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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.

Apple iTunes

apple.com/itunes

Apple has now abandoned its FairPlay DRM technology in iTunes, which digitally encrypted AAC audio files and prevented users from playing these files on unauthorised computers. Songs from Amazon MP3 can be used with any MP3 player and most music-enabled mobile phones. iTunes tracks won't play on many devices other than the iPod and iPhone.

In terms of the interface and ease of use, iTunes has the edge. It's an application in its own right; it manages your music and is very easy to navigate. Amazon MP3, meanwhile, is an online-based store with a clunkier navigation and search facility that requires you to download the Amazon MP3 Downloader application.

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iTunes offers far more than just music: podcasts, TV programmes, movies and music videos are all available from its store. A quick scan showed series of 'Lost' and '24', 'The Dark Knight' (to buy or rent), videos from Lily Allen and Girls Aloud and Stephen Fry's ‘Podgrams'. And, while Amazon MP3 claims to be constantly adding to its four-million-strong catalogue, as the daddy of the bunch iTunes has already got a huge range of files.

It's impossible to search for every artist on every music download site here, but Amazon MP3 was notable for its omission of Sweden's excellent The Embassy and Danish band Efterklang. iTunes has far more variety, although neither store offers music by digital refuseniks The Beatles or AC/DC.

NEXT PAGE: Audio Lunchbox

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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