Online Custom Compilations

If there ever was a good idea for selling records on the Internet, this is it. While many other sites are taking advantage of the Web’s multimedia aspect to deliver sound and graphic information you might not otherwise get from a mail-order or music-club house, the reality is that there’s nothing new and exciting there… just flashier and a bit more convenient.

CDuctive takes matters a step further by allowing you to custom-build your own discs, track by track. Shopping through the site is easy and intuitive, and you can preview any track with a simple click. Once you’ve selected all your tracks, you can arrange them in a custom order. Name your compilation, enter your credit card information (or use a pay-by-fax method, if you’re unsure about this kooky e-commerce stuff), and in a few days, you can have your finished product blasting out of your stereo and amazing your party guests. They look pretty good, too, with sharp laser printing on a pre-made color insert and tray card.

Price-wise, it’s pretty competitive. The first track is $4.99, with subsequent tracks costing $0.99 — a few are available at no charge, a smart promotional move by the artists and labels. Overall, I got a thirteen track compilation for about $18. Not unreasonable, considering a lot of discs down at your local MegaSeller are already $17, and come loaded with songs you simply don’t care for.

If there’s any drawback to all this, it’s the site’s selection. Still, this seems to be a vanishing problem. At the time of my order, the selection was limited but extremely high in quality, with a definite leaning towards cerebral electronica: Apshodel, IRMA, Ninja Tune and a handful of other, similar labels dominated. Since then, CDuctive seems to have added other high-quality independent labels in other genres, including Bloodshot, Lookout!, Kill Rock Stars, Teen Beat and K Records. Future additions include 4AD, Beggar’s Banquet and Wiija (!). While it may not be “anything you want,” there’s hardly a clinker in the bunch, and even random picks would result in a pretty snazzy compilation.

Besides being an interesting application of technology, CDuctive and other similar sites are leading the way for the future of music retailing. The ramifications of a pay-for-what-you-want philosophy are wide-ranging, but easy to appreciate.

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