I’ve just received an iPod, and so the acquisition of digital music is suddenly much more interesting to me. I have the following requirements:
- I want music
- I want it cheap
- I want it to work with my iPod
- I preferrably want it without DRM
So I surely must prostrate myself before iTunes? They’re getting a lot of press following the announcement by EMI that they’re selling their entire digital catalog without DRM, and at a higher quality than was previously available. Actually, a bit of searching shows that there is some respectable competition out there:
- 7digital offers EMI’s catalog as 320kbps MP3s (probably better than iTunes 256kbps AAC), and are cheaper than iTunes.
- eMusic offers DRM-free 192kbps VBR MP3s on a subscription based plan that works out much less than iTunes’ per track cost. Now their selection is limited, but if you like good music (i.e. the music I like) you’ll be well covered. Catalog search and FAQ here
- Bleep sells DRM-free 192kbps VBR MP3s. Like eMusic their selection is limited to “good music”. Individual tracks cost more than iTunes, but albums are less.
None of the above options offer the range of iTunes, but all are certainly worth considering before hitting iTunes. My main problem with eMusic is the subscription model; while 40 tracks a month is great, my monthly music budget is a less, on average, than their subscription fee. 7digital’s site is just a mess, which makes it distinctly less appealing. So it looks like Bleep is going to be my first port of call for digital music, followed by 7digital or iTunes.