Alabama's Public Liberal Arts University

Technology Services

Guide to Internet Music Services

 

Downloading music from file-sharing networks such as Kazaa, Morpheus and Gnutella is becoming increasingly risky.  In addition to the possibility of severe penalties for illegally reproducing copyrighted materials, file-sharing networks are known to be havens for viruses, trojans and other forms of malicious software.

In order to promote the safe, legal downloading of internet music by UM students, the Technology Services Help Desk has compiled a list of some of the more popular legal music download sites.  Students, as well as faculty and staff, are encouraged to consider utilizing these legal sources for online music as an alternative to the file-sharing networks.

There are many more music download sites than those listed below, and not all are legitimate.  Technology Services does not endorse any particular music download service, and while we have attempted to identify selections that have good reputations, you should always exercise caution when shopping on the internet.

NOTE: All information below was current as of September 2005.  Any details, particularly those regarding pricing schemes, are subject to change at any time by the music download site.

Apple’s iTunes

eMusic

WalMart

Napster

Other Online Music Services

 

Apple’s iTunes 
www.apple.com/itunes

2,000,000 songs available

Cost:
An average of $0.99 per song or as little as $9.99 per album.

Format:
Songs are downloaded in Apple proprietary AAC format.

Notes:
Apple has more songs available than any other service, and its AAC format provides excellent sound quality.  On the down side, songs you download from iTunes can only be played via the iTunes software (available via free download).  The only portable device that can play the tracks you download from Apple is Apple’s iPod.  iTunes also restricts the number of times you can burn a play-list to CD.

 

eMusic 
www.emusic.com

600,000+ songs available

Cost:
Monthly subscription plans start at $9.99 for 40 downloads; a free trial is available to all new users.

Format:
MP3

Notes:
No restrictions are placed on the music you download from eMusic.  Their tracks can be played by any MP3 player.  On the downside, you pay the monthly subscription fee whether you download 40 songs or not.

 

Napster 
www.napster.com

1,000,000 songs available

Cost:
Usually $0.99 per song or albums start at $6.95.  You can also get  a monthly subscription to their unlimited music streaming service for $9.95.

Format:
WMA (Windows Media)

Notes:
Napster has a huge catalog of music, rivaling iTunes and MusicMatch.  As with Apple, Napster’s proprietary software is required for downloading and streaming.

 

WalMart 
www.walmart.com

800,000 + songs available

Cost:
All songs are $0.88.  Albums range from $8.80 to $9.44.

Format:
WMA (Windows Media)

Notes:
No proprietary software is required to download songs.  On the downside, Wal-Mart offers no Mac or Linux support.

 

Other Online Music Services 

Here are a few of the smaller, more content-specialized music download services:

Audible
www.audible.com
Spoken word only

Bleep
www.bleep.com
 Focuses on electronica

eFolkMusic
www.efolkmusic.org
Folk music

LiveDownloads
www.livedownloads.com
Live performances and albums

 

Last updated June 2010