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Westerberg on Amazon: an exercise in frustration

Amazon seems to be going out of its way to make it as hard as possible to buy the new Paul Westerberg album.

I'm a Replacements fan. Paul Westerberg's new album, 49:00, sounded intriguing. Like Radiohead and Trent Reznor and others, he's released it as a download first. Unlike these previous experiments, 49:00 is sold as a single album-length track. And while he's not technically giving it away, it costs only $0.49--a bit more than one cent per minute. (Paradoxically, the album is not 49 minutes long, but 43:55. The number refers to his 49th birthday, which occurs on the last day of 2008.)

So I headed over to's MP3 store. The front page has 49:00 as a highlighted selection. But the album download page says this song is available as a "full album only."And you can't download it by clicking on the title. Helpful. After stumbling around a between title pages, I finally figured out the only way to download the album is to click on the button on the upper right that says "Buy MP3 Album with 1-Click." Fine.

Unsatisfied. Not with the album, but with the record store.

Next, Amazon told me I had to download the Amazon MP3 Downloader, a piece of software that automatically adds Amazon downloads to iTunes or the Windows Media Player. So I completed the download, but as part of the installation process, it automatically opened Internet Explorer and sent me through a trial run to download a free Apples in Stereo song--apparently that's how it initializes the first time. Weird: Firefox is my default browser and I downloaded the Downloader in Firefox--but OK, I'm committed.

(Aside: I'm listening to the record now and the song just came up that starts "Everyone's stupid, everyone's stupid....")

So the free song download started in IE. It asked me where I wanted to save the .amz file. I created a new folder called Apples in Stereo within My Music, then opened the .amz file. Finally iTunes launched, and at long last the Apples in Stereo song was added to my library. Although darned if I could find the MP3 in the folder I created, and the .amz file was gone.

Five minutes down, and still no Paul Westerberg album! (What's that about one-click?) So, back to Firefox...only for some reason it says I have to download the Downloader again. I guess it's a cookie thing--the cookie was stored in IE so when I went through Firefox to download the record, Amazon couldn't read the cookie to know I'd already downloaded the Downloader. Whatever. I relaunched IE, found the page for 49:00 again, began the download, saved to a folder, opened the .amz file, and finally--at long last--the song was added to iTunes.

Who at Amazon thought this was a smooth process?

It was totally worth it, by the way. It sounds like the Replacements thrown into a blender and mixed up like a Guided by Voices record.