7digital – a bit risky

Apparently EMI are now offering their DRM-free MP3s via 7digital, so I thought I’ve give the newly-revamped 7digital site a go. Results were a little mixed, unfortunately.

I found a couple of tracks I wanted which were available as MP3 format, clicked the “purchase” button beside them, and they were added to the “basket” on the right-hand side. Pretty typical stuff, if you’ve used EMusic or iTunes. Then I created an account, chose to pay using Paypal, paid a couple of quid and all was well!

The good stuff:

  • the website works great in Firefox on Linux, and was nice and speedy.

  • the range of music seems pretty good; most of the catalogue is WMA-only unfortunately, but most of the new releases now seem to be coming out with MP3 as an option.

  • it’s very easy to pay by credit card or with Paypal.

There were a couple of glitches, however.

First, it allowed me to buy a file, then not give it to me. My first tester track was the Soulwax remix of ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ by Gossip. I happily added it to my basket, checked out, and paid — then when I got to my ‘Your downloads’ page, I was presented with this:

Gossip – Standing In The Way Of Control (Soulwax Nite Version) / 6:54 / Released 24.06.2007

No download links etc… hmm. A quick check of today’s date reveals that the 24th is a week from now — the track hasn’t been released yet! It seems this isn’t yet “available as a digital release” for some reason, despite the fact that as far as I can tell it’s been out for ages on CD. The only way to spot this in advance of purchase is to look at the “Digital release date” on the album info page and compare with today’s date; there’s no other notification that you’ll be buying a prerelease, and will have to wait to get your digital mitts on what you buy. Grrrr.

OK, next one; my other tester track was the title track from the new White Stripes, Icky Thump. At least this one was available. Now, supposedly we’re getting 320kbps MP3s, right? Not so, it seems — this one was 192kbps, a fact that’s only revealed once you’ve already paid for the tracks. Double grrr…

(it turns out, by the way, that only the “EMI content” is delivered in 320kbps format. I guess the other MP3 labels are sticking with 192kbps.)

So, two for two, both of the test downloads turned out to be wonky in one way or another. A bit disappointing. I hope they’ll improve though — there seems to be a new willingness to offer a decent MP3 music-download service there… and this is still more convenient for me than having to boot up a Windows virtual machine to use the iTunes Music Store.

They could really do with signposting exactly what you’re getting more clearly, though; in particular, being able to search by available format and bitrate would really help.

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  1. Simon
    Posted June 18, 2007 at 13:16 | Permalink

    It’s been available as a digital download for ages on Bleep


  2. Posted June 18, 2007 at 14:05 | Permalink

    well, bleep also lists the release date as 06/2007 there…

    here’s the thing I realised after I spotted this; there’s other copies of that tune around. I think there was a remix album earlier this year, and I think this one is some kind of recut version of the original album, with a couple of additional tracks and an 06/2007 release. Or maybe it’s an official UK cut or something. So that explains why we’re familiar with the track, anyway, even before that cut of the album has been released.

    I forgot about Bleep anyway! I always had it pegged as only for the muso minimal stuff. ;)

  3. Simon
    Posted June 18, 2007 at 14:24 | Permalink

    The perils of using RSS. Anything more than a fortnight ago is ages :)


    is worth a look. Shares the same back-end as Bleep, but has a slightly different selection and a less useful interface :(

  4. Posted June 18, 2007 at 22:11 | Permalink

    The fuckers.

  5. Posted July 4, 2007 at 10:37 | Permalink

    any sign of watermarks?

  6. Posted July 4, 2007 at 11:13 | Permalink

    Antoin — I haven’t a clue. here’s some strings from the file:

    5TALB Icky ThumpTIT2 Icky ThumpTPE1 The White StripesTRCK 1COMM XLTYER 2007TCOP 2007 XL Recordings Ltd under exclusive licence from Third Man Records.WPAY http://www.7digital.comTPUB 2007 XL Recordings Ltd under exclusive licence from Third Man Records. Xing !#&(+-0368;[email protected][^`cfiknpsuxz} :LAME3.97 LAME3.97UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULAME3.97UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU LAME3.97UTAGIcky Thump The White Stripes Icky Thump

    nothing obvious there. Interesting to see they use GPL software to encode it ;)