When it comes to digital audio files, there's no three words more guaranteed to start a firey debate than Digital Rights Management. One of the biggest complaints about music purchased from online giants like Apple's iTunes is that those stores (largely) encumber tracks with digital rights management (DRM) software that restricts how and where you play the music you purchase.
So what's a music lover to do if they want to acquire tunes digitally? Though iTunes has begun selling DRM-free music and is rumoured to be dropping DRM completely, most of its selections still remain protected. Other music stores, such as the recently launches AmazonMP3, are starting to go DRM-free, a sign that the music industry is finally listening to customers.
but you don't have to wait for the big stores to join the DRM-free revolution.
We've compiled a list of our ten favourite online music stores that offer huge selections of DRM-free music at reasonable prices. Even better, these songs are sold in formats compatible with iPods as well as most other portable audio devices.
Looking to do your music and audio books shopping in one place? This subscription-based music store offers a broad selection of indie music and audio books in MP3 format. In fact, it is the world's largest retailer of independent music and the world's second-largest digital music retailer overall offering over 3.5 million tracks and more than 2000 audio book titles.
You can also access editorials by eMusic's team of music experts, recommendations, and member playlists. eMusic's subscription programme allows you to download a certain number of MP3s per month for a flat rate. For example, 30 downloads per month costs £10.99 per month, and 50 songs is £11.99 per month. Hate the service? Cancel anytime and the music is still yours to keep.
The online retail giant was the first music store to sell DRM-free MP3s from the Big Four - EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and Sony BMG. Browsing through Amazon MP3's selection can be annoying - the interface is at times unwieldy and obtuse - but Amazon has some fantastic deals. For example, a number of Top 20 albums are priced at just £3. Individual songs vary from 59p to £2.89, while whole albums range from £3 to £8.99.
Next Page: Jamendo, Amie Street and Napster
- The online stores that are cheap and DRM-free
- Jamendo, Amie Street and Napster
- LiveDownloads, Bleep and CDBaby
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