Spotify alternative for buying mp3's?
March 11, 2015 4:29 AM   Subscribe

I recently discovered Spotify and love it. For the past years I still mostly listened to music from cd's I bought over 10 years ago, and I have a lot of fun discovering different music. The only problem with Spotify for me is that it works on my phone, and I would prefer to use a standard mp3 player (not iPod). Almost all my music listening is when I'm exercising and when I'm offline.

I like the fixed price per month with Spotify though. I looked for alternatives that do let you download mp3's and came across emusic. They have a EUR 12/month subscription model that lets you download up to 24 songs a month, but I have no idea about their catalog and to sign up for a trial requires a credit card.

Are there other services like this, where you can buy DRM free mp3's for less than on iTunes/Amazon by paying a subscription price, and that have a big collection to choose from?
posted by blub to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
With a paid Spotify subscription you can mark playlists available for offline play.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:39 AM on March 11, 2015

Response by poster: I know I can play them offline (that's what I do now), but not on an mp3 player, which is what I want. I'm looking for a service that lets me download mp3's.
posted by blub at 4:57 AM on March 11, 2015

Best answer: Which mp3 player do you have? There are options for download subscriptions, but they may be limited to even specific non-phone mp3 devices. In particular, Rhapsody and e-music comes to mind, although I cannot speak to quality.
posted by Karaage at 5:04 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks Karaage! Rhapsody looks good at first sight. They have most of the songs I currently listen to (though not all - they seem to have less than Spotify) and great pricing too. I want to buy a new MP3 player. I was going to go for the Sony NWZ-W273S since it's wireless and waterproof. It doesn't mention any services that work with it, so I assume there aren't any that work specifically with this mp3-player. I might go for the Sanza Clip with Rhapsody if there are no device independent options, though I prefer something that can be used in rain.

I now see that I had previously landed on a promo-page for emusic, and that the front page does actually let you browse and check out the music they have, so that's still an option as well.
posted by blub at 6:01 AM on March 11, 2015

You found something you love, keep using it! Get some bluetooth sports headphones and connect to your phone, it's in front of you at the gym anyway.
posted by devnull at 6:15 AM on March 11, 2015

eMusic has a limited catalog that's focused mostly on indy artists. If you want to hear really new stuff it's not bad but you're not going to be able to get most major labels' stuff there. At least in the US, there's a free track of the day included in the subscription, so you get whatever you chose to download plus ~30 songs.

If a free and legal mix of mostly indy rock is appealing to you, the CMJ mixtape is a monthly sampler that you can get in exchange for liking them on Facebook or signing up for their e-mail list.

If you find stuff that you like on Spotify and are willing to go with a full album, both Google and Amazon have large selections and put various albums on sale at cheap prices each month or week.
posted by Candleman at 7:14 AM on March 11, 2015

Dont let being offline stop you! You can play music offline with Spotify, you just need to let it check in on wifi regularly.

I too love Spotify but was leery of using my new phone while exercising since I dropped my iphone4 on the gym changing room floor and shattered it. But today I have a 32g iphone 5 with no data plan, mobile data is perma switched off and I listen to music on Spotify in offline mode when in the car and when exercising.

At home the phone gets on wifi and I play music on Spotify in online mode. I use two playlist folders to separate the offline from the online music. I have Spotify desktop on my laptop and manage my playlists there but mark the offline/online on the phone playlists.

For the gym I got a pair of headphones that have stop/start/skip/volume on them and a sports armband for the phone. I make sure to be sitting down when I'm putting the phone in/out of the armband so that I'm less likely to drop it from a height. Put on armband, start Spotify, navigate to gym playlist folder, shuffle play on the entire folder (which contains several playlists, all marked as being available offline) and away I go.
posted by Ness at 8:46 AM on March 11, 2015

Response by poster: I really want to use an mp3 player and not my phone. I use my phone with Spotify now, and will continue to do that if that's really my best option, but I'm hoping to find services that do work with mp3 players like apparently Rhapsody and emusic.
posted by blub at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2015

Dedicated, decent quality, affordable mp3 players are getting harder and harder to find these days as the mobile phone market eats into their market share more and more. I asked a similar question several years ago. Cowan & iRiver seemed to come up as recommendations, along with the Zen line by Creative.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:23 AM on March 11, 2015

I am a luddite and do not use streaming services or my phone for any kind of media, so I'm not much help there, but I can heartily recommend the Sansa Clip line of mp3 players. Tiny, capacious, expandable with SD, near indestructible, and cheap as chips.
posted by Ilira at 10:18 AM on March 11, 2015

See if your library subscribes to Freegal. You get to download 3 free tracks per week with your library card. This is a great way to (very) slowly accumulate a bunch of albums that will always be yours since the downloads are DRM free.
posted by toddst at 11:25 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Freegal can indeed get you some, but they are limited to Sony music only and the download limit varies by library (mine only gives you 2 per week, for example).
posted by timepiece at 12:25 PM on March 12, 2015

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