Sunday, 14 July 2013

Technology is a wonderful thing

Just when you think you've got a handle on something, something else pops up. 

I'd like to take a moment to applaud Amazon's new Autorip feature. It sounds like a genuinely nice thing to do, somehow; bought a CD? Then you've licensed the music to be accessed from your cloud. No, don't worry about ripping it manually, you can download it now. Yes, yes, wave of the future, all that. 

(As a sidebar, I like to think that music enthusiasts in places without internet connections - and I'm assured these do exist, somewhere - are steadily building up licenses to a cloud player they'll never use because they only get to order from Amazon when they trek towards the wi-fi. Okay, this sidebar kind of broke down halfway through... But I still like to think that When The Internet Comes to Backchoke, Missouri, that people will suddenly find themselves in the possession of clouds of material for CDs long-lost.) 

So today I received an email telling me that Autorip has actually broken the space-time barrier and allows me to access previous purchases via the Cloud. 

This is... Epic. There's not really another word for it. I don't think it's covering every CD, because not every CD is digitised and available and ready for 24-7 - again, internet-dependent - consumption. We reserve the right to refuse service to you by Kinky Friedman, for instance, hasn't popped up. 

It's not the things that haven't popped up that are the problems, though. 

It's the things that were bought as gifts for other people that, sadly, I didn't mark as such. Because I don't think there was a way to mark them as such. 

The Great Machine at Amazon simply looked at my purchase history and said YES, HE SHALL HAVE AS MANY CLOUD CD MP3 ALBUMS AS I MAY GIVE HIM, waved a giant digital magic wand, and lo...

... I now have access to I Dreamed A Dream, by Susan Boyle. 

Katharine Jenkins, by... Well... Katharine Jenkins

Those are the two that stick out. Well, that and On Every Street by Dire Straits, but as that contains the amazing My Parties, that's a difficult one. 

To get something clear; there's nothing wrong with Susan Boyle or Katharine Jenkins. Nothing at all, if you happen to be into that sort of thing, and if you are, enjoy! Go for it. Go nuts. I just don't happen to have a hankering for either. Plus, because of the world we live in, I'm worried about the potential for peer-shaming if I accidentally click on a button somewhere and everyone on Facebook assumes I'm listening to Cry Me A River out of love. 

There's a flip-side to this, as well - there are five or so albums that are real blasts from the past, that this cloud business might prompt a new-found love for after all this time. I mentioned Run in the last post about Glastonbury; now I have access to the special edition of Final Straw whenever I have internet access and a working cloud player. Ditto Franz Ferdinand by... Franz Ferdinand. I haven't heard Take Me Out in years

Plus Jem's 'difficult second album' and KT Tunstall and Crystal Castles... And Dave Greenslade's From the Discworld, which is, apparently, just how I roll. 

I have to be honest; I'm not planning on purchasing CDs unless no other option is available. And for Autorip to be viable, there has to be an MP3 version in the first place. So unless there's some weird economics behind the situation where buying a CD plus postage works out as less than buying the MP3 album - which is a possibility - I'm not sure I'll get epic usage out of Autorip. 

But it seems like a genuinely nice thing to do, somehow. It probably costs Amazon not very much to administrate - I can see the automatic coding behind it, really, trawling purchase histories and comparing them against available albums and sending little internet electronic gremlins to tie a knot between them - but still, it's something that, maybe, should have happened a while ago. 

It's still nice to have access to ... And All The Pieces Matter, though, long after the CD passed away and the digitisation corrupted. 

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