Experience with non-iTunes Stores?

by Steve Mallett

What has been your experience with non-iTunes online music stores?

I've had inquiries from several folks about adding other music stores to iTunesLove, but I looked at several & none of them worked as elegantly for me as iTunes. Mind you, I'm biased so what say you?


11 Comments

peterkirn
2005-12-31 08:34:11
Online Music Stores
You're right in that iTunes is unquestionably the most elegant of the download-to-own stores. My new habit is to buy albums/song from iTunes, burn them to CD, and reimport them to break copy protection. I haven't noticed any major loss of fidelity (and anyway, if it's an album for which I'm concerned for fidelity, I go out and buy the darn CD -- in fact, to support indie music stores, I do that whenever possible.)


Of the subscription services, though, I'll vote for Rhapsody. Here's why:


Napster: Finally added higher bitrate (192 kbps), but the integration into Windows Media Player makes it clunky and slow; it's too hard to find music. Once they're downloaded, they're in WMP, but you can configure it to do that with other services (just set up a watch folder).


Yahoo: Why is this winning so many awards? Decent selection and 192 kbps files, plus a great radio service, but the client software is completely broken. Buttons disappearing. Crashes. Sometimes it actually plays the WRONG SONGS. Also, like Napster, slow, clunky, painful.


Rhapsody: Slight bitrate sacrifice (160 kbps, which had previously been the high-end), but by far the best service. I've found one glitch where the software's streaming buffer can become corrupted, but Rhapsody's support helped me fix the problem. The editorial content is great, selection is very good, and I love the ability to audition whole albums. Unlike iTunes, I know I can go listen to a lot of new music without emptying my wallet.


Now using the Mac web browser version, too, which works reasonably well, though there are some kinks to get out. (And it'd be nice if they at least let you save playlists.)


But cross-platform subscription music that works? That's worth a mention.


Peter

gregsabo
2005-12-31 09:16:47
hm...
What about www.emusic.com? I've tried their service before... I liked it because there was very little integrated software (just a download client but no player) because everything is in plain vanilla mp3 format. This means that there's no copy protection to mess around with.
Their selection doesn't include a lot of major releases, but it's the place to go for independant music and the like.
spaceman
2006-01-01 07:14:02
hm...
Funny, I was all set to try out emusic until their free trial wanted my credit card info & I had to cancel if I wan ted out again. And that's with 50 free mp3s when you sign up.


I'd like to try it out without the 50 freebies & credit card sign up.

spaceman
2006-01-01 07:15:54
Online Music Stores
You had me sold, but the store doesn't like non US citizens. I'm a Canuck. Blame Canada!
major_tom
2006-01-01 15:08:34
eMusic
I just took eMusic up on their 50 free download offer a couple days ago. Personally, I have no problem giving them my credit card, as long as I also put a calendar tickler in to remind myself to turn off the service.


Probably, though, I won't cancel. I immediately found several albums I had been eyeing at iTunes, available at eMusic at a quarter of the price. A quarter!


These are +/- 192kbps MP3s, and while I prefer 128kbps AAC, they're pretty similar as best I can tell. The files come nicely tagged, although unlike iTMS, you have to drag over the artwork yourself. Also, as somebody already mentioned, there's no DRM.


Did I mention the songs were only a quarter a piece?


I find their subscription plans annoying. You cannot buy-as-you-go; rather, you must subscribe to one or the other plans that gives you x songs per month -- $9.95 buys you 40 songs (there's that quarter again), or you can pay more and drop the price per song even lower.


Their music -- 600,000 songs from a catalog of 9,000+ labels -- tends toward the non-mainstream, which suits me fine. They do have some older albums by now-mainstream bands -- I found Nine Inch Nail's 1989 release Pretty Hate Machine and picked up two songs for a half-dollar, then discovered this album isn't even available among the 13 NIN albums offered at iTMS. Their staff write articulate reviews, their sidebars contain accurate and useful links to other relevant music, and while I haven't downloaded enough yet to have my "neighbors" automatically establish itself, it looks promising -- a system of comparing your downloads with other members to track down music you might appreciate and would otherwise have missed..


The only real drawback I can find is the subscription system, but that seems to be how they're able to keep the price so low. I'll likely remain a member, as it seems a worthwhile place to look for music before going straight to iTMS. If they both have the same music, why wouldn't I pay a quarter instead of a dollar?

spaceman
2006-01-02 06:49:26
eMusic
If you can get past giving them your CC it sounds like a great deal.


Some pricing thoughts unrelated to emusic specifically:
At $.25 (or $.99) per song how much does an artist make?
Does the value a person places on a piece of music decline with its price?
At what point does the price become meaningless? As it trends toward .01 why not just download it?

major_tom
2006-01-02 11:18:31
eMusic
According to this site, artists get 11 cents from each iTunes sale. If it scales the same (a MAJOR if!) then figure artists are getting a couple pennies for each song sold via eMusic. I say this knowing it is utter conjecture with little, if any, basis in reality.


For me, personally, the value *does* decline with the price. It's the reason I decided to go legit some months ago, frankly. I found my iPod crammed with random music I cared nothing about, clogging it up so that I just sort of stopped listening to music. Since deleting ALL of that music, re-ripping my cds (I wanted to switch to AAC anyway, which is why I deleted even them when clearing things out) and purchasing hundreds of songs via iTunes and now eMusic, my appreciation for my collection has grown immensely. (http://www.downhillbattle.org/itunes/)

major_tom
2006-01-02 11:19:00
eMusic
Guess that bit of html doesn't work here. The site in question is http://www.downhillbattle.org/itunes/
zarathos
2006-01-30 08:35:06
Online Music Stores
Puretracks.com is fairly decent...I've downloaded a few songs from them (thanks to my girlfriend's daughter having an addiction to Kraft Dinner...:). The site is easy to use, but my only complaint is that they use WMA format audio, which I have to convert to use anywhere but my pc. The price is right there with iTunes, and the selection is just about as good. And yes, it's Canuck-friendly...if you want to try it out, pick up a case of KD, there's a code inside for 5 free downloads.
glakes
2008-03-13 05:51:52
Don't give eMusic your CC!! They charge you $99 right away and won't return it. I have emailed them innumerable times only to get an auto reply . . . anybody have an actual phone #?
Terra
2008-04-18 16:52:08
test :)