I need my music fix!
August 4, 2006 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Poor student needs music service suggestions.

Ok Mefites, come help a poor(ish) student out. I love music, but I don't really want to pay a buck per song on iTunes. What ( legal ) music services out there offer downloads cheaper than iTunes. More specifically I'm looking for a monthly (yearly is ok) subscription that will get me the most songs for my money. What I'm not looking for are internet only services like Pandora, or illegal sources like limewire. Bonus points if I can use the files on any computer easily. Thanks!
posted by tdreyer1 to Grab Bag (23 answers total)
I don't use it myself, but I've heard good things about emusic and they have a free trial period.
posted by easternblot at 7:27 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yup, emusic is what you're looking for. They have monthly plans with varying levels of price/downloads per month. I believe you can buy a yearly plan as well. With the monthly plan, your cost per song looks to average about 25 cents or less. Of course, there is the pressure to use up your allotted downloads by the end of the month, as they don't roll over.

No DRM on the tracks at all. Just straight up MP3s, use them anywhere, on any number of devices.

Keep in mind they carry independent labels, not majors, so browse around before you sign up for real.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:36 AM on August 4, 2006

In soviet Russia, allofmp3.com is illegal to use YOU!
posted by cogat at 7:42 AM on August 4, 2006

What ( legal ) music services out there ...

You may have more legal avenues than you believe, depending on where you live. Wikipedia on fair dealing.
posted by Chuckles at 7:43 AM on August 4, 2006

It's called "Borrow CDs from friends. Rip them." There's another great one called "Have friends burn you MP3 CDs."
posted by The Michael The at 7:50 AM on August 4, 2006

Response by poster: @ The Michael The: That is what I'm trying to avoid. I wholely support paying for what I get, as if I were in the musician's position, I wouldn't want people to rip my cd's for others.

@chuckles: FYI I'm in the U.S.
posted by tdreyer1 at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2006

The two best options, based on what you want, are Emusic and Rhapsody. Emusic allows you to download and own the music that you want for a pretty reasonable price. Rhapsody allows you to play whatever you want when your computer is connected to the internet, and pay a little more to download tracks. What the market research has found for Rhapsody is that even folks that believe that they'll be downloading lots of music actually prefer to just stream it instead. And with a university connection, it's always on, and allows you to listen to an assload of different stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 8:01 AM on August 4, 2006

LaLa is a CD trading service, not a downloading service, that just started up a month or two ago. For $1/trade, you can receive new CDs with their cover art from other lala members. I burn CDs I'm sending out, so I keep the music, and get new stuff. You can keep CDs you receive, and are under no obligation to send any particular CDs. However, the more CDs you send, the more you receive.
posted by cahlers at 8:17 AM on August 4, 2006

LaLa is also planning to give 20% of revenues back to artists. Not sure if this part is up and running yet, but there's more info on their website.
posted by cahlers at 8:19 AM on August 4, 2006

emusic is relatively cheap, but a lot of artists aren't available there.

allofmp3 does not give any money to the artists, so (in my view) it's really not much better than limewire et al.

if you're willing to buy entire CDs and get things in the mail, you can probably do pretty well ordering used via half.com or amazon marketplace.

personally, I wish there were some easy way to pay artists whatever royalties they'd get if I bought a song/CD, and just obtain the song/CD illegally on my own. Royalty rates are pretty low.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:27 AM on August 4, 2006

posted by radioamy at 8:34 AM on August 4, 2006

I can't believe nobody has mentioned it yet.... I was given a free year at Napster and to be honest, I think it's awesome, and would pay the fee if I had to. The only drawback: its music won't play on an iPod.

So long as you have an mp3 player that does WMA (most that are not an iPod do), or just want to listen on your computer, Napster is great.

It's $14.99/month for unlimited downloads that are playable as long as your subscription lasts. You can pay roughly $0.99/track to buy permanently playable ones if you do desire, but as long as you're not planning on cancelling, you don't really need to do this.

You can also stream all of the music, which is what I currently do most.

Basically, you're paying the cost of 1 CD per month to be able to listen to as much music as you want for the life of your subscription, and "try before you buy" if you decide you may cancel in the future and want to buy songs.
posted by twiggy at 8:49 AM on August 4, 2006

I burn CDs I'm sending out, so I keep the music

Let us know if the RIAA knocks on your door thanks to this post. ;-)
posted by twiggy at 8:50 AM on August 4, 2006

Twiggy: do I not have the rights to the music, if I bought it?
posted by cahlers at 8:54 AM on August 4, 2006

tdreyer1: That is what I'm trying to avoid. I wholely support paying for what I get, as if I were in the musician's position, I wouldn't want people to rip my cd's for others.

There are a couple of ways of looking at this, because if I were a musician, I would be more than happy to have more people listening to my music because there is 1. greater potential for sales and 2. well, I would just want people to listen to my music. If I were in it for the music, that is.

First, let me say that 98% of my music collection is purchased, with the remainder being burned from friends. You can look at swapping music person to person as a loan of music. Some stuff you'll listen to a few times, decide it's "eh", and put it aside. You wouldn't buy it anyway. Other stuff you'll listen to occasionally. Maybe you'd buy it, maybe not, but your money would probably be better spent elsewhere. Finally, there's stuff you really like and will listen to all the time, which is the stuff you'd buy and that would be worth buying. In that case, you can go out and buy the CD, or the $9.99 download, or whatever, fully compensating the artist. It's not ripping off anyone, it's you using all tools at your disposal to make wise economic choices. You wouldn't buy a bike without riding it, so why do the equivalent with music?

That said, I fully support buying music from artists you like. Some albums I got from friends were replaced by real copies of both the CD and vinyl and the back catalog and concert tickets and t-shirts and etc. Getting music from friends isn't some illegal activity, it's smart shopping. It also potentially pays off more to the great artists and doesn't reward poor artists for their mediocrity.

Add to this the fact that, dude, you're in college. You don't have cash to be throwing around, but you will in a few years from now, when you'll have a paycheck and be able to buy dozens of albums each month. You'll pay back those greedy artists later, don't so much sweat it now.
posted by The Michael The at 10:17 AM on August 4, 2006

cahlers, you don't own the music, you owned a copy of the music, with limited rights, all of which you gave up when you traded the CD to someone else. If/When you are caught is a matter of RIAA diligence, but the legal aspect is pretty clear.
posted by nomisxid at 10:32 AM on August 4, 2006

If I bought the original CD, why is making a copy for myself violating any laws?
posted by cahlers at 11:24 AM on August 4, 2006

"Twiggy: do I not have the rights to the music, if I bought it?"

Nope. You own the CD, and can listen to the music. Making a copy for yourself isn't violating any laws. Keeping that copy once you're done with the CD is.
(Are these laws necessarily moral? No. Are they the law? Yes. You should work to change the laws if you don't like them.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 AM on August 4, 2006

My eMusic subscription is consistently the best $9.99 I spend all month. But you might want to check here to see if the labels you like put their stuff on eMusic. Nothing from the majors, but if your tastes run anywhere close to indie (Matador, Merge, Anti-, 4AD), you'll be in heaven.
posted by aparrish at 11:31 AM on August 4, 2006

posted by blag at 12:44 PM on August 4, 2006

Your local library has a variety of CDs for you to borrow, free of charge.

IANAL, but, to follow tdreyer's lead... what does legal mean, exactly? Either you can pay out the nose (CDs), have to deal with DRMed music (iTunes), or follow the letter (and certainly not the spirit) of the law in an absurdly brazen manner (allofmp3).

if, however, you feel that the current system is unjust, then paying into it is... feeding the hand that bites you? attending a concert and buying a t-shirt will do an inordinate amount more for the band than buying their newest album at a big-box store anyway, I try not to ever buy retail media (books and CDs), because they're incredibly overpriced in the light of our highly competitive market for used books, music, etc.

I don't claim to be some sort of alterna-anti-capitalist-hippy-anarcho-socialist-douchebag-fuck, I buy retail books and CDs, too. But, when I know I'm paying a massive markup (textbooks, especially ones where they don't actually add any new information, just scramble around the homework problems so you can't use a previous edition), I know that the
publisher has one, and only one goal in mind: get as much capital as possible for as little labor as possible.

I'm not arguing a tit-for-tat kind of thing, but rather, legal codes are socially constructed, and therefore is only as good as the means of enforcement. Just as the publishing companies don't feel obligated to operate as an actor in a free and fair market, relying on a cornucopia of unfair and anti-market practices (payola, price fixing, monopolies, etc) until litigation costs prevent them from doing so. Following the letter of the law, in this case, doesn't make you the "better man," but rather, a sucker. When they do it to you, it's business, but when you do it to them, it's OMG THEFT!!!!!!!!

Still, I know there are some flaws in my moral justification. Ostensibly, I think that child labor is a severe moral wrong, yet I'm far more comfortable with the idea of stealing music than with stealing a pair of sneakers. It probably has to do with the difference between an object and an idea (when I "steal" an idea, the original owner's idea doesn't go with me...)


on preview, what blag said
posted by LimePi at 2:32 PM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Has anyone pointed out MeFiMusic yet? I'd say that's the best deal around. It's free and you get to snark at the musicians to boot.
posted by persona non grata at 9:32 PM on August 5, 2006

Well, actually it costs $5. But you already know that so go check it out when you can. There is some truly amazing stuff there. MeFites are some very fine musicians.
posted by persona non grata at 9:38 PM on August 5, 2006

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