The business of selling used MP3s
Carting a crate of used CDs to your local record store so you can make rent is a rite of passage as ancient as it can be tearful. But what about those MP3s and iTunes songs you're ready to unload? Is there a way to sell those off, too, when you get tired of them or just need some extra scratch? A new crop of consumer-facing music stores is focused on helping fans resell "used" digital music the way they do CDs. But the big conundrum with digital music is that there's no way to prove sellers legally own the songs on their computers. There's also nothing to stop them from keeping the songs they're hawking. Unlike CDs — physical products you hand over to a record store clerk — digital files can be replicated ad infinitum with negligible expense. A physical piece of music is simple — sell it to someone, and you no longer have it. The digital marketplace is strikingly different from one where sellers exchange objects for dollars. The common analogy is that the digital file works like a candle: When you light someone else's candle, your own flame isn't extinguished. Figuring out a fair bartering system is one of many issues facing the new retail world of pre-owned digital media. But with traditional revenue streams drying up in the music business, enterprising companies are nonetheless banking on this uncharted industry. Even though they're much dicier propositions than heading to Amoeba, several options are available for selling digital music to fellow fans. These range from the fully licensed to the probably illegal, and they offer benefits in both store credit and cash.