Murfie Shows Promise as an Online CD Market—With Some Catches

Murfie Shows Promise as an Online CD Market—With Some Catches

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About a week later, I got an e-mail confirming that my package had arrived at Murfie headquarters in Madison (it might have made the trip from Boston even faster, but this was during the height of the Christmas shipping rush). Less than a week after that, Murfie said my CDs had been uploaded to the site.

I logged back into the Murfie site to check out my newly digitized music. The first order of business was to decide whether I wanted to sell any of the discs, which I did. You can put your CDs up for sale by simply clicking a box next to each title, and the site helpfully gives you an idea of the current market for each album. If it’s already being sold by others on Murfie, the price range is listed; if you’re the first one to sell that title, it says so. That was the case on a few of my more obscure albums, which prompted me to name a higher price. Also be aware that you won’t pocket all of the cash, since Murfie takes a 30 percent cut of sales.

As you might expect, there are copyright concerns in this process. If you decide you want to download the digital version of your CD from Murfie, you won’t be able to go back and sell the CD to someone else. This is one area where the real-world version of selling a disc would be more convenient, since there’s nobody at the corner music store making sure you haven’t already saved the ripped version to your hard drive before reselling the physical disc. Murfie is pretty clear about this process, though—if you choose “download” on the Web page, the warning is clear.

This wasn’t a fatal problem for my Murfie account. I wanted to keep some of my albums, but several others hadn’t been listened to for years, and if I could get a few bucks for them I’d be happy (nobody had sent me cash as of publication time). For the ones I wanted to keep, finally getting them digitized meant listening again for the first time in too long. And there are some great deals to be found in the used-CD bin on Murfie’s website.

As a music player application, Murfie could use some work. The player itself is hard to find on the website: you have to click on the button next to an album that says “Delivery Options,” which takes you to a page that lets you download the digital file, get the CD shipped back, or launch the music player.

The player is pretty simple in design, and I don’t mean that in a bad way—especially when we’re talking about a genre dominated by the neverending frustration that is iTunes, which never seems to get easier to use no matter how many times Apple updates it.

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 11.56.46 AM

The Murfie.com Web player.

 

There are some occasional bugs with the player itself. It’s kind of confusing to figure out how to get individual songs to play once you’ve opened an album, and skipping backwards to the beginning of the song isn’t possible by hitting the back-arrow button. But I could see those getting fixed as Murfie improves. The smartphone app player had some of the same bugs, but generally worked well over both Wi-Fi and LTE connections on my iPhone 5.

The sound quality was really good, and although I haven’t listened to every single one of the tracks I uploaded all the way through, I didn’t find any that had skips or blank spots. I actually expected there might be some problems because a couple of the CDs were old and relatively scratched-up from the old days of knocking around in my car during college.

If this startup gets its process smoothed out—especially its dodgy auto-renew annual subscriptions—I’d definitely recommend it to friends. As it stands, I’d say Murfie is good for early adopters who know what to watch out for. And if you’re one of those people with a nagging tower of CDs stashed in a dark corner of the house, $1 per disc is certainly worth the time you’d save over hours of manual file ripping.

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The Author

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com

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  • Daniel Brown

    I use Murfie and I’ve been very impressed. I sent in my whole collection and it’s freed up a significant amount of space in my house while making my music much more accessible. They’ve been very responsive to the few inquiries I’ve sent, and I’ve bought some albums for great prices, especially considering that even a $0.01 album on Amazon is going to cost another $3.99 in shipping.

    Using Murfie solely as a CD ripping service is handy, but it doesn’t cover some of the best parts of the Murfie service. For instance, the album trading feature, or the fact that you can send in all your CDs and listen to them on Murfie’s nice streaming app on your Android phone (or other device) while never giving up the ability to sell your discs.