Downloading music... legally?

What’s the best service to use for downloading music? I know Napster gives you temporary access to tons of stuff, but that goes away when you stop paying them. I ask this because my special lady wants to download music to play on her Sony Bean thingamagic, and I don’t want her getting me sued.

What evil DRM does it support? You’ll need to match that if you want to use any of the major services.

Otherwise you can use Not as wide as a selection, but no DRM.

It uses that crazy Sony shit. Sonicstage or something

I’ve been using eMusic for about a month, and I’m pretty happy with it. You get to keep the songs permanently, they’re in mp3 format with variable bitrate between 128-190ish, and best of all, each song costs $0.25. The downside is that the selection is rather limited. It has most of the big indie-rock bands (like Sleater-Kinney, Fugazi, or whatever the kids listen to these days), and a decent classical music selection with labels like Naxos. If you want to listen to the latest release from a major label, though, you’d probably need something else.

Another quirk of the site is that you sign up to buy 20 or 40 songs per month, instead of buying them individually. It hasn’t mattered to me yet, since the per song price is so cheap, and having a few extra downloads to burn means I can try out random stuff.

I’ve used eMusic for a while, too. I always seem to find something more to
refresh my subscription for. !

Napster hides the MP3 players that support its “Napster to Go” service here.

Rhapsody (another DRM music subscription service) links to their compatible devices off the front page, here.

No Sony’s.

Does that count as legal? :)

emusic for me, been a member (off & on) since back when they were ‘all you can eat’.

If your lady is into electronica then also check out and, both DRM free.

Use bittorrent then buy the cd if you like it. That’s about as close as I’ll get to legal downloaded music. As soon as they get their act together about compatibility, availability selection, price, and most especially DRM restrictions I’ll be more than happy to play along. Til then, I’ll demand a hard copy to do with as I see fit.

I really think it depends on your music habits. If you are just going to rip your CD catalog, you obviously don’t need a music service. But once you want to go beyond what you already own, things get tricky.

My general advice when I’m asked about this is to ask yourself: are you going to download more than 180 songs on iTunes in a year? If so, it makes more fiscal sense to get Napster or another subscription service.

Some people are bothered by the idea that you don’t “own” that music. Personally, what I love most about Napster is that if your computer were to get thrown out of a window, land on the street, bounce into the sewer and float away into the ocean, your collection is still safe. You simply activate another computer and redownload your collection. In fact, you can keep your collection on mulitple computers.

Basically, I can’t imagine true audiophiles going for anything other than a subscription service.

The ones I’ve tried: Napster, Rhapsody and Urge.

Of the three - IF your device is compatible - I highly recommend Rhapsody. If not, try Urge and Napster make your pick from there.

Well, they’re good for music discovery, and just pulling up stuff you’d never want to own, but the bigger and more diverse your music collection is, the less you’d probably want a service like this. Although it is nice to have essentially a huge jukebox anywhere you have an internet connection.

I’d place Napster above Rhapsody for the sole reason that you can cancel Napster at any time (sort of like an MMO) while Rhapsody does that “call up our retention representative so he can fuck with you” bullshit.

I can’t imagine a “true audiophile” going for any of that subscription or iTunes junk.

Doubtful a true audiophile is going to be using a computer as part of the audio chain at all.

I’ve tried several of the subscription services, based around which one currently gets throught the firewall at work. I really liked musicmatch’s, but hate their software with a passion. Trying out rhapsody right now, which seems to have a pretty good selection. It’s not so good at suggestions, which musicmatch did very well at.

Ok, thank you for the advice.

I don’t know exactly what to get, but I know more, and I know one thing for sure. Saying “true audiophile,” on this forum is almost as taboo as asking for sympathy.

Can I get some sympathy for using the phrasing “true audiophile”?

I’d also recommend everyone try if they’re interested in hearing new music. Basically, each song is tagged in different and sometimes incredibly precise ways “rock, punk, ska, 70s funk, long guitar solor, etc.”

When you type in a song or an artist, the service scans those songs or artists, compares the tags on their music to other artists and spits out some matches.

I don’t recall if it was mentioned here before but Universal Music is teaming up with a company named SpiralFrog to offer free music downloads starting sometime around the end of the year. The article lists a few technical restrictions on it, the most notable one being it’s not iPod formatted music (of course, many here will cheer that). Other restrictions make it sound like Napster (you have to re-register to keep the music live, inability to burn it to CD). I read somewhere that SpiralFrog is trying to get other companies to sign on to this idea.

I would also recommend the site Audio Lunchbox for emusic type music, but with iTunes like pricing. 192 kbps VBR mp3s, and they include album artwork…