Sep 23, 2008

Goodbye CDs? SanDisk Announces MicroSD Albums



Trying to get consumers to once again purchase their music in-stores, SanDisk just announced an initiative called SlotMusic to put entire albums on MicroSD cards. They are backed by all four major music labels and have Wal-Mart and Best Buy in agreement to sell the cards later this year.

Some interesting notes on the new format from an article in the New York Times Blog:

Price: SanDisk won’t say more than that it expects the price at retail to be about the same as a CD. One executive of a major record label told me he expected the albums-on-a-card to sell for $7 to $10. Since Wal-Mart is selling a 1-gigabyte MicroSD card (the size used for SlotMusic) for $15.98 these days, that seems like a fine value. (Yes, you can erase the music and use the storage on the card for something else.)

What’s on the card: The music will be in the form of MP3 files, with no digital rights management restrictions. It will be encoded at 320 kilobytes per second, a higher quality than most download services. The labels also hope to add value to the cards with liner notes, lyrics, videos and other digital goodies. SanDisk is working on adding other enhancements, like songs that can be played a few times but then must be paid for to be unlocked.

Easy to use: If you want to get music onto a cellphone that has a MicroSD slot, sticking one of these cards in the slot is easier than trying to download songs and transfer them to the phone. (Sure, you can download songs over the air, but that will cost you $2 a track, thanks to the labels. And lots of people don’t have data plans on their phones.) If you want to listen to music on your PC or on your iPod, downloading it from iTunes may be easier, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another segment that would find the tangible experience of buying the package in a store to be more attractive (particularly if the price and bonus features made it a better proposition than iTunes).


  1. jawns be

    Max, what was I telling you?! Holy fuck, I need to start wearing special head gear or something, LOL.

  2. joe dub

    i understand times are changing but…………..hell no!!!!!

    pack rats of the world unite………keep filling space!!!!

  3. Chris Plus

    I can’t wait for albums to start coming out on water.

  4. countturrack

    wow. something that small could come in a lot of different kinds of packaging as far as album releases and shit…

  5. IP

    i’ma stick with cd’s until they obsolete..


  6. epic

    i’m not spending more than $1.00 on music from a big lable or store again i don’t care which format.

  7. ceej

    Epic, i don’t think thats the point. I mean if this really is going to be the new new physical format, then even indie labels will be forced to deal with it. I’ve always hated CDs, they get scratched too easily and standard jewel cases are just gross. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of packaging these come in, sounds like it’ll just be a usb adapter with no paper album cover or anything.

  8. That’s funny, we were gonna release Theory of De-Evolution on these things thinking it would be cutting edge…guess not

  9. Balzac

    this is a great idea. i don’t fuck with cd’s anymore anyway. everything is mp3 players, usb keys and portable hard drives.

  10. …and they keep finding ways to make owning and listening to music less and less of a tangible thing. yuck. awful.

  11. ceej

    I used to feel that way… but truth is most modern day vinyl sounds like shit. Music is for listening to, so it should sound good. At least this is more tangible than a download only release. Plus you wouldn’t be completely fucked if your hard drive isn’t backed up. I do miss the big art though, they should package these little cards in 12″ record jackets.

  12. jaybee

    I’ve heard that “vinyl nowadays sounds like shit” argument before. Yes, to some extent that’s true, but yo, if you press up a double LP for a standard 50 min/hour long album, it aint going to sound that bad. I’ll front on mcenroe/ira lee/cj (all the people who I’ve read say that on ugs). Get that shit pressed in Germany if you want quality and if you have a long-ass album, press a double LP, the depth and quality of the sound you get is worth it. Plus the art looks so much better big. Nobody can front on that (unless you don’t care — in which case I don’t want you listening ot my music anyway).

  13. J.Soul

    I like the idea of 320kbps on the card…I also like the fact that it’s DRM free. However, 15 bucks for 1 hit and 14 filler tracks is still severely overpriced. The problem is not the delivery medium, the problem is a broken business model.

    I mean come on…the music industry has now made the “robot voice” of autotune a standard for a pop-hit. That means potentially anyone can jump into a booth, start singing what they think sounds like good singing, and let the computers do the rest… all to the sound of pulsing techno beat. Then they’ll tour the record, the artist will lip-synch the hits and the labels will take in the money.

    I see it as a vain attempt to try to appease the majority who are more than happy to get music for free. Hell, the most popular media player in the world (iPods) don’t even have a memory slot on them… so they’re probably banking that mobile phones will eventually make the iPod obsolete or something. Pretty big gamble.

    Bottom line, the format size is equal to the amount of talent/effort being put into/on the records.

  14. ceej

    Its not just where you get it pressed and how many minutes per side, its the master as well. You gain nothing going from a digital master to an analog format, if you think it sounds better that is all in your head. If you had an analog master tape that would be a different story.

  15. “they’re probably banking that mobile phones will eventually make the iPod obsolete or something. Pretty big gamble.”- J.Soul

    I don’t think that’s a big gamble, it’s basically already happening… especially with the new Embedded SD standard thing that was announced earlier this month, every new phone will have them. Who wants to carry around a dozen little gizmos when one more useful gadget can do it all?

  16. well, if this starts to gain momentum i can see ipods (in a generation or two, cause we all know theres a new version every year) having sd card slots, or at minimum building them into apple computers,,

    i believe there are usb adapters that can do this tho, no?

  17. Ipods are so poorly made anyone who owns one will need to buy one in a year or two anyways, so I can see them just altering the design slightly (probably wouldn’t be too difficult). I actually see alot more people using phones and non-Ipod mp3 players more often anyway (probably because Itunes is the biggest piece of shit program ever invented).

    It is funny though, cause in the end it won’t make people more apt to buy music.

  18. nah man.
    ipods are taking over the world.

    havent you seen the future?

    (ala that simpsons episode)

  19. “Who wants to carry around a dozen little gizmos when one more useful gadget can do it all?”

    – True enough Noyz…but who wants to carry around a dozen little chips smaller than a dime with music on them when something like an iPhone or a Nokia N95 has solid state memory built right into it? Even if you copy the music over to the drive in the phone, now you’re stuck with a 1GB MicroSD card.

    Think about your CD/Cassette/Vinyl collection right now…

    It’s a joke to even consider having THAT many MicroSD card lying around.

    Solid state memory is the future, Apple knows that much.

  20. I would much rather have a thousand of these micro SDs stored in a nice cd-binder equivalent then the huge amount of boxes full of heavy-ass jewel-cases that i’ve slowly been ripping onto my computer over the past couple of years. Right now CDs to me are nothing more than backup copies of what is already on my hardrive.

    I don’t think people would be carrying around pocket-fulls of these little albums. I like the idea more for using them as an easily stored physical backup that you can quickly move from one device to another.

  21. Chris Plus

    ipods suck and apple fuckin sucks

  22. I’ll buy music on any format from wax cylinder to zeros and ones. All I ask is that it be some good shit.
    For now, I’m thankful for my iPod, which drowns out ignorant assholes on the bus.
    To each his own.

  23. jawns be

    yo ceej, a good a/d converter and mastering by a pro helps. The problem is with sub-par masters from the beginning. You’re largely right though, you need to get a straight analog master for vinyl to be “worth it.” Just think though, imagine a large scale EMP from a solar flare, that shit’ll wipe out all your drives and then what will you have? NOTHING!

  24. how much vinyl have you pressed jon B?? Compared to those you’re fronting on? I’m just curious what / how/ and where you’re opinion come from.

    EVERY artist i’ve wroked or released vinyl with will attest to the new school ‘inferiority’ of th pressings.

    Please feel free to correct us if 95 percent of the canadian indie artists that do and have pressed vinyl are wrong.

    ( mcenroe, factor, myself, soso, epic, touch and nato, dfe, nwnb, moka, p and c, etc.

    Maybe i ned to press vinyl through your connects? Who pressed your last vinyl? Can you hook me up?

  25. Chris Plus

    touch and nato havent pressed vinyl and i dont think nwnb did either.

  26. touch and nato have both appeared on pressed vinyl. As well as endangered species i believe through a moka or dfe release.

    i was just referencing those artists as we’ve all appeared or released vinyl and that qualify’s a more ‘experienced’ opinion on releasing it independently in Canada.

    Other MAJOR downfalls : Expense in pressing, MONSTROUS expense in shipping domestically or internationally, poor quality.

    As someone who owns over 5,000 records and counting, it hurts me deeply, deeper than my finger can reach in my bum, that these are the FACTS.

    I apologize for overreacting, i’ve just lost so MUCH money and had so much technical and artistic heartbreaks with the format that created and developed hip hop.

  27. Chaps

    “I apologize for overreacting, i’ve just lost so MUCH money and had so much technical and artistic heartbreaks with the format that created and developed hip hop.”

    Hey Ira, care to expand on the above statement? To my recollection you have been on two 12″ that you did not even release yourself. I believe you contributed money to one of them but I think you are over exagerating your point. Please correct me if I am wrong. Your other points are bang on!

  28. paperkuts, mark of the zebra, the dfe comp, Mc homelessès new release, factor release i believe, upcoming georg korg, i think that,s it off the top of the dome.

    and the die 2 x lp, which you may or may not have heard chaps, was intended to be a double vinyl lp, but the same issues i advocate prevented me, for the same financial, quality, marketing and promotional, and format reasons it was completely non feasible as any kind of ensible investment.

    the point of my rant is that vinyl is suicide as a business move.

    I mean even you use serato chaps…….


  29. my furstrations stem from a production and vocals, and mixing and mastering standpoint. so i get frustrated from all angles.


  30. SKZA

    God I hate mp3 players… mp3 players basically give artists a pass to make shitty albums, since no one listens to actual albums front to back anymore anyways, and just buy the singles from iTunes. Why bother? Ten years from now all songs will be purchased one at a time from the internet and EVERY song will have to have the most generic of “radio single” formulas for the artist to have any hope of making a living off his music. I’m probably the last person still walking around carrying a bulky-ass portable CD Player with giant headphones plugged into it. They’re really trying their hardest to make me start hating music…

    Give me cracked jewel cases, water damaged record covers, I even liked the little cardboard sleeves they used to put cassette tapes in where the corners always curled outwards. Not diggin’ these cards…

  31. jawns be

    ira lee, your website is not ironic, quit being a self-serving douche-bag.

  32. Chaps

    Hey Ira thanks for the clarification homie! I forgot about a couple of those. All good, I see where you are coming from! Peace!

  33. countturrack

    vinyl is impossible to move in my limited (2 release) experience…

  34. i don’t even care that i’m losing money it ain’t about the money. it’s about serving the dj’s and for me it’s about pressing vinyl cause i want to and i know i’m basically pissing the money away but it’s been a dream of mine to have a solo “12 since i started rapping. i’m on 2 of awol one’s vinyls but that don’t cut it. look for Royal-T on vinyl in 2009 and Deepcave group album on vinyl in 2009. fuck it.

  35. i don’t even care that i’m losing money it ain’t about the money. it’s about serving the dj’s and for me it’s about pressing vinyl cause i want to and i know i’m basically pissing the money away but it’s been a dream of mine to have a solo “12 since i started rapping. i’m on 2 of awol one’s vinyls but that don’t cut it. look for Royal-T on vinyl in 2009 and Deepcave group album on vinyl in 2009. fuck it.

    werd the fuck up to that man……

  36. jawns be

    Hey Ira, I wanted to apologize to you for WILDIN’ OUUUT like that, but sometimes internets emotions get the best of us. I think that your internet persona can be really insincere most of the time, but otherwise I have no problem with you. I have a bunch of your albums and during those times when I’m feeling homesick (most of the time), I bust out your material because it reminds me of the prairies. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the only douche bag on this page has been me.

    On another note. CJ, you’re right. An analog master to vinyl is far superior to a digital to vinyl transfer, even with the best converters. You can’t change the fact that digi has an absolute threshold when it comes to modulation, with tape, you’ve got more space to play with. I don’t subscribe to the idea that “vinyl sounds better than cds/mp3s,” because I think it’s false. On top of that, I doubt any of us have sophisticated audiophile setups that would truly show the subtlety of a well-pressed analog plate. I do think that some vinyl has a ‘warmer’ quality to it, but that’s probably nostalgia kicking in. I like the vinyl format for its big artwork, DJ friendliness (I can actually see the spot on the record) and its relative scarcity. Buying a record is more meaningful than purchasing some files from iTunes, plus the latter ain’t tangible.

    Word up Royal T, that’s a good look.

  37. This God of Yours

    I like records. I buy/steal downloadable music that I am either not sure about, or don’t think will have long standing appeal for me. If I really like something though, I often go ou of my way to get the vinyl. Avoiding represses is important. I hope more people press vinyl like Royal-T, in hopes that it will again become an acceptable medium on a larger scale.

  38. I always thought the ‘it sounds better on vinyl’ argument didn’t make sense….isn’t that like saying AM radio sounds better than FM or Digital Cable has a sharper image than HD?

  39. christ plus

    nothing beats playing an old Willie Nelson record on those weird wooden lp cabinets while getting pissed on whiskey

  40. haha My Aunt used to have one of those cabinets, those were trippy.

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