I remember once saying I would never buy full albums as digital downloads… random singles, yes, but not full projects. I love the physical, tangible experience of going to a music store, buying some newfound treasure from the shelf, taking it to the car, unwrapping the plastic, and slipping it into the CD player. I love looking at the artwork and reading the notes and lyrics and thank yous and credits. That’s really my favorite way to buy music. It’s a full experience.

Then I discovered the wonderful cheap deals on Amazon Mp3.

Oh Amazon, you have brought me to the dark side.

For instance, Coldplay’s Prospekt’s March EP was $.99 the week it came out. Ninety-nine cents. Seriously. That’s eight tracks for the price of one. And those $2.99 new releases? Perfect incentive to take a chance on Snow Patrol or The Killers, two bands I’d long been curious about but never bothered to listen to before.

And now, as 2008 comes to a close, 50 of the year’s releases are 5 bucks each.

I don’t mean to sound like an ad, but… really. This is a hard thing to at least not look at if you’re a music geek. Somehow, it feels a lot easier to take a risk on something that’s 5 dollars or less. Today I splurged on Death Cab for Cutie and M83, even though I haven’t really listened to much of them before. Probably not the best financial practice, but… Merry Christmas to me, I guess.

I think of myself as a bit of a music dork… or at least a lover of a very eclectic mix of sounds. And I will always love CDs and music stores. (and vinyl too… I don’t even own a record player!) Park Ave CDs is one of my favorite places in the world and I proudly wear one of their stickers on my car to show it. Kind of like browsing a bookstore, there will always be something special about buying music that way. But I also like to discover new things for a small investment, so Amazon Mp3 and iTunes can be a godsend. Just download, pop it on a USB drive, burn and go. (it helps on the shelf space too.)

Which begs the question: music and you. Are you a collecter, or happy with whatever’s on the radio? Do you experiment and take risks on artists you don’t know (based on reviews, recommendations, and really awesome cover art), or do you prefer a small selection of what you know you like? Digital or hard copies? Do you even buy music?

And more importantly… is there anything on this 50 albums list I’m missing that I should know about? (please, don’t even mention any of the rap albums :))

Just some thoughts on my mind. Now… off to burn my cheap ear candy for tomorrow’s commute.