I bought a few downloadable music files the other day, and the experience reminded me of one of the baffling aspects of the digital-music controversy. Why is it that, when the format(s) for digital music files are now well-established, music sellers don’t take full advantage of the medium? Why (for instance) do some sell files without full documentation and cover art? Why do no distributors (that I know of) include lyrics with the digital file? It’s not as though these can’t be tracked down elsewhere, and by including them in an authorized digital package the vendor would be differentiating their product from blank, inaccurately-documented files found on the dark net (or on less robust services), or ripped at home from one’s own media?
But instead, the vendors seem content casually to rip files from whatever medium is at hand, slap uncertain ID3 tags on them (track numbers as part of the selection’s title?!), and upload them for sale. Big whoop; what’s the difference between those and the tracks someone could find on a peer-to-peer server somewhere? A digital vendor who wants to lay claim to the marketplace should make the track available in a variety of bitrates, and should include full cover art (any pertinent art files), full documentation of musicians (where available), documentation of the publication and version history of the track in question, and embedded lyrics. Now, that’s a file worth paying for!