My Little Corner of the Net

Digital Music

I’ve always been a far of buying CDs over downloading music. It is partly because I’m often not very good about backing up my computer files and I fear loosing my music collection, partly because I haven’t wanted to give up valuable space on my computer for storing those files, and partly because I’ve always liked the portability of having CDs—I can use them in my car, with my portable CD player, my home stereo, office radio, computer—where ever.

Now that I have an iPod that’s capable of holding more music than I know what to do with I’m starting to rethink my reason for buying CDs. Storage these days is dirt cheap and its not hard at all to back up my digital files to CD or DVD. The iPod is even more portable than carrying around CDs and I can access all of my music at any time—not just the 10 or so CDs I decided to take with me. Plus, with digital downloads I can buy just the tracks I want. Several of my CDs have songs I don’t really ever listen to anyway. Downloads are generally a little cheaper, too–iTunes, for example sells, full albums for $9.99 vs. $13-$20 for a CD.

Of course, with downloads you don’t get the album art, lyrics, and bonus features that you get with the CD, but how important is that, really?

So now the big question is “what’s the right music service for me?” There are several options:

  • iTunes—which works seemlessly with my iPod and has no monthly fees, but I can only sample songs before buying. When I play I song I got from iTunes on the iPod I get to see the album cover on my color screen (cool but not necessary), but iTunes uses a propriatary format with DRM, so it is hard to use the files with anything except the iPod.
  • Napster—the original file sharing network, with access to unlimited downloads and online play for a monthly fee. I haven’t used it since it went “for pay,” so I don’t know how well it works these days. Napster offers a 7 day free trial, then it is $7.99-$14.99 a month after that.
  • CDigix CTrax is a service offered throuh RIT for studnets, faculty, and staff. The cost is $5.99/month for unlimited Windows Media DRM-enforced downloads and 89 cents per song for MP3s.
  • EMusic offers a 50 free download trial, after which they charge various montly fees, depending on how many downloads you expect to make–starting at $9.99 for 40 downloads.

So what’s best? I have no idea. I’m thinking about signing for for a few trials and going from there. I’ll post my findings right here.

Did I miss your favorite service? Any mentioned that I should avoid? LEave a comment and let me know.

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