written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 1/18/2011
There is a variety of different music websites besides iTunes that provide both free and paid downloads. Some services are subscription based, while others are per song or album.
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One of the most popular music websites is Amazon. Songs are sold individually or by album. Most songs range in price from $.99 to $1.29, with albums averaging approximately $9.99. Amazon also offers a discount and free section. Many albums are offered for $5 or less, with a variety of songs and albums being offered for free. All you need to download music is an Amazon account, which is free, and a valid credit card. All songs downloaded from Amazon are DRM free.
Amazon uses a download manager to help you manage all your downloads and to download multiple files at once. You typically have 24 hours or less to download your purchases. However, you can contact Amazon in the event a song or album did not finish downloading, did not download correctly or your hard drive crashes to re-download music without being charged again.
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Rhapsody is a subscription based music download service. You can choose from two different plans. Rhapsody Premier allows you to listen to and download as much music as you want per month for $9.99. The only catch is you're limited to one mobile device or MP3 player. You also cannot keep the music unless you have an active subscription. For $14.99, you can place your music on up to 3 devices.
Rhapsody places a license on all files you download to your devices that checks to make sure your subscription remains active. If you cancel your membership, you can no longer listen to the music. The main benefit is the ability to listen to the entire Rhapsody catalog, which is extensive, for one flat rate per month. There are no fees per song or album.
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Zune Pass and Marketplace
The Zune Marketplace is similar to iTunes. You will need a Zune account or the Zune software, but the songs you download can be played on any MP3 player. Songs typically range from $.99 to $1.29, with most albums ranging from $7.99 to $11.99. Free songs and discounts are offered regularly. You are free to use the music however you want.
If you do not want to pay per song, you can purchase the Zune Pass, which is similar to Rhapsody. You can place songs on a single Zune device for a flat, monthly fee of $14.99. You can stream or download as much music as you want. You are allowed to keep 10 songs each month, license free. Even if you cancel your membership, your 10 monthly songs are yours to keep.
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Walmart is another of the per song music websites. Songs range in price from $.64 to $1.24. Albums typically cost around $9.99. Walmart has a wide range of artists and styles to choose from, all DRM free. All you need is a free account to download as much music as you want. One great feature of Walmart is exclusive content, such as original performances and special songs.
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If you prefer independent artists, or feel tired of mainstream music, eMusic may be the right fit for you. Though eMusic offers a good selection of the latest music, it's most popular for finding new and emerging artists.
All music from eMusic is DRM free. Many songs start at $.49. You must join and pay a monthly membership. The plan you purchase determines how many songs you can buy per month. If you don't use all available song credits, they expire. Plans start at $11.99 for 24 songs. You do get the benefit of exclusive tickets and discounts on music related events. New members receive either free songs or a cash credit to use.
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Unlike other music download sites, Jamendo offers thousands of songs for free. Songs and albums are uploaded by indie artists. This provides them with free advertising while they start their careers. Some indie artists continue to upload certain songs after becoming a mainstream artist.
Jamendo is also a social network. You can talk with the artists and other members. This gives you insight into the songs and artists you love. Membership is free and you can download as much as you want.
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All of the above sites are great sites to find music for your iPod or other music player. Not all sites offer DRM free music, but many do. If you want to use your music on multiple devices or burn them to CD, always check any music download website for licensing information. Don't feel that you are restricted in your download choices. With all the different music download websites, not iTunes, that are available, there is no reason not to download your favorite music.