Online Music Retail
July 8, 2011 5:56 AM   Subscribe

Where do you purchase your online music? I've been using Amazon since they sell MP3s without DRM. I'm not a fan of the software the provide though.
posted by zzazazz to Shopping (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Which software do you mean? The download tool, or their cloud player?

The advantage of getting the DRM-free MP3s is that you can use whatever software you want to organize or play your music, which is why I use Amazon for most of my (admittedly limited) music purchases.
posted by maxim0512 at 6:00 AM on July 8, 2011

Response by poster: To partially answer my own question I do now check musicians websites to see if they provide a link to a preferred method. I've done that with the Drive by Truckers, Southern Culture on the Skids and the new Gillian Welch album.

To answer maxim0512, I don't like their download tool.
posted by zzazazz at 6:02 AM on July 8, 2011

Itunes has DRM free music now, btw, and it's simple to convert to mp3.
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on July 8, 2011

A lot of times, you can buy direct from record labels. I personally tend to buy from beatport, but I like electronica, and that's all they have.
posted by empath at 6:06 AM on July 8, 2011

eMusic is a DRM-free flat monthly subscription based service. The offerings tend toward the more indie side of things, but that suits me just fine. It will surprise you from time to time. I recently grabbed some Rolling Stones and some Jesus and Mary Chain.
posted by Gilbert at 6:09 AM on July 8, 2011

Yeah, the Amazon download tool isn't great. One alternative would be to just have Amazon deliver the songs to the Cloud Player, and then download the music from there, which I'm pretty sure you can do without using the download tool.

That said, if you're willing to use multiple sources, following the artist's lead as you've been doing is a great approach.
posted by maxim0512 at 6:11 AM on July 8, 2011

Unfortunately I usually end up going with iTunes, for the convenience factor.
posted by firei at 6:16 AM on July 8, 2011

I use Amazon. You are using the download tool for 60 seconds or so while an album downloads, then you close it and don't think of it again until the next purchase. Who cares if it kind of sucks?
posted by COD at 6:30 AM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'm with COD on this - why is the Amazon tool so odious, especially compared to iTunes which takes over your whole music experience. What exactly is your problem with it? That might help us recommend alternatives. As a past eMusic subscriber, for instance, I can tell you that their downloader is basically exactly the same thing as Amazon's. I don't know of any minimal approach (ala Amazon and eMusic) that's substantially different from what you've used already.
posted by heresiarch at 6:38 AM on July 8, 2011

eMusic is a DRM-free flat monthly subscription based service. The offerings tend toward the more indie side of things, but that suits me just fine. It will surprise you from time to time. I recently grabbed some Rolling Stones and some Jesus and Mary Chain.

I use eMusic too. It tends to be a little cheaper than Amazon, but the downside is you have a monthly allotment that doesn't roll over, and the selection is limited, though it's always expanding and changing. They've been getting less and less indie: they scrapped several indie labels that carried bands like Arcade Fire, Dirty Projectors, and the New Pornographers, and have been adding a lot of huge acts like Prince, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga.
posted by John Cohen at 6:47 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I use Amazon. It automatically adds the track to iTunes, which means it made it to my iPhone on the next sync. It was awesome.
posted by exhilaration at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2011

I buy my music from the artist if possible, followed by whoever is cheaper between Amazon and iTunes. However, since I've been syncing my iPhone with my Mac less and less I find the iTunes app to be almost too convenient to ignore. Darn Apple and their effective strategy.
posted by hijinx at 6:56 AM on July 8, 2011

I'm a die-hard physical music junkie, but for the occasional MP3 purchase I use either Amazon or 7Digital. Or I buy direct from the artist/label.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:57 AM on July 8, 2011

iTunes over Amazon, because they sell 256Kbps AAC tracks without DRM and AAC is better than MP3, though to be fair at 256Kbps most mortals can't reliably tell the difference between the two.

It is indeed simple to convert AAC to MP3 but not desirable, as some measure of quality (albeit possibly an imperceptible measure) is unavoidably (and irretrievably) lost. And these days pretty much everything supports AAC, so why bother?
posted by wo is me at 7:06 AM on July 8, 2011

I use Amazon, and their download software works great on Linux as well.
posted by TrinsicWS at 7:22 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rhapsody now has an a la cart online store which sometimes has good deals and works about as well as anything. Because of some exceptionally good deals I've gotten there I often check them out for price, along with Amazon and iTunes.

I thought Napster was playing around with offering standalone downloads (I bought a few with Coca Cola reward points) but it looks like they are strictly about on-demand play oriented subscription deals where you maybe never actually own anything now (?) Anyway their system did not want to play nice with my iMac, but at the end of the day I downloaded a bunch of songs as a reward for having drunk way too much cola.

I was a member of eMusic for several years. Despite their eroding the value of a subscription a lot over the last few years, it is still a good deal if you buy a substantial amount of music very regularly. They have been closing in on getting rights to sell nearly all the catalogs of the mainstream record labels: they are no longer an indie-only store (though they still have the biggest indie catalog bar none)

Towards the end I started to feel like I basically had a music bank account with eMusic that forced me to buy so much music every month (you lose your purchase allotment at the end of the month if you don't spend it). It was usually a good deal pricewise but I had to manage it to make it so. I looked at my eMusic folder on iTunes one day and realized I was just buying stuff because I needed to buy something before the clock on that month ran out. I hadn't listened to half of it. More often too I was overpaying for things there because there was a better deal elsewhere. But I "had" to buy it at eMusic because I had subscription money in my "bank". I spend less money on music now just buying what I really want a la cart (though part of this is a big war chest of music I bought while on the eMusic subscription keeping my ears happy).

And now my traditional round-up of non-traditional MP3 download store AskMe threads, I've been tagging these in favorites for years now. First one I linked to my own comment because I link to a bunch of other threads in that one. These are mainly geared to indie/"not mainstream" sources.

1 2 3 4 5
posted by nanojath at 8:11 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I get three free downloads per week at because my local library uses them. Other than that, Amazon or iTunes.
posted by soelo at 8:47 AM on July 8, 2011

Using Amazon's download tool (or the new cloud stuff) isn't required when pourchasing their MP3s -- look closely, it can be bypassed.
posted by Rash at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also have my music from amazon delivered to "the cloud" since I buy mostly at work when I'm bored. When I get home I just download from the cloud directly onto my computer. I don't even remember using the download software at this point so I can't tell you if it is less annoying but I don't find it annoying at all.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:36 AM on July 8, 2011

Rash is right. When you buy an mp3 on the page where it asks you to get the mp3 downloader, there is also a sentence:

If you would rather not install the Amazon MP3 Downloader, you can Skip installation and continue without the Amazon MP3 Downloader.

Clicking on "Skip Installation" takes you to page where you just download the song life a regular file.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:07 AM on July 8, 2011

Maybe solve whatever problem you're having with the tool. You just double-click the AMZ file and it downloads the music in the background to wherever you want. Is your experience of this different?
posted by cnc at 10:46 AM on July 8, 2011

I have no idea about Windows, but on Linux Pymazon works pretty well as a download tool to use with amazon.
posted by atbash at 3:21 PM on July 8, 2011

Just bought a couple MP3s from Amazon, and no longer any mention of their downloader, no sign of the fine print nooneyouknow described. Cloud was given as an option, which I ignored, and then the usual Windows 'Save As' screen appeared. A friend was so ticked off with Amazon's previous set-up he sent them a nastygram, I guess many more of their customers must have complained, as well.
posted by Rash at 3:04 PM on July 9, 2011

I get my music at (full disclosure: I help develop the site.) We're a small crew that concentrates on finding and recommending the good stuff. Our tastes are diverse. Most of the mainstream stuff is there if you search for it, but we mostly go for indie label stuff. We're always grateful for feedback and tips for improvement.
posted by chillmost at 11:33 AM on October 17, 2011

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