Where to buy your tango music

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013 by Richard Slade


I buy a lot of tango music. Not as much as some, but still a lot. It wasn’t always so easy to get hold of and it’s tricky to know where to look if you’re just starting to buy more or are wondering where you can get the best deals on tango CDs and digital downloads.

 

So, this is my basic guide on buying tango music. It’s by no means complete and you might well have some different experiences and suggestions of where to get your tracks from. Remember too that this is written from my perspective, living in the UK. Some of these options may be unavailable to you, or more or less expensive where you live.

 

Milonga.co.uk

 

Run by UK tango music expert, teacher and DJ Michael Lavocah, Milonga.co.uk is a site for those new to tango music as well as those with larger collections. Michael sells CDs via the site which is also packed with honest advice, insights into the orchestras and tips on what one should and shouldn’t buy. Track listings are corrected too and Michael offers a real quality service. Prices are fair and many opt for becoming a club member. This allows you to choose from one of a selection of CDs each month (or another CD of your choice depending on stock and price) for £9 a month including postage.

Michael also sells his excellent book : Tango Stories : Musical Secrets which was reviewed on Tango Hub a while back.

 

Advantages

  1. Good selection of the most popular (and some obscure) labels
  2. Fun to choose a new CD each month for club members
  3. Fair pricing
  4. Good additional information on track quality and orchestras

 

Disadvantages

  1. CDs only. No downloads. 
  2. Sometimes you may find the same CDs cheaper on Amazon or Ebay

 

Links and info

www.milonga.co.uk

 

 Spotify and iTunes

 

There is actually quite an amazing amount of tango music that has now become available via iTunes and Spotify. Spotify especially is an excellent way to listen to lots of tango music for free on a desktop or laptop computer.  To get the mobile service requires a £9.99 a month fee, which if you only use for tango music, you might as well spend your £9 a month on a CD. Personally I like to have a physical copy of the music as well as a digital format, but perhaps that’s a generational thing. Mp3 bitrate is good though at 320kbps

 

Look for the “Roots Of Tango” series on Spotify. Lots has been released from all the most popular orchestras (and some more obscure ones too). The quality isn’t too shabby on most of the recordings too.

 

Spotify has now removed the ability to purchase and download tracks for the time being, and is now purely a streaming service.

 

Advantages

  1. Great selection of tango music that you can listen to, for free online.
  2. Per track downloads on iTunes
  3. Fair quality
  4. Cheap if you want to buy the odd track
  5. Streaming service on Spotify

 

Disadvantages

  1. Not a good enough collection for the serious collector
  2. Download / Streaming only
  3. Can sometimes find better quality recordings on some CDs

 

Links and info

www.spotify.com

 

Buenos Aires Tango Club

 

Now we start getting to the sections for people that are more serious about buying tango music. BATC is a non-profit, civil entity in Argentina. The items you might want to look at buying directly from BATC are the BATC Serie (the series / collections). Many of these are direct album replacements for the more expensive Japanese A.M.P and CTA. There’s an excellent range of tango available, some of which has not been published on the major labels. Quality is variable, especially on the older recordings and the site only sells CDs. The BATC series CDs usually come with a very cheap, vanilla paper cover and the CD looks like it has been home recorded (but don’t let it put you off).

 

The service is not so reliable though and from the UK you can expect to wait (sometimes) weeks for the CDs to arrive. Shipping is also expensive and there is no discount for ordering multiple CDs, so while they look cheap, cost can soon mount.

 

There are other ways though of obtaining BATC CDs which you’ll see later.

 

Advantages

  1. Excellent selection of tango music covering all periods 
  2. For collectors or enthusiasts

 

Disadvantages

  1. Expensive shipping
  2. Unreliable service
  3. CDs only
  4. Cheap looking CDs and covers

 

Links and info

www.buenosairestangoclub.com

 

Terra Melodica

 

Terra Melodica is a German website specialising in all types of Latin music. There’s a great selection of tango music to buy as CDs, including many of the BATC series CDs that I mentioned above. Terra Melodica is, as you would expect from our German friends, a very reliable service. The CDs cost more than they do direct from BATC, but with the shipping it works out pretty much the same, and you get a discount for ordering multiple items over a certain number.

Even though this service sells CDs, every single tango CD has been digitized so you are able to listen to a preview before buying. This additional service takes the worry out for me. I know what quality the tracks will be before I buy and I know they’ll arrive swiftly too.

 

Terra Melodica does sell the standard labels such as Relquias that you can find from other suppliers,  but in my view, you’re better off buying these from either Milonga.co.uk or Amazon/eBay.

 

Advantages

  1. BATC CDs at fair prices
  2. Listen to preview before buying
  3. Reliable service
  4. Excellent selection

 

Disadvantages

  1. Download only
  2. Standard labels are cheaper if bought in the UK

 

Links and info

www.terra-melodica.de

 

Tango-DJ.at

 

Run by tango music collector and DJ Bernhard Gehberger, his online shop Tango-DJ.at says a lot from the name. This is where many DJs buy exclusive Japanese label tango music from. Bernhard has amazing access to the CTA and A.M.P collections. These CDs are for the DJ and collector only, unless you really do have money to throw around, but in my view they are often well worth spending the extra money on.

 

CTA and A.M.P CDs often contain a lot of tracks that are not available anywhere else and the difference can be found very often in the quality. Not because they have been so carefully filtered but for the opposite reason. These CDs have been very carefully transferred but with little or no filtering, so you are really getting something as close to the best original that exists as possible.

 

The difference though will be noticed by your bank manager. A.M.P and CTA CDs range from 40 – 52 Euros each, plus shipping. Saying that, I think this is sometimes a small price to pay for the material. Especially as some of them are the first and only release of some tracks. Bernhard is also very reliable and will give honest and professional advice when asked. For example, all CDs that Bernhard offers are personally reviewed, cross-listened-to against his collection in order to verify/correct the track listing. Full cover scans of every page are offered.

 

Bernhard also offers the complete tango/folklore catalog of Sondor (Uruguay) which is hard to find as well as the tango offerings from UK label Harlequin and various other labels. Only the Japanese labels tend to be more expensive, and you’ll find some of the Sondor and Harlequin CDs are well worth looking at.

 

Advantages

  1. Exclusive Japanese labels with often rare tracks
  2. Excellent service
  3. Original quality
  4. Range of specialist CDs / Aimed at the collector.  

 

Disadvantages

  1. Costly for everyday music buyers

 

Links and info

www.tango-dj.at

 

Tango Tunes

 

Tango Tunes is a fairly new venture by a group of tango enthusiasts and professionals to digitize and preserve tango music. Tracks are carefully transferred and kept as close as possible to the original, but still having the worst of the noise removed.

 

There isn’t yet a huge collection of tracks available, but it’s growing and it’s a great new place to order tango music from. You can also listen to previews here and the prices are fair. Tracks are download only but you can choose from either FLAC or M4A formats.

 

Advantags

  1. Growing selection of good quality tracks
  2. Choice of formats available
  3. Fair price
  4. Listen to previews

 

Disadvantages

  1. Not such a big selection at the moment
  2. Download only

 

Links and info

www.tangotunes.com

 

ToTango V5

 

The ToTango site allows you to buy a serious collection of music that has been digitally restored, all in one go. It’s aimed at the new collector or DJ that needs to get started with a great selection of tango music, quickly.

 

The collection contains 3,218 tangos, 488 vals and 399 milongas that have been restored.  There’s actually a different range of packages available from the most basic

  1. 480 tracks / 24 hours of TTVTTM tandas) at $525
  2. A DJ Starter containing 800 Tangos, 100 Vals, 100 Milongas for $890
  3. A Deluxe edition containing 1,600 Tangos, 200 Vals, 200 Milongas at $1380
  4. And a collector pack – the chicken vindaloo of the collection :  3,218 Tangos    –   488 Vals   –   399 Milongas at $1995

 

Despite the V5 tag, you can sometimes find better quality tracks on some CDs. So if you wish to get the best quality tracks, buying this lot in bulk may not be the best option.

 

Advantages

  1. Quick to get a large collection of tango music
  2. Digitally, and professionally restored so you don’t have to clean any tracks yourself
  3. The larger collection you buy, the cheaper it is

 

Disadvantages

  1. Having to spend large amounts of money in one go
  2. $0.48 – $1.09 per track. Many of these individual tracks might be cheaper elsewhere.

 

Links and info

www.totango.net/totango5.html

 

So, that’s my basic guide to buying tango music. Hope that it is of some use!

Richard






  • Anders Båtstrand

    Nice post! Just two questions:

    BATC – when was the latest you received anything from them? I ordered a bunch of discs this easter, and has not gotten as much as a reply on my inquiries. And the web-shop status page for the order is either relocated or removed…

    Terra melodica – I did not know about this one, thank you! But do you get properly produced CDs from them, or just the home-made CD-R you get from BATC, with covers from a cheap printer?

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  • Anders Båtstrand

    I would also add:

    Ebay – Possible to find a lot of out-of-print discs.
    http://www.easyauctionjapan.com/ – For shopping at Japanese auctions, as they don’t use ebay. A good source of Disco Latina and AMP. They order the discs for you, and then ship to you (disclaimer: I have just started using it, and has not reveiced anything yet).

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  • old_no_7uk

    I have never actually thought of using ebay to buy CDs.. I did once try to find some old 78s to play on my dad’s Gramophone (there is actually an ebay store in Uruguay that specialised in tango 78s) but I think I thought of that more as antique buying than music buying.

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  • Richard Slade

    Hi Anders,

    I’ve stopped using BATC now as they were too unreliable. They also had a problem with the website once and I thought the order had gone through but it hadn’t. I have sometimes waited 10 weeks for CDs from them and I know others have had problems too.

    Terra Melodica is great for the standard ORQ series BATC stuff. The Euro Records though are often home made CD-Rs and printed on a cheap printer/paper.

    Richard

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  • Michael Lavocah

    Richard two comments on BATC. First of all, the CDs *are* home recorded. They are burnt on very low quality Argentine CD-Rs, and I have many which are now unreadable. I recommend any purchaser to rip them immediately to wav/flac. Note as well that if one buys a Euro Records CD direct from BATC, this may well be what you receive in the post.

    I asked BATC if they would sell ORQ discs to me wholesale, and they said no, that they were in some sense “unofficial” – I think this is something to do with licensing/copyright. Terra Melodica’s operation is thus similarly “unofficial”.

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  • Richard Slade

    Thanks Mike. Yes, my experience with a couple of Euro records purchases from Terra and BATC have been that they are home recorded and printed on cheap paper. My first stop for the originals of these is milonga.co.uk you’ll be pleased to know.

    I completely agree about ripping ORQ discs straight to a digital format. I have found Terra very reliable so far though in terms of delivery and customer service when I have contacted them. The CDs have also lasted well so far too.

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  • Fifi

    If you live in Europe, my recommendation would be to buy all BATC CDs from Terra Melodica. BATC is ridiculously unreliable, ridiculously non-responsive and as slow as a snail.

    For commercially-pressed CDs (Tango Collection, Tango Argentino series, RPMs, etc. etc. ) you can sometimes find the CDs a lot cheaper at http://www.importCDs.com.

    If you find the CDs you’re looking for on Amazon, try searching them on importCDs.com. The plus: shipping cost is very affordable. On my last order of 20 CDs, of which 10 are shipped, $1.99 was added to each CD, plus they use DHL for shipping, and not the slow-as-snail delivery company/service.

    All these recommendations don’t get me discount or commission, though.

    And you can almost find alternative sources (on the reliability and pricing side) if you look hard enough for it (or can PM me on FB) 😉

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  • Pingback: Guide To Tango Music Stores | Simba tango

  • Royce Chau

    Have you ever tried http://www.danzaymovimiento.de/ and http://freshsoundrecords.com/? DyM has its own tango label and Fresh Sound Records sells Blue Moon & El Bandoneon. I know them for years but I have never tried ordering anything from them. I always wonder ordering from Europe would be cheaper since one based in Germany and one based in Spain.

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  • Chris

    Richard wrote: Spotify and iTunes … Download only

    I think this is incorrect. Spotify does streaming too. In fact, now streaming only – Spotify UK ceased selling downloads some time ago, and shut out the free Downloadify option a few weeks ago.

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  • old_no_7uk

    I think the “Download Only” point was meant to mean downloads as opposed to physical CDs?.. I was actually wondering about the song purchases on spotify; I am a premium member and now use if for all of my music (although admittedly not much Tango music, I leave that to people like Richard :) ) but spent about an hour a few weeks ago trying to work out what the hell they had done with the “purchase this song” button. I’m not one of these “OH MY GOD FACEBOOK HAD CHANGED – I WILL NEVER USE IT AGAIN” type people but it does feel a bit like Spotify was quiet about that one when they pushed whichever update got rid of purchases.

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  • Richard Slade

    Hi Chris,

    Hope you’re well. Streaming for Spotify of course, though perhaps I should have been clear that this was meant as where you can obtain music to buy and keep. I admit though, as I don’t buy my music via Spotify, I wasn’t aware of the change that they had made to turn off music purchasing. This comes as a bit of a surprise to me.

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  • Richard Slade

    Updated the post on 24th May with a little additional info on Tango-dj.at, Milonga.co.uk, Spotify and ToTango V5

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  • chrisjj2

    Richard wrote: “Spotify, I wasn’t aware of the change that they had made to turn off music purchasing. This comes as a bit of a surprise to me

    It was a surprise to Spotify UK too. It told the first users querying the loss on the support forums that this was a temporary service failure. A few days later, it announced the discontinuation when then spread to all its other European territories over the following weeks.

    Spotify is under assault from aggrieved music creators, and operates on a business model that many in the industry judge unsustainable. Tango music bloggers relying on it and already getting readers increasingly reporting “This track is not available in your country” – do note, and Good Luck! :)

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  • Anders Båtstrand

    Just for completeness: I received my order today. So they are still sending, although a bit slow… :-)

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  • Anonymous

    The ToTango collection has one other disadvantage not listed here… it has incredibly bad labeling! Almost all of them are labeled only with an abbreviated orchestra name, a partial title, and a decade. Many don’t have to singer’s name if there is one. There are many errors in the file names. For example, I found one file that was a Lomuto vals, but it was labeled as a Gobi tango! There are several duplicate files that are labeled as different songs. Many files don’t even get the decade correct. Yes, it’s that bad. It took me 6 months of daily effort to research and correctly label everything. He offers discounts to people that “upgrade” when he makes new releases, but having to correct all the labeling again makes it not worth the purchase.

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  • Anonymous

    I would also add CDbaby.com Check it out! It’s a fantastic small company located in Portland, Oregon that
    supports independent musicians, ships CDs worldwide, and let’s you
    download music as well. Most of the money (about 80% of it) actually goes to the musicians who sign up with CD Baby for distribution. It’s a blessing for musicians still recording (alive) today. Very different from spotify where musicians get nothing (well, about 0.002 cents per stream).

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