For those whose favorite music CDs are merely collecting dust these days in deference to MP3s, iPods and other techie toys, there's hope on the horizon.
Murfie.com, the brainchild of entrepreneur Matt Younkle, offers users the opportunity to digitize, buy, sell, or trade CDs online, and perhaps earn a little cash to boot.
Younkle, 37, describes his new company as the world's first used music store offering the user the ability to digitally download what is purchased. "Instead of buying music from Apple, for instance, users in the Murfie.com network buy, sell, or trade CDs with real people." Imagine!
Recent successful trades listed on the website include an Eric Clapton CD for Prince, Neil Young for Pink Floyd, and Santana for Christina Aguilera, but music from all genres is available.
Younkle said the idea for Murfie.com came to him after relocating to Chicago and abroad. The hassle of moving a collection of several hundred CDs made him think there had to be a better way.
One day, he was introduced to Preston Austin at a local event, and soon after, the two entrepreneurs co-founded Murfie.com.
Anyone can buy and download music from Murfie, whether or not music is submitted, just as anyone with CDs can use Murfie to sell or trade their music online. Users simply request a free shipping kit on the Murfie website, appropriately sized for their collection. Upon receipt, Murfie catalogs the music and lists it in the customer's collection on Murfie.com. The company warehouses all original CDs in its Capitol Square office.
Unlike iTunes, which Younkle said only allows users a license to listen to music, Murfie.com users actually purchase "real CDs" they can download, sell, or trade. Sellers can either set their own prices for albums, or let the Murfie system recommend a price. Trades are free and immediate, but downloads cost $1 per disc. Murfie.com also charges 30% commission on all sales.
There is no minimum or limit to the number of CDs a person can submit. "To date, the smallest collection we've received is 11 discs," said Younkle, "and the largest is 600 discs." But on average, he said collections run between 75 and 100 discs.
Murfie.com was certified as a Qualified New Business Vendor through the Department of Commerce last fall, and is currently being funded by one (anonymous) Wisconsin investor. With several hundred members and 10,000 CDs in its warehouse, the company is gearing up for exponential growth and looking to turn a profit within 18 months.
"We're hoping for the low-thousands of users by the end of May," said Younkle. "By then, we should have between 50,000 and 100,000 albums."
His objective to collect 100 million CDs would be just a "drop in the bucket" compared to the billions sold in the U.S. "If we can get to that level, Murfie becomes a big player."
Younkle filed for a patent on the Murfie.com business model, which also has a recycling component for unwanted CDs and the jewel cases that they're often kept in. "If I can buy a CD from someone and keep it out of the landfill, I'm happy."
His ultimate goal? "I'd like to rid the world of plastic music CDs."
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