April 15, 2013, 4:56 PM — My son, who is 16, was humming a tune to himself the other day as he got ready for school. It took me a minute before I realized what it was: “Happiness is a Warm Gun” by the Beatles.
Now I love the Beatles, but we don’t play a lot of it around the house (my wife is allergic), so I don’t know where he heard it. But it was stuck in his head, and he was about to head over to iTunes to buy it for $1.29 – or worse, spend $2 for a 20-second ringtone snippet -- when I stopped him.
Instead, I went to Murfie.com and bought the entire White Album for $3. Then I played the song on our Sonos box in the family room. It totally ticked off my wife, but that was just a bonus. And then I got to bore him with Beatles trivia until he ran out the door headed for school. (At least he wasn’t late that day.)
The funny thing is, that $3 actually bought me a CD, but one that I never have to touch. Because that’s what Murfie does: It takes your CDs and turns them into MP3s you can listen to on your Sonos system, PC, and now iPhones and iPads with Murfie’s newly launched app. It also lets you buy and swap new and used CDs with other Murfie users. That’s how I found the copy of the White Album for $3.
A few months back I took a big chunk of my CD collection, tossed it into a box, and shipped it off to Murfie’s warehouse in Madison, Wisconsin. Now whenever I want to listen to “Exile on Main Street” or “Dusty in Memphis,” I just dial it up on one of my devices, and Murfie streams it to me. Or I can download the MP3s and carry them around with me on the device of my choosing.
I don’t have to hassle with storing my discs, but if for some reason I change my mind and want to hang onto all that plastic, Murfie will happily send my CDs back to me for a small fee.
My first thought after discovering Murfie was that when the recording companies and the RIAA hear about this, they’re going to have their legal eagles descend upon Murfie from a great height, and that will be that. No more CD streaming, downloading, or swapping. But when I asked Murfie co-founder Matt Younkle about this, he had an answer prepared.
These are my CDs, he assured me. I owned them. Each one was literally ripped by hand by Murfie’s team of minions and stored on the company’s hard drives. So if 100 Murfie members owned a CD of The White Album, that’s how many digital copies they stored on their servers. And if I sold mine, my digital copies would be transferred to someone else. (Which is why if you download an album’s songs you can no longer sell them on Murfie – because that would be cheating.)