Hi! There’s an album I’d like to buy online, but I don’t want the physical CD. It’s so much more expensive, plus I don’t keep CDs in my house – everything’s digital or vinyl. The problem is that this particular only available on amazon, and when I try to buy digitally it says they can’t sell the digital album in Australia. Is there any way around this, or at least a good reason why? Thanks, Determined To Be Disc-Free
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This is arguably the one area where the shift from physical to digital music has made life less convenient for consumers. Back when buying music meant buying a circular object of some description, a determined fan could always hunt down an obscure release from overseas. In the digital era, it’s all too common to experience what you’re experiencing: a digital release that’s effectively blocked from purchase in Australia.
In this case, Amazon hasn’t as yet launched digital music sales in Australia, because it hasn’t negotiated digital rights deals with all the relevant labels. Many labels still only have rights for performers in a specific territory, and object if someone else tries to sell music on their turf. This is a nonsensical world view in the digital era, but the hassle persists.
These delays aren’t uncommon, unfortunately; Google only began selling music in Australia in April this year, almost 18 months after it launched in the US. There’s no clear indication of when Amazon might also make the switch, though the fact that it finally started offering apps this year in Australia suggests it does have an interest in markets beyond North America.
Potentially, you can work around the block by setting up a new Amazon account and using a prepaid credit card with a (fake) US address to do so. That’s a lot of hassle, however, especially if you’re not regularly going to be purchasing that way, and it doesn’t always work (Amazon is sometimes fussy about payment methods).
Under the circumstances, I’d bite the bullet, purchase the CD and rip it into MP3 format. If you really don’t want it cluttering your house, you can throw it away afterwards. It’s legal to rip your CDs in Australia; you’re supposed to retain the original material, but I rather doubt the cops are going to bust you if you dispose of it. You’re on rather more slippery ethical ground if you try to resell it, though again this is unlikely to see you prosecuted.
In 30 years, it’s likely that we won’t have regional deals for distributing music, and this is much less likely to be an issue. However, while we’re transitioning business models, this kind of consumer hassle is a fact of life.
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