Now's a good time to go back to MP3's
So a few weeks ago I bought some $15 8gb Zunes off eBay on a whim. I figured I could pop 'em open and swap out the batteries and have some nice FM radio/MP3 players for the kids that weren't connected to the internet in any possible way.
Turns out Zune batteries on eBay and Amazon won't work with the flash Zunes due to variations in the hardware. I'm now waiting on some batteries that folks claim are legit. (Always check the subreddit before buying replacement parts for things yall.)
Anyway, as I was working on the little devices (Taking them apart is as intricate as changing the keyboard in a MacBook Air.) I ran into a more serious issue. While the Zunes will work as long as plugged into a computer I couldn't actually connect them to the Zune software to reset them. Microsoft discontinued support and all the firmware links they hosted years ago. Luckily folks have created mirrors to the files.
But here is the deal, the Zune software has to connect to the Microsoft servers to let you make any changes to the device. You can't add music or wipe it or anything unless you can reach those dead links. So, in order to get the Zune ready to use I had to spool up a local web server and host the firmware update files myself, changing my host file data to claim that the Zune website was located on localhost. It hilariously worked.
Now the fun issue is getting my music onto the device. I don't have a folder of mp3's anymore since I've been using Spotify to listen to the same 4 Florence + The Machine albums for the past decade. Right now I have all the physical media – vinyl and cassettes etc, but no mp3's. It's either hard storage or streaming around here. Back in the early 2k's I would have a massive library of virus laden music files like everyone else. Now we rent the music via Spotify/Amazon/Apple subscriptions. While that's good for you know, not stealing music, we know it has poor results for product ownership and revenue sharing for artists.
The indie musicians I follow (Friends from high school, synthwave, bitmetal, etc.) all use Bandcamp for distribution. Not only can I stream the albums I buy there but can also download the MP3/OGG/FLAC files to my computer. Perfect for filling up an 8gb Zune and denying Spotify streaming data.
According to one website I found Soundcharts, I found the following average revenue paid to artists per stream of a song:
- Spotify: $0.0032
- Apple Music: $0.0056
- Google Play Music: $0.0055
Now, let's say I hypothetically listened to Cosmic Love once a day for a year. I've handed Florence Welch the possibility of $1.16. Compare that to me buying $75 in band merchandise and physical album copies every year. Now, these low streaming payouts wouldn't be so bad for a band that can go on tour six months out of the year. But with concerts dead in the water we need to go back to buying the mp3's. Also might be a good time to dig out your dusty old creative Zen player from college or physically move your music to your phone.
Bonus, after getting this typed up last night I found out that Bandcamp is doing another one of their Bandcamp Friday events where they wave their revenue sharing for the day giving all the profits directly to the artists you buy music from. I would highly suggest participating in this on Friday.