How to spend an iTunes Gift Card

Wondering how to spend that iTunes gift card you got from Aunt Millie? Here are few suggestions from my latest favorites that you might want to consider.

Here are my suggestions on how to spend an iTunes Gift Card:
1. Look at your own iTunes library for artists that you like but whom you only have one or two songs from.iTunes will show you their whole catalog and which are their most popular tunes. It helps if you rate all the songs in your library – you can do this on your iPod while listening by hitting the center button a couple of times. Then it is easy to search for all top rated songs and scan the list for singletons by an artist.

2. Use iMixes like the one above to find songs others recommend. Searching on a topic in the iMix area of iTunes will yield a broad range of choices. Workout routines, protest songs, lute music? Its all there.

3. Use iTunes Essentials. For 40’s pop, 70’s hard rock, Rolling Stones, or Enya Apple has collected the”best of” genres and artists for your browsing pleasure.

4. Look at your old albums/tapes (fogey alert) that have been mouldering in your garage for 20 years. Which of your favorites would you like to revisit? I often hear things I never expected in old familiar music.

5. Listen to Pandora or other internet Radio stations. They do a good job of creating a custom station just for your ears if you train it properly.

The songs in the iMix above have been on my personal soundtrack for the past couple of months. You can sample them individually or buy the whole mix if you want to live dangerously. My tastes span a broad range – this mix includes hip hop to bluegrass. For me the quality of musicianship on these tracks is arresting – but my ears may be different than yours. That is the beauty of an iMix. I can share some ideas with you but you can (and probably should) ignore most of it.

Most of this music is new to me (although not necessarily new). I find it can be as rewarding to rediscover an older tune as it is to find something new, so I mix it up – Joe Cocker and Fairport Convention made in here based on that. Sometimes older styles are executed well in a modern context – listen to anything by the Steeldrivers to see what I’m talking about there.

When I went to spend my iTunes cards (3 of em – people know me) I relied on the recommendations of Fred Wilson (AVC), Rolling Stone, and i also mined my own library for artists that I liked but who I only had one or two songs from.

Fred’s post was interesting because he remains focused on “the album” which I find irrelevant these days. I’m just not interested in spending $15 bucks to get two or three songs I like. I’d rather rely on sampling songs, recommendation engines, and picking the ones that sound good to me. I’m buying more music than ever these days – and I can justify it because the overall quality of what I’m getting has increased because I’m not stuck with album filler tracks. Frankly I’m surprised that a seasoned venture capitalist with huge stakes in internet ventures is still buy albums. His taste is impeccable – but I used iTunes to find the 1-2 songs per album that appealed to me.

I’m aware that most of this is available in pirated format for free. As someone who has spent the bulk of my working life in industries built around intellectual property (music, software, publishing) I just can’t go there. As an audiophile I also find the quality of the downloads pretty spotty. I’d rather pay the buck, know that the artist is getting something for pleasing me, and get a quality file.

I hope you enjoyed your holiday break (or are still enjoying it). Peace.

More iMixes from Lee

Summer 08

Winter 07-08

Spring 07