Is there a place to download music legally?

Question

Where can I download music files legally?

-Vince

Answer

This question was answered on August 6, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Since the early days of Napster (version 1), we have heard that digital music delivery systems would some day revolutionize the way we buy and listen to music.

No longer would we have to spend $17 on a CD that may have 2 or 3 desirable songs on it, because digital music delivery would allow us to buy only the songs that we wanted, ala carte Consumers suggested that the music industry should sell songs for 99 cents each and allow them to be downloaded instead of purchased in a store.

Well, the revolution is under way, due mostly to the music industries very late reaction to the problem of file sharing and piracy Many web sites on the Internet now offer legal music files for free, on a per song basis or in some cases in an ‘all you can eat’ monthly charge scheme.

One of the problems that always faced any potential music delivery system was the ability to strike a deal with each and every record label so that most popular artists would be available.

While this problem still exists, many of the legal music download sites have managed to gain access to large groups of popular artists, making their offerings more desirable While no single site offers every artist that you can think of, here is a list of potential sites that do a pretty good job:

MP3.com is one of the oldest and most established sites that has been offering free MP3 downloads since 1997 What began as a place for unknown artists to electronically publish and distribute their music, has become an affiliate for the Vivendi Universal label and includes free downloads for selected top 40 artists as well as all of the unsigned artists it hosts This site boasts over 1million audio files, but most are from unheard of artists It’s a great site for discovering totally new artists, but don't expect much for popular artists.

Other free music downloads sites (with mostly unknown artists) include PeopleSound.com, Dmusic.com, ArtistDirect.com, SoundClick.com and Usounds.com.

If you want the latest pop artists from the major labels, for the most part you must pay, either per song or by subscription.

Mac users have access to iTunes, which is a music store that is tied to the iT unes software This was the first real successful venture in a pay for songs digital downloading site With over 200,000 songs available from major artists for 99 cents per song, it set the standard for all other sites when it launched in April of 2003.

PressPlay.com boasts one of the larger libraries (300,000 songs) featuring artists from Sony, EMI, and Universal Music Group It is a subscription service that charges $9.95 per month for unlimited streaming and downloading of its library.

EMusic.com has a similar subscription model but features a large variety of independent labels and artists as well as the back catalogue of the Universal Music Group.

Listen.com offers one of the lowest prices at 79 cents per song and has agreements with the five biggest music companies-BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner Not all artists represented by these labels are available for download, like the Beatles for instance.

Before you join any pay service, be sure the check the list of artists and the songs available from those artists Most sites offer 30 second samples of songs so you can listen before you buy!

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on August 6, 2003