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Top 10 Places to Buy Music

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The Internet is changing the world, and has opened up new ways to distribute music, and new places to get it. We recently asked you where you buy your music, and this article wraps up your answers. It summarizes the “hive mind” of Audiotuts+ readers on the best places to buy purchase music today.

While the usual suspects were all mentioned, there is great diversity in the answers given when you answered the question, "Where do you buy your music?" - and some surprises.

Also, several issues were raised in the comments. One was the quality of the music - whether to buy music in a compressed format, or lossless. This was a big issue for many commenters, and several sources for lossless music were mentioned.

Another issue was whether you need to buy music at all when it seems to be readily available for free. Some commenters questioned the audio quality of digital downloads, and felt that justified downloading it for free. Others felt the corporate labels are already rich enough, and didn’t deserve any more money. Others seemed to say that they don’t pay for music because they don’t believe the musician gets a big enough percentage. Others, who thought they were buying their music from sites like Rapidshare, seemed unaware they were acquiring music illegally.

While we agree that many aspects of music distribution need to be improved and revolutionized, we urge you to support the musicians you love by purchasing music legally and appropriately. And we musicians need to be constantly rethinking how we distribute our music to reach the maximum number of people and support ourselves financially. That’s the topic of the book being given away in this week’s competition.

Well, without further ado, here are the top 10 places to buy music:

1. Buy CDs

A surprising number of you prefer to buy your music on CD - either from online stores like Amazon, or from your local music store. Most of you don’t listen to music on the CD - you rip it to a digital format and enjoy it on your computer or portable music device.

There are many advantages to buying music on CDs:

  • High quality - the music is lossless with no degradation of quality
  • Flexibility - you can encode the music in any format you like
  • No DRM - though fortunately that is almost a non-issue today
  • Backup - after ripping your music you can store the CD in a safe place
  • The simple joy of having something to hold in your hand.

2. Apple iTunes Store

URL: n/a - access through the iTunes music player

Songs: more than 10,000,000

Not surprisingly, many of you get your music from iTunes. Apple’s music distribution channel has a lot going for it: the popularity of the iPod (and now iPhone), which relies on Apple’s iTunes software as it’s lifeline to your computer, which has the iTunes store integrated inside it.

But more than this, iTunes is the first online store that made digital downloads mainstream, and they still have the largest number of songs to sell. Apple have done well, and consumers have responded. And now that their music doesn’t contain DRM there is little to stop anyone from using the store - as long as you’re happy with compressed formats.

3. Beatport

URL: www.beatport.com

Number of songs: 100,000

Commenters love this site because it is comprehensive, has a great reference system, and offers lossless WAV files.

Beatport is the recognized leader in electronic dance music downloads for DJs and club music enthusiasts. Download high quality MP3s and WAV file formats. Weekly top ten DJ Charts. Buy from 600k+ tracks of House, Techno, Electro, Trance, Drum & Bass, Minimal, Dubstep and ten other dance music genres. Ten free digital downloads to get you started.”

4. Amazon MP3

URL: www.amazon.com

Number of songs: over 10,000,000

Amazon won many of our hearts when they started offering non-DRM music before Apple. Their MP3 downloads catalogue is constantly growing, but is still way behind iTune’s. Unlike the Apple Store, you can shop directly from the website. Sofware for downloading the music is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and music can be directly downloaded to the iTunes or Windows media players.

5. eMusic.com

URL: www.emusic.com

Number of songs: 7,000,000

eMusic has been around since 1998, and runs on a subsription model. Unfortunately due to licensing restrictions, eMusic is not available in all countries, including Australia. In fact, they have given me almost no access to their website. If you use and love eMusic, tell us what you like about it in the comments.

6. Juno Download

URL: www.junodownload.com

Number of songs: 1,000,000

“Welcome to Juno Download, the dance MP3 and WAV site from the makers of Juno Records! We have over one million tracks available.”

7. Bleep

URL: www.bleep.com

Number of songs: unknown

One commenter loves Bleep’s business model - the artist gets half of the profit from each sale. You can’t argue with that. Bleep is a subsidiary of Warp Records, but carries music from over 300 independent labels. They offer lossless FLAC and WAV formats.

8. Boomkat.com

URL: www.boomkat.com

Number of songs: unknown

Boomkat is “a specialist music website brought to you by a dedicated team who have been operating in this field for over 7 years now - building up a huge resource of information and opinion about music that exists beyond the radar. Our product extends to cover the most underground forms of Electronic music, Hip Hop, Post-Folk, Alt.Country, IDM, Electro, Acoustica, Post-Rock, Ambient, Micro House, Detroit Techno, Mentalism, Electropop, Indiepop, Grime, Free Jazz, Modern Composition, Cologne Techno, Future Disco, Drone, Sublow, Soundtracks, Noise and out and out post-generic objects of wonder.”

Besides digital downloads, Boomkat also offer CDs and vinyl. They are based in the UK.

9. Napster

URL: free.napster.com

Number of songs: 8,000,000 songs

Coming from controversial beginnings, the Napster brand and logo are now used by a legitimate online music service. Paul Millar, one of our UK commenters subscribes to Napster: “I have a Napster subscription which satisfies all of my musical needs which costs me £9.99 a month. If Napster doesnt have a song I want, I go to iTunes.”

“Napster, is the ultimate digital music package, offering unlimited on-demand music streaming as well as downloadable MP3s for one’s permanent collection playable on any MP3 compatible device, including iPod®, iPhone® and all MP3 music-enabled mobile phones. The company’s online service is available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany and Japan.”

10. Trackitdown

URL: www.trackitdown.net

Number of songs: unknown

“Trackitdown.net is your home for dance music on the net, offering the very best in music downloads and editorial features on the biggest names in dance. The music files offered for download are in a selection of formats including 192kbps, 320kbps & lossless WAV Audio format providing great quality and flexibility.”

Have we left out your favorite place to buy music? Let us know in the comments.

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