DRM-free mp3 music in Canada from Universal through Puretracks

First published on August 22, 2007

I’ve stopped buying music for two main reasons:

  • I have a cheapo mp3 player (which rocks) and simply don’t need or want to create waste by buying a CD, then converting the tracks, then letting the physical CD sit idly (it’s better if they never produced the CD in the first place).
    My cheapo mp3 player
  • Existing online music stores in Canada either sell restrictive .wma files or even more restrictive iTunes stuff (which you can strip of restrictions if you do some Google searching, but that’s a hassle too). Just give me the mp3s!

I was very happy to hear that Universal (which is the record label for a ton of artists) announced a business model trial where they are finally letting their music sell as mp3s free of DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions. What does this mean? You can put your music on any mp3 player! Yes, back in the day with CDs and tapes, you could play them in any CD or tape player, but somehow that logic changed.

Of course, the major providers such as Wal-Mart and gBox only work in the US. For Canadians, the only option is Puretracks.

I took the plunge with Puretracks and my experience was very positive, so much so that I might start buying the occasional album or single again. And this doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to start pirating the mp3s I purchase to everybody.

I wanted to download the new Feist album — gotta support Canadian talent, or something. Notice the new mp3 option on the Puretracks website:

New mp3 download option for the Feist album

The checkout process is simple, and the album is cheaper than I would get at a retail store:

The checkout process

The message below scared me, because it made me believe for a second that I was still downloading the restrictive .wma format… I simply assumed that Puretracks hasn’t properly updated its website yet to reflect the fact that it offers mp3s now (luckily that assumption was correct)!

Puretracks incorrect message about downloading .wma instead of .mp3

Because I was using Firefox, I had to use the “alternative” method for downloading, which meant that I downloaded an .exe specifically for downloading my purchase. This was a very simple and fast program:

Puretracks download app

The tracks are encoded at 192kbps, which is the standard good mp3 encoding rate:

mp3 at 192kbps!

Thank you, Universal for seeing the light.

Now when are we going to see a similar business model for movies? Unfortunately, movies are 7 times the file size of albums…


8 Responses to “DRM-free mp3 music in Canada from Universal through Puretracks”

  1. Julia says:

    This sounds really useful! It sucks though not every artist on that site is having the other option. The two I want only have the WMA. I guess I’ll keep checking back!

  2. Nav says:

    I’m not sure that any of Universal’s tracks are DRM-free on Puretracks yet – all I can find are the Canadian indies (all of whom are also on eMusic, which costs like 30cents a track) and some EMI tracks. I think they’re still in the process of getting things worked out.

  3. A. Nonymouse says:

    I hate puretracks. I’ve used them about twice cause I got puretracks cards from EB. The second time I gave up and never got my ten songs. Couldn’t download with Firefox or IE. They also complained that the 10 tracks I selected exceed my 10 track limit – nice, must be some new internet math.

  4. Jason says:

    Also nice to see some people still using old WinAmp!

  5. Luke says:

    Um, what about

  6. Nobody says:

    buy your darned wma, burn to disk and rip to mp3. you endup with mp3 and backup copy on cd.
    been doining it this way since mp3 was invented

  7. sHECKY sTYLES says:

    Maybe I should testify here Peter. I just had a heck of a time downlaoding a WMA of N.E.R.Ds new album from Pure Tracks. Too bad I didn’t see this site before. It is now two days later and I still don’t have the album because of the rights issue. I use it for my MP3 player so from now on it is MP3 format for me.

    Best, Shecky

  8. amazed says:

    Wow , people still burn and re-rip?? Here’s the problem with it..

    Say this is the music as published to a CD.


    Then it gets put into any lossy (compressed) format like WMA, MP3 etc.


    Then you burn this and put it in a different lossyformat you end up with

    B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D B D.

    You might or might not notice this loss the first time, but more people start hearing the difference after 2 or more compressions.

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