You are loved

This phrase has stuck with me since I first heard a story, via James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word, about a man who doubted its sincerity and then found out just what it meant in action.

Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, close each service, from what I understand, with the words “you are loved.” This simple phrase reflects profoundly the heart of God’s relationship with us and sums up the ministry of the Church. It succinctly focuses in on the basic human need to be loved. If we are to reach the world then we are to love them – really love them. As God loves us, we are to love.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Heather Williams’ You Are Loved from her album on iTunes just after her hit single Hallelujah. This is as close to the perfect musical complement to the sentiment we’re likely to get.

How to buy music on iTunes or at your favourite shop

Update 2011-03-12: Added “Don’t buy samplers” rule.
Update 2011-04-24: No longer against iTunes deluxe albums.

A few of my rules for buying music. Some apply to iTunes, some to all music media.

  • Buy full albums. Get to know your artists. Stop listening to what the Man tells you to listen to by only buying singles. The hidden gems sometimes make it all worth it.
  • Start by buying the “best seller” album. Then, buy your way down the list. You’ll likely be pleased up front and then find hidden treasures as you dig deeper. This works best when you don’t really know if you like the artist yet.
  • Don’t buy greatest hits compilations. They never quite include all the real hits which, if you’d done yourself the favour by listening to all their music, you as a real fan would know.
  • Don’t buy deluxe albums. There’s something scammy about iTunes deluxe albums. We complained about the high cost of albums and they finally came down. Now they go back up to get two extra songs?
    • I’m no longer against iTunes deluxe albums completely. I’ve come across a number of deluxe albums recently that are priced well ($9.99). Having said that, I don’t support buying deluxe albums on release as the price is often too high to justify. It’s just another way to bilk you of your money.
  • Don’t buy “iTunes Sessions” albums. iTunes branding is lame. Let’s have artists producing real albums.
  • Don’t buy samplers or “various artists” albums. Inevitably, most of the songs are horrible. I’ve had a few, rare samplers in my day that contained a lot of good stuff, and a whole lot of samplers that were mostly useless. Do yourself a favour: Preview real albums and if you like the sound of it buy it.

O.C. Supertones – Any albums you can get your hands on

Continuing my recent trend of music recommendations, you can’t go wrong with the brilliant rock, ska-infused O.C. Supertones. A while back I picked up all their albums on iTunes, except greatest hits compilations, and stringing these guys together in one giant play-list makes for an epic listen.

Natalie Grant – Love Revolution

I’m surprised to find myself listening to Natalie Grant’s Love Revolution quite a bit. If you’ve heard her previous albums, like I have, and didn’t care too much for their sound, give this one a listen. Natalie’s true voice is unhindered on this album and it’s a beautiful, soaring, powerful voice one just has to listen to in order to appreciate.

Tal & Acacia

Update 2011-01-06: I’ve surprised myself by putting this album on quite a bit recently. The simple, sincere lyrics mixed with a refreshing style really hit a certain sweet spot. Give this one a listen!

Found this two-sister duo, Tal & Acacia, on iTunes recently and was pleasantly surprised to hear a unique mix of styles alongside no-apologies, openly Christian lyrics. I was afraid, at first, that this was yet another teenie-bopper girl group but I have to admit they are good and, from what I gather of their lyrics, they also have depth. Listen to their tunes or check out a live performance that impressed me.

Artificial Limitations will be the Downfall of Clueless Companies

Listen up, big media: Your downfall will come at your hands because of artificial limitations like this. People want your content and are willing to pay for it. You just have to get out of their way.

So, I happened across an artist I heard and looked them up. They’re on iTunes. Great! I go to buy the album and bam! “That artist is not available in the Canadian store.” Listen up, big media: Your downfall will come at your own hands because of artificial limitations like this. People want your content and are willing to pay for it. You just have to get out of their way.

These kinds of artificial limitations on media drive me up the wall. Geographic restrictions, DRM, etc. All they serve to do is annoy real, valuable, paying customers. Where do you think these paying customers are going to go after getting stymied by the source? You betcha. They’re going to go after it all the while avoiding you.  That’s right. No cut for you. You don’t deserve it.

I have no sympathy for you guys when you complain about piracy while preventing legitimate customers from buying your offerings.