Let’s Eat at the Audio Lunchbox

I discovered a cool, new music site today. I was looking around MusicMatch, which had profiled The Distillers album “Coral Fang.” I listened to the songs first on MusicMatch MX radio; some rad punk. So I checked out the band’s homepage where there was a post about The Distillers going digital, with songs for sale over at Audio Lunchbox.

Audo Lunchbox is a legal download site hawking indie music. Lots of it, and stuff you’d buy from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (that means rights protection) or one of those Windows Media Audio outfits like MusicMatch (that also means rights protection). The problem with the rights-protected (a.k.a. digital rights management) stuff isn’t the restriction on playback (three PC cap for most music) but the compatibility. Apple’s music format and WMA aren’t compatible. The songs usually won’t play in the same media player or portable music player. 

Audio Lunchbox sells tunes in 100-percent compatible MP3, and nicely encoded, too. That’s 192kbps Variable Bit Rate (VBR). Apple offers 128kbps AAC (with Fairplay rights protection), Napster 128kbps WMA DRM, and MusicMarch 160kbps WMA DRM. Audio Lunchbox tracks also are available in Q6 Ogg Vorbis format. Best of all, no DRM. I’m sure some folks will fret about file trading. But, heck, I’m betting lots of people will have the attitude, “If I’ve got to pay, so do you” and skip the file sharing sites.

Audio Lunchbox also sells Lunch Cards, which are pre-paid bulk credits for songs; freebee tunes make them a bargain. Normally, music costs the same as the DRM stores, 99 cents a track or $9.99 an album. The selection of indie music is broad, too. Sorry, iTunes or MusicMatch, but this weekend I’m eating somewhere else.

Editor’s Note, Oct. 11, 2014: Sadly, the company no longer exists. Here’s a CNET brief from July 2004.