Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Swap

  We are living in a time when acquiring new music can often feel like operating under a police state.  Thanks, in part, to Napster, KaZaa, and the Gestapo techniques of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), what we do with the music we purchase can seem scrutinized to the point of feeling Orwellian.

  But over the last year or so, a multitude of websites that facilitate legal peer-to-peer swapping have begun to crop up.  Some charge a nominal fee for their service; others are free to the user, and are supported by unobtrusive advertising along the site’s unused fringe.  Again, the service is completely legal.  Just as GM cannot dictate what you do with your old car, the RIAA has no recourse against the trading of original CDs.

  There are several sites devoted to the bartering of used CDs, and new sites springing up almost daily.  I recently spent a couple days checking them out, and here’s what you need to know about some of the best:  Flipadisc is one of the newest sites devoted to CD-swapping.  Because it’s only a month old, the site is offering free registration and giving away free credits to newcomers, in order to get the ball rolling.  Flipadisc deals in CDs, DVDs, and video games, and operates on a “one-to-one” system.  This means that for each item you trade out, you receive one credit that can be redeemed for anything that any other user has made available.  CDs can be traded for DVDs, DVDs for video games, et cetera.  If another member requests something that you have listed, you just pack it up and send it directly to them.  All you pay is the postage to send it (usually under $3).  After it has been sent, you receive one credit that can be used on any item that other Flipadisc users have made available.  When it’s all said and done, you’ve traded a CD that you’re tired of for something you really want, and it’s only cost you the postage.  Titletrader works exactly like Flipadisc, but also allows users to trade VHS tapes, books and magazines.  It’s basically a one-to-one system, though double-discs are worth 2 credits and box sets are worth one credit per disc.  Imagine trading an old issue of “Rolling Stone” for a CD by the Rolling Stones.  Titletrader can make that happen.  Dealing exclusively in CDs, this is the granddaddy of them all.  Less than two months old, Lala already has over 100,000 members and offers more than 1.8 million CDs, with 30,000 more added daily.  Lala provides the postage-paid mailing envelopes, and charges your credit card $1.75 for every CD you ship—still cheaper than paying the postage yourself.  All you have to do is check the website for requests, drop them in the envelope and run them to the mailbox.  Then surf their enormous collection for the CD you’ve always wanted.  There is also a MySpace-esque networking interface, allowing members to create profile pages and post blogs.  An artist search for DMX brings up 8 CDs, 13 singles, 29 compilations, 24 “members who like DMX the most,” 8 similar CDs, and 20 similar artists.  It’s unbelievable.

  Whatever you’re into, there is sure to be a swapping site that’s tailor-made for your needs, you’ve just gotta explore.  Happy hunting!

-From Pulse
   July 13, 2006