January 11, 2006 | By Fred von Lohmann

Digital Vinyl: The Opposite of Sony-BMG

There's a new trend underway among indie labels, dubbed "digital vinyl": offering free MP3 downloads for customers who buy albums on vinyl. First Merge Records offered free downloads to those who bought vinyl releases by Clientele and Robert Pollard. Now Saddle Creek Records has announced that they will be doing the same thing for their customers who prefer vinyl, starting with What the Toll Tells, the new record by Two Gallants due in February.

For a variety of reasons, vinyl has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity among music fans (I, for one, can attest that The Decemberists' Picaresque vinyl release sounds better the CD). Unfortunately, music fans who own turntables and iPods find themselves in a bit of a quandary.

Who cares, you say? How many people could that be, you say? Well, smart independent labels aren't asking those questions. Instead, they are trying to make their customers happy, even the vinyl-loving, iPod-equipped ones.

Quite a stark contrast to the likes of EMI and Sony-BMG, whose copy-protected CDs are stopping music fans from getting their CDs into their iPods.

Thank god for independent record labels like Merge and Saddle Creek.

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