Last week, I bought a physical CD for the first time since high school. Now, high school wasn’t as long ago for me as it is for others, but it’s still been a long time.
I was an early convert to iTunes, ripping all my CDs and selling them at a garage sale when Hansen was still on the radio. I was ecstatic when the iTunes Music Store made it easier to buy music and amazed when the iTunes Store on iPhone debuted.
But last week, I wanted to buy the new Jack Johnson En Concert album for my step-mom’s birthday, and I’ve always had a problem with iTunes when it came to gift-giving.
Some of the best presents I ever received were a Winton Marsalis, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Connick Jr., and Benny Goodman CDs from my parents, aunts, and uncles when I started listening to Jazz or the mix CD my sister made specifically for me. Though not that expensive, those presents had a lot of thought put into them and were very personal.
iTunes offers the convenience of emailing gift certificates, but I’ve never been a big fan for holidays. I e-mailed my cousins iTunes cards for Christmas, but the fun of opening presents disappears when there’s no box or envelope to open. So, I buy physical iTunes cards at the grocery store or Target instead, but they are very impersonal, only a step away from cash. Sometimes I’ve included a note to say the card is for a specific album, but that’s awkward.
Last year, iTunes added a Gift This feature to send specific albums, videos, or audiobooks, but you have to e-mail them or print them out. I want iTunes to mail them in a nice envelope for me like they do with gift cards.
What I’d like to see is something like the iTunes Album cards that Starbucks sells. I use Gift This to select an album. iTunes sends a nice envelope for me as a gift and inside is a heavy stock or plastic card with the album’s cover art and the code to redeem the gift. Even better would be if I could create a custom mix with cover art of my choosing.