Indie brick-and-mortar record store sells MP3s
The block-long Tower Records store on 4th Street in Manhattan is long gone, but just across the street its tiny competitor, Other Music, is still going strong.
Other Music isn't the sort of place you'd go to pick up the new U2 record; its primary mission is to turn its customers onto, well, other music. Now, some of Other Music's titles are available as MP3 downloads.
The physical and download Other Music stores are an attempt to classify the unclassifiable; there's "In" (indie rock); "Out" (experimental, free jazz, noise, 20th century composers, and early electronic pioneers); "Electronica" (new electronic music including ambient, electro, and underground hip-hop); "Then" (influential artists from the '60s, '70s, and '80s); and "Groove" (classic soul, dub, and rare groove).
The store also stocks unsigned local bands' CDs and a lot of stuff from small labels, rarities, and a generous selection of new indie-oriented vinyl. Too bad you can't download vinyl, but Other Music has a mail-order department.
I recently spoke with Other Music's Josh Madell to learn more about Other Music Digital. First, the download store offers only high-quality 320kbps, DRM-free MP3s. The store has long-term relationships with a ton of indie labels, and that has helped Other Music tackle this sort of venture. I haven't heard of any other indie record store that sells MP3s in significant numbers.
Madell quickly acknowledged that going up against Amazon and iTunes wasn't easy, but Other Music scores occasional exclusives and some stuff appears first as an Other Music MP3 before it comes out on CD.
Looking around the site I found a lot of music I liked, and sure it's also on iTunes, but I wouldn't have found it there. If you like underground, cutting-edge stuff, check out Other Music. Most download albums are $9.99, or $1.11 per track. There's some free downloads too.
Do you know of any indie brick-and-mortar stores that sell MP3s? Please let us know.