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11 music download sites compared

DRM-free digital downloads

Is DRM dead? As more and more music sites sell unrestricted tracks, PC Advisor investigates the best places to download your favourite tunes.

Amazon MP3

Click here to visit Amazon MP3

The online retail giant first launched its online music store in the US over a year ago, but the DRM-free service was only made available to UK web users in November. Pitching itself in direct competition with iTunes, this service is a strong contender for Apple's crown as the most popular music download service.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out once iTunes' DRM-free rollout is complete.

The ace that Amazon holds is price. At launch, the majority of offerings from British artists in the UK album chart, including Leona Lewis and Take That, were priced at £3, in comparison with iTunes' standard £7.99. A good number of albums can still be picked up on Amazon MP3 for that low price.

On the whole, Amazon MP3's album prices are lower than iTunes'. Dig deeper and prices sometimes level out, however. At the time of writing, ‘The Sound of The Smiths' cost £7.99 on iTunes and £6.97 on Amazon MP3, but the Deluxe version was 20p cheaper on iTunes at £11.99.

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We also found some individual tracks following iTunes' pricing scheme at 79p. And, like iTunes, Amazon restricts some (usually longer) tracks to album-only sales.

Amazon MP3 makes its downloads available at a bitrate of 256 kilobits per second (Kbps), which Apple is now matching after years of delivering files at inferior 128Kbps quality.

But what really separates Amazon MP3 from most of its rivals is the fact that none of its content is hobbled by DRM. You can play songs and transfer files on to whatever device you like. Apple is still working on allowing users to do that.

NEXT PAGE: Amie Street

Music downloads index:

  1. DRM-free digital downloads
  2. Amazon MP3
  3. Amie Street
  4. Apple iTunes
  5. Audio Lunchbox
  6. Bleep
  7. CD Baby
  8. eMusic
  9. Jamendo
  10. LiveDownloads
  11. Napster
  12. 7Digital
  13. Limewire Store

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