever!. The title is cheesey, but the content is great. It's a collection of relatively rare (from an American perspective) carols done by a variety of reputable performers: King's College Choir and Medieval Baebes, for example. There are 52 carols in two CDs, which is a decent selection. It was definitely a deal.

The second was Goode Christemas Musicke.

This one is worthy of comment. Goode Christemas Musicke is almost the same concert as Dancing Day: the Dancing Day arrangement by John Rutter. Well, they're not the same: both start with Rutter's Dancing Day, but they follow them with different carols; but there is significant overlap. I think this album is performed slightly better, but the real improvement is in the recording. Where the Dancing Day album had some significant noise issues, this newer recording is impeccably clean.

But perhaps the most interesting thing is that the album is distributed through MagnaTune. MagnaTune is an online music distributor that handles independent musicians. They offer DRM-free recordings, and pay the artists directly. Every track is offered in full as a stream on their website, so you can listen to the entire CD before you buy it, and they let you re-download music you've purchased.

In short, MagnaTune is like an idealistic iTunes.

Perhaps most interestingly, MagnaTune asks you to give away three copies of each CD.

So I purchased Goode Christemas Musicke at MagnaTune and downloaded it in WAV format, CD-quality audio. Then I downloaded the album art and printed out a cover on photo paper. I burned a CD with the WAV files, then converted them to MP3 in iTunes and attached the album art. And now I have both DRM-free MP3 tracks from MagnaTunes and a full-quality CD copy.

All in all, an excellent deal.


Gwen said...

Good advice. It's snowy and dreadful here just now, and some new Christemas musicke might be just the ticket.

Eryn said...

we love christmas music too! i have been subjecting my kids to it for two weeks now. fortunately, they still love it. not exactly the style you are speaking of, but ella's favorite is "i wanna hippopotmus for christmas".

Shan said...

And let's not forget who introduced you to both Magnatune and the Con Brio recording in the first place?

Ah yes. You can thank me later.

Or perhaps now by sending me one of your 'share' emails.

Ames said...

I'm liking these old school Christmas tunes despite my "past" with the Partridge Family.

Gwen said...

* respectful silence about the Partridge Family *

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