iPodmeister Takes Used CDs, DVDs, Gives You iPods

A New York-based company called iPodMeister swaps out new iPods and portable hard drives for used CDs and DVDs, covering shipping costs. The business has been around since 2004, but it’s new to me.

The exchange rate is a little less than a buck per disc — For example, send them 250 discs and you get an 8gb iPod Touch ($200) — which seems generous for CDs and a little less than market value for DVDs, based on what you can get for the discs at used bookstores.

I can’t vouch for the company’s legitimacy, but as long as it’s on the up-and-up it provides a nifty de-cluttering service for lazy packrats (speaking for myself here). I emailed some questions to Kris, the company’s PR guy, and here are his responses:

What do you do with the DVDs and CDs you accept?

In most cases we accept 100% of the items sent to us. We don’t make a big fuss in case 5 CDs out of a collection with 200 or 300 items seem a little more scratched to us than to the customer. There are very few cases where we have problems. Usually the problems are clustered among these a very small number of customers. There will be more than one thing wrong with these problematic collections: scratched … promos … bootlegs … non-working items. Half of the people affected didn’t bother to read the guidelines for eligible items posted on our website. The other half simply wants to take advantage of us, for example by sending us liquidation ware. It happens very rarely that we have to send whole collections back. We pay for the shipping, and insurance in case we don’t accept a collection. Again, this is very rare and happens 2-3 times a year.

Now to the recycling aspect of your question: nothing is thrown away. Over the years, we have developed relationships to other companies that buy everything from us, even loose CDs without cover art and jewel case. We get these CDs because some customers misplace a CD into an incorrect cover, i.e. we end up with a loose CDs without cover art or original case. We export in bulk, different genres to different countries, e.g. classical music is in great demand in Korea and Taiwan. There is even a market for radio edits (CDs that are being sent to radio stations which contain several versions of the same hit track, e.g. just the vocals, just instrumental, call out, etc.). Most of our business is international.

Do you accept Bluray?

Yes, and they count double. We haven’t gotten a lot of Bluray’s so far.

Do multi-disc DVDs (season series, etc.) count as just one DVD?

No, all sets count by the number of physical CDs in the set, e.g. the famous Led Zeppelin boxset counts as four because it has four CDs inside.

Do you accept DVDs in nothing less than boxes of 150? Why?

No, CDs and DVDs can be combined. You can send in 140 CDs and 10 DVDs for a total of 150 items. We require at least 150 items in one box because shipping costs have not only a weight component but also a per-package price.

What happens if you don’t accept certain discs due to scratches or incomplete packaging?

We recycle them but we can not return them to the customer. In most cases (see above) the customer won’t even know that we can only use 145 of the 150 items sent to us.

Can customers send in partial orders (for instance, 150 DVDs as a down payment of 300 for an iPod Touch), then send more in later to pay it off, then get the iPod? Or do they need to send everything at one time?

We haven’t done this because it causes too much confusion. Picture our warehouse: every day we get dozens of different shaped boxes. It’s difficult enough to match the different boxes and to keep track of each customer.

What happens if someone sends in a box that has less than 150 DVDs or CDs?
Every customer has the option of substituting cash for up to 50 missing items at a rate of $1/item. Example: if you have 117 items but want an iPod that requires 150 items, you would simply include a check for $33 made out to ‘iPodMeister” together with your shipment. We couldn’t help you if you only had 95 items because you would then have to substitute more items than allowed (maximum = 50). Bottom line about paying cash instead of sending CDs: we are not in the business of selling iPods. We just want to give people a chance to participate in the trade who are a couple of items short.

Our CDs-for-iPod barter is so attractive for most folks because they are recycling old CDs and DVDs they don’t longer use and are getting a brand new iPod without paying for it in cash.

iPods and iPhones are the hot gadgets of the moment and great Xmas gifts. iPodMeister offers an opportunity to give a great gift without having to come up with purchase price in cash.

Has anyone used iPodmeister before? Let me know if there are any Cash4Gold-like horror stories before I send them a box with all the DVDs and CDs I bought that seemed like a great idea at the time.

(Photo: iwantamonkey)


Edit Your Comment

  1. pop top says:

    Spray paint the discs gold before you send them if you’re worried.

  2. Jimmy-James says:

    Of course, this is a copyright violation.

    You sell them your CD/DVD, but they make a copy of them and give the content back to you.

    You sold your license to the music when you sold them your physical disc. What makes you think you can sell your CDs for an iPod that contains them all?

    • PipeRifle says:

      @Jimmy-James: Nowhere in the article does it say that they give you back an iPod with your music on it. It’s just an iPod, presumably new in the packaging.

      I’d confirm this on the iPodMeister site but it doesn’t seem to be loading right now.

    • MrMan09 says:

      @Jimmy-James: Color me confused, where did you get this idea?

      They take your old media give you a credit towards a new ipod/hard drive. No where do I see them offering to prefill your new ipod with what you sent them.

    • RPHP says:

      @Jimmy-James: As the others have said I think you misunderstand what is going on here. You seem to get a new iPod with no music on it not an iPod with all the music that you sent in on it.

      • Jimmy-James says:


        I got the idea by actually looking at their site. They clearly offer digitizing where they will load the iPod with the cds you sent them.

        They even have a whole page on their site about it:
        [ipodmeister.com] Although it seems to be down now.

        • RPHP says:

          @Jimmy-James: Then that does seem a bit sketchy.

        • zentex says:

          @Jimmy-James: seems you sir, are correct.

          Google Cache: []

        • ben says:

          @Jimmy-James: Actually, you apparently still get an unopened iPod. If you choose the digitizing option, they give you a DVD with your CD tracks ripped to it. Same concept though. I’m not sure how they think that’s at all legal.

        • MrMan09 says:

          @Jimmy-James: My bad I didn’t look far enough into this. What I did find hitting up google and such was several people questioning the legality and one gentleman who actually called the RIAA and asked them. They referred him to their website, which did not answer the question. He asked them again and they suggested he talk to a lawyer. He did. The lawyer made some interesting observations about fair use, and pointed out that its not been fully defined. It seems they have been around for a while, and I would have expected the RIAA to be jumping up and down to squash them. If they were just ripping your music and returning your MP3’s and CD’s to you it would seem clear and legal. (yes we know the RIAA hates format shifting but its legal.) The preloading service then raises questions I don’t think anyone has considered yet. Its like the RIAA spokesman who, when asked about DRM servers being taken offline denying people music they paid for, that they did not have to provide access to what you purchased forever. I guess it depends on your definition of purchase.

          I think if anyone from the RIAA took the time to look this over, they would have a field day with it. The otherside of that coin is, they made their money from the original sale and don’t care anymore. Or the court case would force the issue and it might not work out in their favor.

          But it does seem very odd that this service seems to be chugging along just under the radar, even with people trying to draw attention to it.

          • billy says:

            @MrMan09: The lawyer is correct that there *might* be fair use involved, and he’s also right that it hasn’t been fully defined. This is probably OK with the RIAA because the last thing they want is a court saying “doing XYZ is perfectly within the bounds of fair use.” The RIAA website hedges their statements about the law with a lot of “probaly”s and “usually”s. In the meantime, it’s smarter for them to test the water cautiously and settle as many cases as they can without shoehorning themselves into definitive caselaw.

            The RIAA spokesman is also correct about the DRM servers. Those types of servers are governed by the licensing agreements between the providers and the users. Copyright, in and of itself, doesn’t really factor in to how those agreements are executed. The word “purchase” is defined by the agreements, not the RIAA.

            • Jimmy-James says:


              Selling your CDs to someone, and keeping a copy of the music is not at all covered under fair use.

              Selling your CDs to someone and having them send you a copy of them is even less fair use, and clearly a copyright violation.

              • billy says:

                @Jimmy-James: I’m not arguing that it is or is not. I’m arguing that the boundaries of Fair Use have not been tested for these scenarios (which is true).

              • ChemicallyInert says:

                @Jimmy-James: Are you a lawyer? Cause people with law degrees tend to be much more hesitant to throw about words like “clearly” so casually- unless they’ve been retained.

    • floraposte says:

      @Jimmy-James: Do they give the content back to you? We’ve Slashdotted the website so I can’t get in, but there’s no indication of that above.

      • Dunkelzahn says:


        Agreed. What if there was a fire, and the only thing that you had was your digital backup? Isn’t that the whole idea behind backing up your various CDs/DVDs?

        Very faulty logic.

    • korybing says:

      @Jimmy-James: So what happens when you have put your whole CD collection on your ipod and decide that you need to free up space in your apartment and sell all your CDs. Does that make all the music on your iPod magically illegal? This is something I should know more about.

  3. remington870_20ga says:

    there is a similar company that’s been around longer. Its called milleniummusic.com

    • Narockstar says:

      @remington870_20ga: I got an iPod through Millenium a few years ago. It wasn’t as easy as they claimed. I was moving and did not want to take my old disks with me, so I boxed them up and sent them off. They took about half of them at “half price” and a quarter at “full price” and the other quarter they said were damaged. Still, it only cost me about $70 to get a new iPod, back when they were selling for like $350, I think.

  4. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    …and remember that if you’ve burned all your CDs/DVD to digital files, selling/trading/throwing away the original item means you no longer own that product, in any form…so it’s illegal to retain your digital copies.

    Just sayin’. Keep your disks.

    • rhys1882 says:

      @YouDidWhatNow?: It’s illegal to burn your discs regardless of whether you keep the physical disk. The idea that you are allowed to burn a disc, even just for your own personal use, as long as you own the original is a fallacy promulgated by people who favor less restrictions on digital media distribution. They *WISH* that was the law. But it is not. That being said, I agree with the other responses that unless you are sharing that ripped media on a file-sharing service, or selling copies on the corner, you aren’t going to get caught.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @rhys1882: Well okay. Tough cookies to the RIAA. I’m burning my discs because when asswipes broke into my car, all they got were the copies of my CDs, and not the actual ones. Easy enough to make them again and I don’t have to replace anything.

        Hope they enjoyed the Sweeney Todd!

      • pop top says:

        @rhys1882: Don’t you have that reversed? Doesn’t RIAA wish that there was a law stating that you can’t make digital copies of your legally-bought music? AFAIK there is no such law explicitly stating that you can’t. If there is, I’d like to see it.

        • RPHP says:

          @squinko: 17 USC Section 106 spells out the different rights a copyright owner has in their work. One of those rights is the right to make copies of said work. Just because you buy one copy of the work (a CD) does not mean you have the right to make a copy of that copy (the rip to your computer). Only the underlying copyright holder has such a right.

          I don’t think the issue is 100% black and white because you may have an argument that you have the right to make a back up copy – though that is a different discussion. The answer to your question of the law that prevents you from making copies of other people’s works (even if you already own a copy) is 17 USC 106.

      • srh says:

        @rhys1882: That is an unconventional interpretation of the law.

      • tubedogg says:

        @rhys1882: I’m assuming by “burn your discs” you actually mean digitize or rip, as that’s what YouDidWhatNow was talking about. That said, in either case, you are wrong. (Not to mention that this has nothing to do with “people who favor less restrictions on digital media distribution.” You ripping a CD has nothing to do with “digital media distribution” unless you are distributing it, which *does* fall afoul of copyright law.)

        You may be familiar with a little case called Sony v Betamax, in which the Supreme Court of the US determined that time-shifting was legal. Additionally there was a 1999 case, RIAA v Diamond Multimedia, in which it was decided that format-shifting (such as ripping a CD to a computer) was also legal. Between these two decisions, and statements by RIAA counsel stating that ripping for personal use is OK (not that they write the laws, but given they are the ones who would come after you, if they go that far I’m willing to put stock in it), I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you are flat-out wrong.

        As far as backup copies, in other words copying a CD you own onto a recordable CD, while there’s no specific case law I can cite off the top of my head, it is historically considered fair use to make backup copies. Of course the DMCA prohibits you from circumventing technological restrictions (i.e. DRM) to do so, so DVDs and copy-protected CDs are out, but regular CDs, tapes, vinyl, etc. are all fair game (no pun intended).

        • pop top says:

          @RPHP: I’m just going to point out tubedogg‘s post re: the legality of the issue.

        • RPHP says:

          @tubedogg: I agree with you and I thank you for actually explaining what is going on. I hate when people are just like – it has to be legal and do not know what the underlying rationale is. Though making copies of work is usually within the exclusive rights of the copyright owner in a case such as this fair use applies and therefore it is allowed.

          The only thing I will say is rhys would have a better argument if one was buying the CDs ripping them and then reselling them. It is one thing to “space shift” as Diamond Multimedia bring down – it is another thing to resell the music and still keep a copy of it for yourself which would seem to fall outside of what Diamond Media brought down.

        • billy says:

          @tubedogg: Actually, I take issue with your explanation here. Your use of the Sony Betamax case and the Diamond Multimedia case is overly broad and not on-point.

          First, the Sony Betamax case applies to VCRs and time shifting. No case has ever applied it to CD ripping. CD ripping, I would argue, is not the same as time shifting anyway (the RIO changes it to “space shift”). Moreover, several cases make it clear that the Sony Betamax case has not been extended to include things like P2P sharing. My point is that Sony Betamax by itself does not bless CD ripping.

          Second, RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, as well, does not address format shifting such as ripping a CD to a computer. I understand that realistically, the usual way that a song gets to a player is via ripping a CD, but the Diamond court conspicuously does not address this aspect of use. It used the Sony case to address say that it’s OK to space-shift those files that already reside on a user’s hard drive, but it never addresses the legality of how those files might have gotten there (ie ripping). My point is that the Diamond Multimedia case does not AT ALL determine that ripping a CD to a computer is legal. It’s really not even what that case is about. There is language there that might help with a subsequent case about ripping, but it’s not developed right now.

          To be sure, the Audio Home Recording Act attempted to legislate Fair Use into CD ripping, but the Act famously excluded safe harbor for home computers and hard drives. This is, however, how most people rip CDs now. My point is that there is no legislation and no case on point that specifically allows for CD ripping in any capacity. The big “except” is a Fair Use defense, if you can articulate one. In all likelihood, ripping for personal use is OK per Fair Use, but there aren’t really any cases directly on point with this. That’s the reason why there’s no specific case law that you could cite off the top of your head to justify your statement.

      • jaya9581 says:

        @rhys1882: I don’t really care enough to look into your statements, but this argument came to mind: If it were truly illegal to copy your own, legally-owned CDs, why would software such as that for the iPod have this feature built right into it? I have never purchased a song on iTunes: Every song on my iPod comes straight from my own CD collection, each CD put in the drive, burned to the computer, and synced to my iPod. If what you’re saying is true, that’s illegal. The argument doesn’t hold water.

        Someone alert the RIAA so they will shut Apple down!

        • billy says:

          @jaya9581: The answer is found in the Sony Betamax case (re: legality of non-infringing uses), the Diamond Rio case (the first case to talk about mp3 players), and a couple other places.

          The bottom line is that Apple is safe, even if its customers violate copyright with their device.

      • Jimmy-James says:


        This is not true. You can rip your own discs to your own devices for your own use. As long as YOU do it.

        What is a violation is getting a rip from someone else, even though you have the disc.

        You can’t download Elton John’s Greatest Hits from bittorrent, even if you have the CD sitting on your shelf. But you CAN rip it yourself.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:


        That is incorrect. IANAL and I can’t quote the exact Psalm for you, but I’ve read it enough times…

        Basically you are allowed to make a copy for your own personal use. Period.

        At the same time, while it is legal to make a copy for your own use, it became illegal to circumvent any DRM infections to do so. Which, obviously, are two laws that are diametrically opposed – hooray for lobbyists.

        At the very least, you can burn .mp3s from your own legally purchased CDs completely legally, so long as you don’t do so to a DRM-infected disk. The proper thing to do with a DRM-infected disk is to refuse to buy it in the first place.

  5. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Interesting. I probably have between 150-250 CDs in varying conditions, but at least a third of them are promos from working in the record store. Plus I already have a deified iPeener. Not much I could do with another one.

    • Wombatish says:

      @RecordStoreToughGuy_IsBeing(pur)SuedByAMonster: Sell it.

      I fully plan on starting a box of the CDs/DVDs we would normally donate to the library (we’ve moved and our new library doesn’t take them) and if it ever gets even close to 200 or w/e sending it in.

      Yeah, I could -maybe- get a dollar a DVD at a pawnshop or craigslist, but I could also definitely get $300 or w/e for an iPod.

      Plus, SO might randomly decide he wants one. Win-win.

      • savvy999 says:

        @Wombatish: you have to weigh the benefits in this scenario– I write off roughly $8 per CD that I donate to the library; in your bracket, is getting an $8 deduction worth more or less than $1 in cash (or the instantly-devalued ipod equivalent)?

        wish I had an online calculator to show you the math, but personally, I’d rather take the charitable deduction.

        • Wombatish says:

          @savvy999: I don’t itemize, and neither does the SO.

          We’re better off that way, just donate to charity to get rid of something we don’t want and that is nice enough to not just be recycled still. And I just <3 Libraries :D

    • SkuldChan says:

      @RecordStoreToughGuy_IsBeing(pur)SuedByAMonster: Their site says they don’t want promo disks.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        @SkuldChan: Yes I know. I was inferring that because of that, and the fact that I have an iPod, it would not be to my advantage to participate in this program. Although Wombatish is right, and I could just sell it.

    • lmarconi says:


      I’ve never had this many cds/dvds from personal use, but I used to work for a community radio station that always had boxes and boxes of crappy promo and radio only cds. Already suggested that they participate in this to get ipods for station giveaways.

  6. gqcarrick says:

    Seems quite intesting if you have a ton of cds or dvds that you want to get rid of that you already ripped all the music off of.

  7. FatLynn says:

    I just knew someone would want my high school-era collection of show tunes!

  8. Megalomania says:

    Not sure how that’s generous for CDs – they aren’t buying blank CDs, they’re looking for albums. If my collection (such as it is) is any metric, I would have to guess that with 250 CDs you spent far more than the $200.

    • tonberryqueen says:

      @Megalomania: Speaking as a former record store clerk who bought back literally thousands of CDs and DVDs in my job…most items, unless they are either fairly new, popular, or rare, won’t get you all that much money. A lot of CDs do trade for about $1-$4. DVDs do typically get a little bit more, however.

      Another thing to note is that stores simply won’t BUY a lot of things. Either there are tons and tons of used copies already around (like, say, a copy of Jagged Little Pill), or it’s something that simply doesn’t sell, or it’s in crap condition. Most stores also won’t buy something without artwork, which iPodmeister apparently will.

      I sometimes had somebody come in with a bag full of CDs, expecting some giant payout of a few hundred bucks from their largely circa 1998 CDs, and then I proceeded to not buy more than half of what they had and handed out maybe $50. Local stores have to be able to sell what they’ve bought, whereas iPodmeister is doing a lot of bulk and international business.

      Bottom line: if you have a lot of CDs that are either evergreen titles (AC/DC, Zeppelin) or recent releases, all in stellar condition, then, yeah, this service would be a rip-off for you over trading them in to a store. If that’s not that case, it’s probably a better use of your time, and you’re more likely to unload stuff that stores simply won’t buy.

  9. CowboyRob says:

    This sounds too good to be true. Assuming this is on the up-and-up, now how can I get rid of my vinyl, cassettes, and (yes, a few) 8-tracks?

  10. iambeaker says:

    And the site is now down…

  11. Outrun1986 says:

    Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, around here you can buy CD’s at a yard sale for 3 for a dollar, and they don’t move very well either. These are full albums too. I have seen way too many people selling their CD’s for this price or less. Most pawn shops will give you probably less than 25 cents per CD or they just don’t want them because they are overloaded.

  12. dreamking says:

    I can’t confirm this because the site’s been slashdotted, but it sounds to me there are two discrete services going on. The digitizing of your content onto music devices as a service, and then the separate deal of trading in CDs/DVDs for an ipod.

    I could be wrong, but the google cache link doesn’t suggest differently.

  13. bsteimel says:

    I haven’t listed to an actual printed CD in like 5 years. I’m pretty sure i have a couple cd books lying around.

  14. trujunglist says:

    you could also try spun.com. they actually buy CDs and DVDs, and you can use that to buy new stuff you want. or don’t and keep your pile of useless garbage.

  15. edrebber says:

    You’re allowed to make copies of CDs as long as you don’t distribute the copy over the internet or give them to your friends.


  16. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    so, cash4gold4CDs?

  17. boogermike says:

    Nobody replied that they have successfully used this service, which is what the original post asked.

    I am interested in this service (I have a closetful of used CDs, and just want to get rid of them). If this service is in fact on the up and up, I am very interested.

    Please post if this is something you have successfully used, and if your experience was good.

    • BrandonW says:


      I got my email with the packing slips yesterday and I’m sending out the boxes today. Hopefully I’ll be updating this with a happy ending in a couple of weeks.

    • WaldoJeffers says:

      I dropped off my CDs at their warehouse yesterday, but couldn’t stick around while they went through. With any luck, I’ll hear back from them in the next day or two, and will have my iPod before Christmas.

      • EwanG says:

        Please do come back and update. I have a couple of boxes of CDs and DvDs I’d been wondering what to do with, and this SOUNDS like a great solution. But I’d like to make sure it actually works out and doesn’t take six months for turnaround :-)