Photo: Flickr / Gonso†Madrid
A clever new startup called Murfie aims to be the first service to turn all your dusty CDs into digital currency. For $29 a year, Murfie, which launched in Madison, Wisc. last May, converts CDs into a variety of web-friendly formats including FLAC, AAC and MP3.
After signing up online, the company mails you a prepaid UPS label and boxes to send back your goods. Then once your CDs have made their way to Murfie’s warehouse and are logged in its system, you can decide whether or not to shell out 29 cents to “rip” each disc, or send then up to the cloud. Doing this enables you to stream your music through the site or drag and drop the tunes into your portable music player.
Another option Murfie offers is to sell or trade your CDs for prices ranging between $1 and $8—”a fixed bucket,” said founder Matt Younkle, “that doesn’t allow for any gaming of the system like on eBay.” You can sell or trade an album at any time and it’s a quick way to rack up “currency,” which you can use to go shopping on Murfie. That said, the site does restrict selling or trading any CD whose contents have been downloaded as digital files for access offline to protect against copyright infringement. (Although you can still stream them via the site.)
The store offers 20 different genres to choose from, ranging from mainstream duds (Hootie & The Blowfish) to rarefied gems (The Sugarcubes). In this way, Murfie functions like a used CD emporium, but at a much better price point than iTunes, where most albums go for $8.99 or more.
Younkle assured us ripping a CD “won’t mess with its fidelity,” and says the main reason he founded site in 2010 was to “improve people’s music collection.” Specifically, he wants to give musicheads a way to own culture, rather than “rent it” like they do on competing sites such as Spotify. Noting that people have bought 14 billion CDs since the format’s inception in 1983, Younkle says the site “is a way of preserving your investment.”
Though it isn’t everyone, for true music fans looking to clear up their space and discover some old music in the process, the service is worth checking out.
Just for kicks, here’s a list of the 10 most “unloved” albums being sold on the site:
1. Natalie Merchant – Tigerlily
2. Dave Matthews Band – Crash
3. Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View
4. R.E.M. – Monster
5. Norah Jones – Come Away with Me
6. U2 – Achtung Baby
7. R.E.M. – Automatic for the People
8. R.E.M. – Out of Time
9. Green Day – Dookie
10. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill