Until last week, Madison-based company Murfie offered a comprehensive cloud and physical storage solution for music collectors.
Users could send their vinyl and CD collections to the company. Once there, the media would be “ripped” and stored in a lossless digital format that users could access anywhere and anytime on all their devices.
Users could also choose to trade, sell, or purchase music from other subscribers on Murfie. Once those physical exchanges were made, the users’ access to digital files would change, too.
But in an emails to subscribers last Friday, Murfie announced they were ceasing operations.
Preston Austin co-founded Murfie in 2011, and left the company several years ago. He says Murfie appealed to users who wanted to stream music they already bought instead of “renting” that music through a service such as Spotify or Apple Music.
For Austin, the “ultimate joy” of being a user was being able to access your music even when you couldn’t use iTunes or play a physical format.
“Well, some people don’t care at all about that. They just want to get as big a library of music as possible that they can stream, and they’re much happier with something like Spotify or, more recently, Apple Music,” Austin notes.
“But, for me, I really like having the list of albums being the list that I’m familiar with. If I go [to] my Sonos and I say, ‘Hey, alphabetical by artist. I want to see my albums,’ I can scroll through that list and I kind of just know where what I’m looking for is. I’m not using [a] search and discovery interface just to find things [and] it has the album art that I’m familiar with. That’s where Murfie really shined for me and, I think, for a lot of users.”
That common access also allowed users to retain a common library without having to migrate it from computer to computer.
“I have spent no time for almost a decade worrying about, ‘Oh, what do I do about my music when I upgrade my computer? I have a new piece of equipment, how do I play music on it?’ That has largely just not been an issue in my life,” Austin says.
Overall, Murfie sought to address an inevitable problem of physical collecting: eventually, you’re going to run out of space. Now that Murfie has shuttered, Austin fears that issue may reappear.
“So, in 2009 I had a big old box of CDs, and then I built this whole company with a bunch of people and we did all this cool stuff, and now it’s 2019 and I think I’m going to have a big old box of CDs,” he shares.
In the same email sent last Friday, Murfie stated that the “senior debt holders of the company will determine the process by which [subscribers] may retrieve any physical media that [they] have stored.”
A member of Murfie’s board of directors did not return a call for comment by the time of broadcast.