I wish I had a gold medal to award for common sense in technology. Not that there'd be much call for it -- I could probably manage a four-yearly ceremony, like the Olympics -- but today I'd be lighting the flame and polishing my trumpet for the big fanfare. Front and centre, Warp Records, for conspicuous services to online music!
You may not have heard of Warp, whose roster includes Luke Vibert, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Broadcast and so on, but the label's been one of the finest sources of innovative electronic music for a good few years. They've had over a hundred albums out, plus countless EPs, remixes and so on -- and now they've put it all online.
The service, bleep.com, is everything that online music should be. You can browse freely, pick tracks or albums, pay by credit card, and download your booty as very well encoded, un-DRM'd MP3s. That's it. Doesn't matter who you are, where you are or what you want to do with the music -- well, any more than if you're buying on CD -- there's absolutely no messing around. "We don't want to treat our customers like potential criminals" say the label. Tracks cost 99p and albums cost £6.99, which is very reasonable -- considering that these days, I buy an album, slap it on the server and never touch it again. After bandwidth costs, the artists get half the revenue from the service..
It is impossible to explain to the sane exactly why I was speechless with glee as Aphex Twin's ultra-rare EPs Hangable Auto Bulb 1 and 2 came thundering down the broadband, but it is another giant leap for mankind.
It's simple, effective, fast and is exactly what the industry needs. Give us the chance, we said, and we'll buy the stuff online that we can only find illicitly: the extremely positive reaction to bleep.com is a sign that we were right.