The new (legal) music download sites. Which is best?

Has a clear winner emerged among the new legal music download sites? Apple’s site sounds the best from today’s Denver Post article (Google it if you want to read it).

I don’t want to keep buying CDs if they’re quickly becoming obsolete but I have concerns:

[li]If I accidentally erase the song or my hard drive crashes I have no backup.[/li][li]I may know I like one song from an album but want to hear the whole thing once to see if I like other songs or the whole thing.[/li][li]Not all songs are available. It’d be fun to query all songs with a certain musician or producer for example.[/li][/ul]

What are your experiences or impressions?

Limited selection is going to be a problem no matter who you go with, and don’t forget that some artists don’t want their music traded online.

I have the new Napster. I like it. IIRC, Napster says it has 500,000+ songs, and they have a good range of genres. They have a nice, simple search feature that will let you search by artist, album, or song title. They also have a “sync/restore” feature which will re-download your songs if you somehow lose them.

For any service, you should check out how they let you use the songs. Some services are more generous than others.

On Napster, you can download an unlimited number of songs and listen to them all you want, but if you want to keep the song after you cancel the service, then you have to buy it for a dollar. Buying a song also lets you burn it to a CD or put it on an MP3 player. I’m not aware of any feature that lets you buy an entire album en masse, but then again the people who use this kind of service generally don’t want the entire album.

Another nice feature is the “Radio Stations” that play songs according to certain themes: 80’s rock, contemporary, hip hop, metal, classic oldies, love songs, etc. My favorite is the One Hit Wonders station.

(BTW: I was a beta tester for the new Napster! It started as Roxio’s PressPlay service, and then they announced that it was going to be re-launched as Napster. It also meant a free month of service for all former PressPlay subscribers :slight_smile: )

i heard the new napster was $9.95 a month with unlimited downloads

I forgot to mention: the sevice I have (unlimited streaming and downloading) costs $9.95 a month. And apparently, it is possible to buy an album (for $9.95), but I’ve never done this myself, since if I want the whole album I’ll just go to the store.

I don’t really have an opinion as to which is the best, but with iTunes, you can buy individual songs or whole albums. You can preview a 30 second sample of each song for free.

My beef with any of the services are:
-The selection sucks. What do you mean “0 results for your search “Frank Zappa””?
-Sound quality sucks ass. YMMV of course, but I like my cymbals to sound like cymbals.
-Durability. I still listen to LPs that my mother bought in the early 60s. 40 years down the road, will I be able to listen to the songs I bought?

However, for the songs they do have, it’s nice to be able to get a quick preview. Just so that I’m not totally left in the dark when people talk about Outkast or whatnot.

iTunes Music Store kicks major ass. Easy to navigate, easy to browse, simple licensing agreements, audio books and interviews, and no Microsoft-controlled DRM. :wink:

You could backup the stuff you’ve bought, you know…

No, just Apple controlled DRM. :slight_smile:

Both services are pretty much the same if you want to buy single songs or albums. Same restrictions, same price, etc. Use iTunes if you have an iPod, Napster if you have a WMA capable MP3 player. Napster does have the streaming service, which is nice as long as you keep up your subscription. Doesn’t really replace buying CD’s but it’s a lot cheaper.

Brad Pittiful: In Napster, you get unlimited “downloads” for $9.99, true. But they expire in 45 days, and you can’t transfer them to CD or a portable. So not the greatest.

I’ve only used Apple’s iTunes Music Store, so I can’t compare the different services, but I’ve been very happy with it. The main problem is selection, but it seems as if that’s a problem with all the services at this point. Hopefully that’ll start changing as more and more labels come aboard.

I’ve heard the following complaint/question from a number of people regarding the online music stores, and I’ve never really understood it:

… and the like, wanting to know if they get to redownload the songs if they lose them on their computers. If you purchase a physical CD from a music store, and scratch it to the point where it’s unplayable, or lose the CD, do you get to go to the store and get another one? Not any music store I know. So why do people expect to be able to get an unlimited number of copies from the source using this system? Just back it up, same as you would any other piece of software.

I hear all of you only discussing iTunes and Napster 2.0. What about Rhapsody? Have any of you tried and compared that one?

True, but at least it’s based on the MPEG-4 standard, which means it could migrate from being an Apple-controlled DRM scheme to a standards-based DRM scheme without much effort.

I use
it’s pretty easy to use

I absolutely love Rhapsody and I’ve used it for quite awhile now. The selection is surprisingly good (although it could be alot better), and streaming (as opposed to downloading) the music really suits me.

Unlimited streaming of thousands of full albums- cool.

I’m using Rhapsody (paying the premium service). For broadband, it’s excellent. Rhapsody lets you manage a playlist and create your own radio channels (as well as having plenty of prepackaged channels). None of the songs are stored on your hard drive (except as a cache file for recently listened-to). When a song is played, it is streamed, and there’s only a two second delay before it starts playing.

Then, after creating and pruning playlists, you can buy CD quality songs and burn them (.79 - .99 USD per song) onto a CD. You now own the song like you own the song on any brick and mortar CD you buy. You can also buy whole albums at a discount.

Then you use your CD as your personal hard copy. From the CD you can rip the songs (create MP3s) and use them (legally) any way you want without restrictions.

There is a blogger with good reviews of all the services here.


I recall reading the Apple’s service would allow the license of the song to be on five computers.
So if the license is controlled centrally, so if that unique computer has the correct identification, then you can retrieve the song you had. Is that how it works?

iTunes also comes with a few hundred radio stations from which you can stream music for absolutely free. It also has a cd burner (I don’t believe napster has one). And, if you’re on a network, you can share (i.e., stream but not copy) music between other people - some colleges have hundreds of people on the same network.

One difference between Napster radio stations and iTunes ones is that the Napster one is really just a streamed normal playlist. So you can skip songs and such.

Not quite.

When you sign up with the iTunes Music Store, you have an account that lets you use up to three computers to play your music. So if you buy a song, you can copy it to two other Macs or Windows PCs, authorize them, then play the song without any problems. If you want to sell one of your computers, you should de-authorize it first.

Note that this is for playing a copy of the song on those computers. If your computers are all on a local network, you can “share” (stream) the songs from one computer to another, without reaching the limit.

If you accidentally delete your only copy of a song, though, then you’ll have to re-purchase it from the store. Making backups of your purchased music is your responsibility. :slight_smile:

But if I buy the CD in the first place it can serve as my backup. Making backups takes longer.

Thanks for all the replies. I guess the services still aren’t at the point where I think they’re worth the money.

I wouldn’t mind paying for online music as long as I am allowed to burn the songs to CD and back them up properly.

So yeah, I won’t be getting into this stuff anytime soon.

Umm- iTunes allows you, actually has a feature that allows you to burn to a CD.