MP3 download coupons really grind my gears


You know what really grinds a vinyl lover’s gears more than anything? MP3 download coupons. Surely folk buying the black stuff aren’t just young hipster kids or those looking to connect with something tangible. A significant portion of vinyl buyers are audiophiles – they buy records for their (supposed) maximal resolution.

And yet record companies insist on endlessly insulting our audiophile sensibilities with MP3 download coupons. I never redeemed one and never will.  I already get the convenience of an MP3’s smaller file size from MOG and Spotify.  Have record companies not heard of FLAC or Apple Lossless? Is bandwidth still prohibitively expensive in 2012? Surely not. Better still, bundle the CD with the vinyl (thank you Built To Spill, thank you Bob Dylan) and let us make our own rips; no 500Mb download required.

Some artists have it down. Sydney’s The Laurels (psychedelic/shoegaze) recently sold vinyl copies of their album Plains via their Bandcamp page. Pay via PayPal and get an IMMEDIATE download in any format of your choosing: MP3, FLAC, ALAC, OGG. Bloody terrific. I’d love to see more of this from other musicians.

What vinyl releases do you know of that come with a lossless download or a CD?  Let me know in the comments below.

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. I actually appreciate it. I don’t have any easy way of digitising my vinyl for playback on my Sansa Clip while cycling or driving.

    • @Arg, I think you missed John’s point, he wasn’t saying that he didn’t appreciate the coupon for a digital download, but was rather railing against the fact that it was for a lossy mp3. Give us a lossless download – we can convert that to whatever format our digital player might need but at least we would have a lossless version.

    • Yeah – I know some people will dig the convenience. I just want lossless. I want I want. Me me me.

  2. John,

    The $40 Rush “Clockwork Angels” double LP came with a coupon for a FLAC version of the album and the Glen Hansard Rhythm and Repose LP came with the CD. Both sound great.

    The new Fiona Apple LP came with a coupon for the MP3 download. Pass.


  3. John,

    The Bobby Womack album, ” The Bravest Man In The Universe” and The XX, “Co-exist” both came with a CD copy.


  4. Couldn’t agree more!
    The new Elbow Definitive Vinyl Box Set – yes I’m a Manc – comes with a hires download of all 7 albums apparently, haven’t got mine delivered yet, £83 plus £3 shipping to China from!!! Good deal if turns out to correct.

  5. John,

    Check out the 10″ clear green vinyl EP “An Introduction To” to by Austin, Texas psychedelic / shoegaze outfit Black Books. It comes with an immediate FLAC download. Based on this one, I can’t wait to hear their full-length debut due in May 2013. Here’s the link:

    It is also on MOG if you wish to preview it there.


  6. I think as MP3 they are just a waste of time. Plenty of albums come with CDs which I find useful. Can play them in the car or take to friends that dont have turntables.

    I am wondering what collectors will think of these in a few years time. Will the lack of that useless slip of paper with a code on it devalue the overall album?

  7. Free lossless downloads are standard with most Bandcamp purchases I believe.

    For each vinyl I buy that doesn’t offer a lossless download, I contact the record label directly and request a FLAC copy of the album. I’ve had mixed results. Many of the smaller labels are more than happy to help out. Sub Pop recently replied and told me that they will be rolling out FLAC downloads in around March of this year. Putting pressure on the labels directly and demanding higher quality is what needs to be done.