Charlie

legal music downloading

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These days there's a lot of music download services to choose from. What do you think is the best one? What I'd really like is one that allows me to simply pay a flat fee every month in exchange for an unlimited number of downloads of good quality songs. Or, failing that, at least a large number of downloads for a flat fee.

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My preferred music service is iTunes. I don't think it would work for what you want though. They charge $.99 a song and I don't think they have any flat rates. I like it because I can go to Target and buy gift cards for it, so I don't have to use my (nonexistent) credit card. I'm also a mac user, so iTunes works best with my computer and my iPod.

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I also prefer iTunes. They have a large selection, work very well with iPods (obviously!).

The giftcards also are very nice; not only can you buy them, but anyone can buy them for you as a gift.

iTunes also keeps up-to-date, and every week has at least 1 free song (most I've d/led are actually pretty good).

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iTunes carries a wide variety of music. I generally don't like pop music at all (by pop I mean music of any genre that is typically played on the radio or featured on MTV and VH1), and I have a lot of success finding music I like on iTunes.

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99 cents a song seems pretty expensive. For that price, it would usually be cheaper for me to just buy a cd, since my local used cd shop sells them for about $10, and most CDs have more than 10 tracks on them. Is there any service that's cheaper?

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It depends on whether you actually want all the tracks on a CD. I never download all the songs on a CD, so I like iTunes because I'm not paying for music I don't want. So I don't mind that on a song-to-song price comparison, CD's are cheaper. But it depends on your own preferences.

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This isn't an answer to your specific question, but I do have a music-on-the-net recommendation. Lately I've been listening to internet radio via WinAmp. This has been perfect for my purposes. I've found a couple of stations that consistently play music that I like, I get a lot more variety than I could possibly afford if I bought tracks or CDs separately, and none of it requires paying for the music. Essentially, it has all the advantages of traditional radio--which I also listen to--except that there are a wider variety of stations and no commercials.

The two stations which I listen to the most and which I wholeheartedly recommend are:

RadioParadise: This listener-supported internet radio station functions through voluntary contributions of listeners. It plays a wide variety of music...from today's small independent bands to Springsteen to Bach. Listeners can even recommend new music, which then airs on a separate "listener review channel" where voting goes on.

Mostly Classical: What the name suggests. I've noticed that a lot of Loreena McKennitt is mixed in, which I like.

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Listen.com is a site that gives you access to a large number of songs for a flat rate. A few of my frineds have subscribed to the sercive and give it a good recommendation.

At the iTunes store, albums usually cost $10 no matter how many songs are on the album. "Sound and Vision" magazine rates iTunes as the best music download site, and I agree.

--Dan Edge

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Daniel reminded me:

iTunes also has a very nice selection of radio stations to choose from. It also has a large list of podcasts if you are interested in those as well. Both of these options are free for anyone (you don't pay any money to download iTunes. Only to buy the songs).

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Thanks for the input, guys. I like the internet radio idea- free is by far my favorite price. I'll try out itunes, also, since so many people here recommend it.

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  What I'd really like is one that allows me to simply pay a flat fee every month in exchange for an unlimited number of downloads of good quality songs.  Or, failing that, at least a large number of downloads for a flat fee.

Real.com's Rhapsody is a very good service. It is around $10.00 a month for unlimited listening to streaming audio of complete songs or even symphonies. If you have good speakers on your computer or are hooked up to your sound system, you don't even need to burn CD's. Last time I checked, the cost for burning was around .79 a track, and you can burn any combination of tracks that you wish.

For instance, you could save the first movement of every version of the Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto that has been recorded. Or, your could save every jazz version of Stella by Starlight, or any other tune you can think of. The only limitation is whether a particular version is in Rhapsody's library.

I recently made a listening list of all of Shostakovich's symphonies.

Another very nice feature is that you can save listening lists by song title, composer, genre, or artist.

It has made a major difference my life (as a musician) to be able to listen to about any piece of music anytime that I feel like it. I recommend Rhapsody highly.

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So I downloaded both Rhapsody (the free version, not the subscription) and Itunes. I have to say, they're both awesome, but I like Rhapsody a little better simply because its radio stations actually tell you the song that they're playing, so I can but it if I like it. They both cost 99 cents per track though.

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iTunes all the way! It supports audiobooks, podcasts, and iTunes exclusive releases. 99 cents a song is a bit steep, but the ease of use to buy a song is worth the extra cost. My only gripe is that it's prone to crash from time to time.

And of course, my iPod Shuffle that is small enough to follow me anywhere I go. :D

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"...but I like Rhapsody a little better simply because its radio stations actually tell you the song that they're playing, so I can but it if I like it."

When I listen to All Rush Radio on my ITunes it tells me the name of the song and the album it is from.

"And of course, my iPod Shuffle that is small enough to follow me anywhere I go."

iPods are greatness^infinity. If it weren't for mine (iPod Mini) jogging would be an absolute impossibility.

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So I downloaded both Rhapsody..... They both cost 99 cents per track though.

Track burning on Rhapsody has gone up since I joined the service. It's been a while since I burned a CD.

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I've been a Rhapsody, Napster, and Yahoo Music user and of these Yahoo is my favorite. For $5 a month I can play all of the music that I want (tons of radio stations are available as well as on-demand play options). The best part, however, is the ability to download as much music as I desire to my MP3 player. From there I can take it with me on the road or plug it in to a home stereo.

It isn't just for the price difference that I prefer Yahoo. I have found their software to be the easiest to use with an MP3 player (the Napster software is not MP3 player friendly). Yahoo also has a rating system that allows it to make suggestions for your listening based on your artist, song, and album ratings and this all integrates with their web-based music system which includes album reviews, artist biographies, and music videos. Most importantly, Yahoo's music library is sufficient enough even for those of us with very ecclectic tastes. Yahoo also offers the lowest price for music purchase at $0.79 per track.

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I've been a Rhapsody, Napster, and Yahoo Music user and of these Yahoo is my favorite.

Ray,

Can you create listening lists and folders of favorites, etc. for streaming audio with Yahoo?

Thanks,

Glenn

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Can you create listening lists and folders of favorites, etc. for streaming audio with Yahoo?

You can create playlists (which can in turn be sent to your friends or accessed by other members if you choose to make them public) that are enumerated lists of tracks or you can have the software create a list for you based on a selection of tracks. But I don't think Yahoo stands out from the other services in this respect.

I'm not sure what the "folders of favorites" feature would be that you're looking for but I'd be happy to get into as much detail about the Yahoo application as you like (I love to talk about software applications). :D

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I've downloaded over 500 Oldies (1950-1969) from MusicMatch, at 99 cents a song. However, WARNING: for the past month they've been having MAJOR problems; their "tech support" has in effect stopped functioning or responding. I don't think I'll ever buy from them again.

RealRhapsody and Walmart had few of the Oldies I'm interested in.

MSN Music seems to work great: downloads smoother and faster than MusicMatch.

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Are any of the services recommended above good for discovering music (as opposed to downloading or listening)? Do they let you quickly flip through different pieces? Do they suggest other artists who may be similar to ones you liked? For the radio stations mentioned: can you skip to the next song, or do you have to sit through every song, as with conventional radio?

My interest in music on the internet is limited to discovering music that I like; for subsequent listening/enjoyment, I prefer to buy the CD, since CD sound quality is much better than MP3 or other internet (compressed) formats. My current method for finding music is to surf through amazon, cdconnection and other music sites, and listen to short clips while reading about the artist and recording; if something sounds interesting Ill go to the artist's web site to hear longer excerpts.

Is there a better process?

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Are any of the services recommended above good for discovering music (as opposed to downloading or listening)? Do they let you quickly flip through different pieces? Do they suggest other artists who may be similar to ones you liked? For the radio stations mentioned: can you skip to the next song, or do you have to sit through every song, as with conventional radio?

[...]

Is there a better process?

I have discovered some good music through RadioParadise. One of the great advantages of internet radio over conventional radio is that computer programs usually display the names of the artist and of the song. However, internet radio stations do not typically give you any control or options to skip; they are not really any more interactive than conventional radio (although certain specific programs or services may have something that lets you skip through songs).

WinAmp offers on its website a selection of internet radio stations and a pretty long list of songs which you can listen to for free. A few of them are even good.

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DISCLAIMER: Please do NOT regard this as a personal advertisement!

I wanted to weigh in on this discussion from an artist's perspective. I think these legal downloading services are wonderful! I am signed up with a company that in turn represents artists & gets their music signed up with various downloading services. As of today, my music is available through 26 different services! Most of them pay artists between 60 & 75 cents per downloaded song (65 cents is the exact amount the majority of them pay). So as you can see if the buyer is paying 88 to 99 cents, a great deal of this cost goes to the artist. Which is of course (in my opinion :D ) absolutely fabulous!!!

This is an awesome deal for everyone involved as far as I can see. Just 10-15 years ago the only way an artist could get as wide a distribution network for their music to be sold was of course through "gatekeeper" record companies. I don't want to turn this into a rant against record companies (or stupid musicians for signing stupid contracts). But the current, & emerging, marketplace, is so much better than the old days of never getting more than 10% (IF you were a big artist & IF you had a decent contract) & usually 2 or 3 percent.

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Are any of the services recommended above good for discovering music (as opposed to downloading or listening)? Do they let you quickly flip through different pieces? Do they suggest other artists who may be similar to ones you liked? For the radio stations mentioned: can you skip to the next song, or do you have to sit through every song, as with conventional radio?

Both iTunes and Rhapsody make this very easy. Both will recommend specific artists to you; iTunes also has the added benefit of iMixes, so if you find another user who has similar taste to yours, you can browse through their playlist to see what else they like.

One of the greatest tools I've found for discovering new music (and I'll spend hours on end searching for new stuff) can be found here. You can enter in an artsit you like, and it will recommend a whole bunch of artists to you. The closer on the map the recommendation is to your entry, the more likely it is you will like it.

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Are any of the services recommended above good for discovering music (as opposed to downloading or listening)?

Is there a better process?

Rhapsody is very good for discovering new music. If you right-click on a track you get a list of options, including a link to Rhapsody's web page for the artist. There you will find links to all other tracks or songs that Rhapsody has for that particular artist or composer.

I've found many new artists and new recordings by artists that I admire through Rhapsody.

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