Innovation That Matters

Online marketplace trades old CDs for MP3 downloads


We’ve recently seen plenty of artist-led innovations in the music industry designed to combat dwindling CD sales. DATAROCK’s USB single in a toy figurine and Bluebrain’s location aware album, for example, both make for interesting case studies. Now we see innovation in this area coming not from an artist, but a retailer — in the form of US-based Murfie. Murfie is an online marketplace that converts physical discs into digital downloads. Those wishing to trade on Murfie begin by entering their details to sign up free of charge. Once they have signed up, new members can then request a “Kit”, which consists of a box and packing materials to protect their CDs. Members then send in their old CDs, which, once received by Murfie, can be listed in their online shop. The cost of shipping the CDs is covered by Murfie, and once their online shop is set up members can decide the value of each of their CDs. These albums can then be sold to other members for cash, or traded in for other albums. However, when they are purchased from the Murfie marketplace, or received from a trade, they take the form of a digital download. The original discs and packaging sent in to Murfie are recycled to save them from a landfill at a later date. By sending in the CDs in the first place, however, members are proving that they own a physical copy, making it legal to then create a digital version of the album available for a one-off download by another member. Innovations such as these aren’t unique to the music industry. Regular readers may remember Bookscan, which similarly converted physical books into electronic versions, and we recently came across 100% Video —the Brazillian rental service offering films in digital formats. What sets Murfie apart, however, is the incorporation of a marketplace which allows members to trade, buy, and sell amongst themselves. Is there an opportunity then, to apply the Murfie digital marketplace model to the world of e-books, film and other media? (Related: Swapping marketplacesGreeting cards designed for sharing burned CDs.) Spotted by: Paige Muegenburg



Download PDF