What They Don’t Get

Is my money, evidently. Yesterday I felt the whimsical impulse to listen to the Boomtown Rats’s track “Me and Howard Hughes,” from the Tonic for The Troops album. I looked in the iTunes Music Store — no luck there, just greatest-hits compilations from the Rats. Rhapsody and emusic seemed unwilling even to let me know whether they had what I wanted unless I registered; sorry, I’m not going there. Allofmp3.com and Napster? Only greatest hits (but at least they let me search before I register). Insound would sell me the whole CD for $23.

The punch line is that in the halcyon days of Napster Classic, one can be sure that somebody would have had “Me and Howard Hughes” available for sharing. It’s exactly the kind of selection that online distribution works best for: a relatively obscure track by a marginally popular artist, not worth keeping in stock in a store, not worth manufacturing onto CDs with jewel cases and printed covers, but simple to make available online, for aficionados to buy — unless, of course, no one bothers to make it available commercially.

And I’m still looking for the track of Tom Robinson playing “1967 (Seems So Long Ago)” from the first Secret Policemen’s Ball album. . . .

(wood s lot reminds me that Ani DiFranco seems to get it, which makes me glad I bought her last album the minute it showed up online.)

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