Online music store

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An online music store is an Internet service that sells audio, usually primarily music, on a per-song and/or subscription basis. The realization of the market for these services grew widespread around the time of Napster, a music and file sharing service created by Shawn Fanning that made a major impact on the Internet scene during the year 2000. Some services have tethered downloads, meaning that playing songs requires an active membership.

In 2000 Sony became the first company to make music from one of the major labels available for sale on the Net. The big record companies were apprehensive to license their catalogs to outside companies and refused the late 90's requests of MP3.com and Emusic (then called Goodnoise) to sell digital song downloads. They eventually decided to start their own services, which they could control directly.

Unfortunately, Sony's service turned out to be an ill-conceived affair. Not only was the service difficult for consumers to navigate and use, Sony's expensive pricing of US$3.50 per song track turned off many early adopters of the service. Furthermore, as MP3 Newswire pointed out in its review of the service, users were actually only renting the tracks for that $3.50. After a certain point the files expired and could not be played again without repurchase. The service quickly failed.

Undaunted, the record industry tried again. Universal Music Group and Sony teamed up with a service called Duet, later renamed PressPlay. EMI, AOL/Time Warner and BMG teamed up with MusicNet. Again, both services struggled, hampered by high prices and heavy limitations on how downloaded files could be used once paid for. In the end, consumers chose instead to flock to the free file sharing programs, which were far more convenient to use and free to boot.

Non-label services like Emusic and Listen.com (http://www.listen.com/) (now Rhapsody.com) sold the music of independent artists to keep in the game, but it wasn't until Apple Computer introduced iTunes in 2003 that sales of digital downloads took off.

Contents

Compared to file swapping

Much controversy surrounds this issue, so many or perhaps all of these points are disputed.

Advantages

  • More respectful to copyright law as interpreted by groups like the RIAA.
    • Decreases chances of legal disadvantages.
    • Avoids some social stigmas and moral regrets that some people have.
    • Arguably promotes creation of music.
  • More consistent and higher quality meta-data, because the entering of the meta-data is more centralized and done by groups with financial interests.
  • Companies sometimes feel more accountable to users than other users.
  • Higher audio quality for similar reasons as meta-data.

Disadvantages

  • Decreased selection, because of more attention paid to copyright concerns.
  • Increased price.
    • Some file swapping advocates claim that music stores charge an infinite number of times more because of division by zero complications.
    • Notably Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs claimed in his introduction of the iTunes Music Store that file swappers get paid less than minimum wage for the work required to download audio.
  • Digital Rights Management sometimes irritates consumers. The restrictions vary with the service sometimes within songs of a service.
  • Doesn't support record labels. Criticisms of record labels include overpricing, monopolies, and lack of support for artists.

Stores

Along with those mentioned, companies such as Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and Coca-Cola have plans for paid services as well.

Audible.com

iTunes Music Store

See iTunes Music Store.

  • Pricing: One set price for songs (e.g. 99 cents in the US); most albums cost $9.99 in the US. Prices vary depending on the country where the user is registered.
  • Platform(s): Mac OS X (not Mac OS Classic), Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
  • Downloading: Yes.
  • Burning/Copying: Yes.
  • Streaming: Not for purchase, only for previews.
  • Radio: Yes (built into iTunes).
  • Format: AAC @ 128 kbit/s.
  • Digital Rights Management: Up to five computers, unlimited CDs (seven with an unchanged playlist), unlimited iPods (formerly three computers, and ten unchanged playlist burns).
  • Preview: 30 seconds.
  • Trial: N/A.
  • Catalog: More than 1,000,000 files; includes audio books; (originally iTMS contained about 200,000 files).
  • Features: Allowance, gift certificates, iMix (user-submitted playlists), Billboard charts, radio charts, advanced search, music videos and movie trailers.
  • Global availability: US, Germany, France, UK, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Canada and Ireland addressed credit-card holders only.

Rhapsody (formerly Listen.com)

See Rhapsody.

  • Pricing: Subscription
  • Platform(s): Windows 98 and later
  • Downloading: Extra cost
  • Burning/Copying: Extra cost
  • Streaming: Unlimited with All Access Plan
  • Radio: Unlimited
  • Format(s): Windows Media (proprietary)
  • Digital Rights Management:
  • Preview: 30 seconds
  • Trial: 7 days
  • Catalog: 20,000 albums; 9,000 artists
  • Features:

AllOfMP3.com

See AllOfMP3.com.

  • Pricing: By traffic - 10 US dollar for 1 gigabyte
  • Platform(s): any (Microsoft Windows for AllOfMP3.com Explorer utility)
  • Downloading: Unlimited
  • Burning/Copying: Unlimited
  • Streaming: Samples
  • Radio: No
  • Format(s): MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Windows Media, MPEG-4, MPC, various lossless audio codecs
  • Digital Rights Management: None
  • Preview: Full-length at 24 kbit/s
  • Trial: -
  • Catalog: about 200,000 songs
  • Features: Guestbook for each artist, lyrics, charts, advanced search

eMusic.com

See eMusic.

  • Pricing: Subscription
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux
  • Downloading: Basic package is $9.99 per month for 40 downloads ($.25 a song) with Plus and Premium packages offering more downloads per month.
  • Burning/Copying: Unlimited
  • Streaming: No
  • Radio: No
  • Format(s): MP3
  • Digital Rights Management: No, impossible with MP3
  • Preview: 30 seconds
  • Trial: 50 MP3s
  • Catalog: Over 600,000 songs
  • Features: eMusic claims its songs will play on any digital media player, including Apple's iPod.

Magnatune

See Magnatune.

  • Pricing: Per-album: $5 minimum, customer's choice
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux
  • Downloading: Yes
  • Burning/Copying: Yes
  • Streaming: Yes
  • Radio: Yes
  • Format(s) [1] (http://lists.magnatune.com/read/messages?id=573156):
    • 44k/16bit WAV in zip file
    • FLAC in zip file
    • OGG in zip file
    • 128kb MP3 in zip file
    • MP3 VBR in zip file
    • CDs
  • Digital Rights Managment: No
  • Preview: Entire song, 128k MP3
  • Trial: N/A
  • Catalog: 174 artists, 326 albums, 4176 songs [2] (http://magnatune.com/info/stats/)

MusicNet

See MusicNet.

  • Pricing: Subscription
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows with AOL
  • Downloading: Yes, tethered
  • Burning/Copying: Premium Plan only
  • Streaming: Yes
  • Radio: No
  • Format(s):
  • Digital Rights Management: Yes
  • Preview: 30 seconds
  • Trial: 30 days with AOL sign-up
  • Catalog: 250,000 songs
  • Features:

BuyMusic

See BuyMusic.

  • Pricing: Cost per download: 79 cents-$1.29 per song
  • Platform(s): Windows 98 and later
  • Downloading: Yes
  • Burning/Copying: Yes
  • Streaming: No
  • Radio: No
  • Format(s): Windows Media
  • Digital Rights Management: Yes
  • Preview: 30 seconds
  • Trial: N/A
  • Catalog: 304,000 songs
  • Features:

pressplay

See pressplay. pressplay has rights to the name Napster, despite costing money.

  • Pricing: Subscription
  • Platform(s): Windows 2000, Windows XP
  • Downloading: Unlimited tethered, extra cost for non-tethered
  • Burning/Copying: Extra cost
  • Streaming: Unlimited
  • Radio: Unlimited
  • Format(s): Windows Media
  • Digital Rights Management: Yes
  • Preview: 30 seconds
  • Trial: 3 days
  • Catalog: 300,000 songs
  • Features:

Musicmatch Downloads (aka Dell Music Store)

See Musicmatch Downloads.

  • Pricing: Subscription
  • Platform(s): Windows 98 and later, Mac OS
  • Downloading: No
  • Burning/Coping: No
  • Streaming: Platinum Plan only
  • Radio: Unlimited
  • Format(s): Streaming MP3
  • Digital Rights Management: No downloads, streaming only
  • Preview: N/A
  • Trial: 7 days
  • Catalog: 10,500 artists
  • Features:

MP3.com

See MP3.com.

  • Pricing:
  • Platform(s):
  • Downloading:
  • Burning/Coping:
  • Streaming:
  • Radio:
  • Format(s):
  • Digital Rights Management:
  • Preview:
  • Trial:
  • Catalog:
  • Features:

Rin.ru Mp3 Music Collection

http://3mp3.ru/eng/

  • Pricing:
  • Platform(s):
  • Downloading:
  • Burning/Coping:
  • Streaming:
  • Radio:
  • Format(s):
  • Digital Rights Management:
  • Preview:
  • Trial:
  • Catalog:
  • Features:

Pricing

Per-song

By volume

Subscription

Platform

Linux

Macintosh

Windows

External links

http://mp3.about.com/od/wheretobuymusic/a/all_profile.htm

de:Online-Musikdienst

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