Yesterday, most if not all of EMI tracks on the iTunes music store went DRM-free for $1.29. You can pay $.30 to convert your tracks from Fairplay AAC 128kbps to AAC 256 kbps. Since Apple keeps track of your purchases, after you download and install iTunes 7.2, you will be presented with a list of your tracks from EMI you purchased for $.99 and you’ll be asked if you want to upgrade/convert. Click YES and you get a second confirmation before the downloading begins.
There is a new additional choice – it will ask if from now on, if faced with a choice between a DRM track or a DRM-free track at $1.29, do you want the store just to list for you the DRM-free version. You’ll have a new setting in STORE>VIEW MY ACCOUNT (see below)
You can change back at anytime.
Of course, all along there were plenty of other choices for iPod owners to load tracks on their machines LEGALLY split between PAID stores and SOCIAL COMMUNITY sites. Just download the tracks and then drag into a PLAYLIST in iTunes. Takes a few seconds literally to load and sync with your iPod and of course, in a few weeks, your iPhone.
Emusic.com – 2nd largest online music store. Smallest plan is $9.99 gets you 30 tracks or about $.33 a track. 2-million tracks from 13,000 labels – they don’t have a lot of tracks from the major 4 labels but lots of interesting alternative, A3, classical & jazz.
Audio Lunchbox – also 2-million tracks from independent labels. They offer a ala-carte plan in addition to $9.99 for about 40 tracks. Most tracks are 1 credit but some apparently are more. If you like music outside of the top 40, check them or emusic.com out.
Beatport – They rep 3,000 dance labels and offer 320 kpbs tracks for $1.49, $1.99 or $2.49 for promo releases. You can choose mp3, mp4 or WAV.
DanceTracks Digital – another huge dance track site – tracks are 320 kpbs and around @1.39 a track.
MBop Megastore (UK) – Excellent online store with lots of unique, different and interesting tracks hard to find elsewhere – most mp3 tracks around $.99
DJMR Music – Another large & huge selection dance & DJ tracks online store – also 320 kbps & around $1.99 a track.
7 Digital – UK based, selling some EMI tracks at @$1 for 320kpbs mp3′s.
Bleep – Lots of brand name indie tracks & labels. @$1.35 a track.
PayPlayFM – Just launched. 1.3 million indie artist Mp3 tracks at $.88 each – 192 kbps. Ignore the FAQ, that was for their subscription WMA service.
Digital Other Music – nice looking selection of indie music. Tracks @$1.11, full CD’s @$9.99 – 320 kbps Mp3′s.
Mp3Tunes – also represents thousands of indie & alternative artists and sells every track in mp3 format. $.88 a track at 192 kpbs. Only note of caution – their front page says 2005 – site looks current and seems to function okay but are they asleep at the switch?
eClassical – the largest classical music online store. All tracks available as 192kpbs mp3’s – @$.49 to $.99 a track.
Smithsonian Global Sounds – Traditional music from artists all over the world – other than Mp3, you can also buy tracks in the FLAC format.
MagnaTune – Unique, the artists gets exactly half of what you’re willing to pay … it seems most every track is available in MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC or AAC – or you can buy the CD for @$5 more than the download.
AmieStreet – Even more unique, tracks start as free – the more popular the artist/track is, the higher in cost it goes so don’t get in one the ground floor – get it the basement!
EarBuzz – Tops them all? Artists make 100%.
Mouzika – World artists $.99 a track – WMA or Mp3.
IslandBeats – specializes in Polynesian music from the islands of the Pacific. $.99 a track.
Wippit.com – a UK company (don’t worry, they accept the USD – they offer subscription based (like emusic) along with individual tracks. They seem to offer some unusual tracks so it might be worth your while to take a look.
Starzik (France) – Not positive you can order from site from US but the allure is you’re not paying $27.99 for a legal CD … of course with dollar losing to Euro, tracks start at around 2€ and go up from there.
MusicIsHere – Indie artists – large selection – also offers a wide variety of format choices for $.99 – MP3, MPEG4-AAC, MPC, OGG VORBIS, WMA, FLAC.
Alternative Addiction – indie bands. Mp3 CD’s & singles – plus lots of free tracks for downloading.
Nervous Records – Rockabilly – huge selection. $.99 mp3′s.
MusicTradebit – indie tracks, 128kpbs $.99
Easy-Listen.com – The site could use a re-design but it offers an interesting selection of bossa novas, easy listening and chill out tracks. Only thing now at €.99 Euro, prices have essentially doubled since the $ has dropped in value.
IntroMusic – UK based, 256kbps MP3 format for 59p or 79p – this might be a good place for those hot new UK bands.
Interia – Poland site, okay for US buyers? Not sure – look like around $.90 converted for a track.
QTRNote – Indie artists $.99 a track – also offers music licensing for other media.
Rhythm Records (South Africia) – Not a huge site but nice looking and well, where else will you find an mp3 site selling South African music? About $.85 USD a track.
GreatIndieMusic – well, not sure how great the tracks are but it is indie music at $.99 a track.
SoundFoundation Australia – Indie music Australia, not all tracks seem to be available as an Mp3 but those that are @$.90.
RuleRadio – Mp3 $.99, indie artists.
FREE TRACKS at SOCIAL COMMUNITIES
Jamendo – 35,074 tracks from talented artists, for free! You can donate if you wish.
SXSW Festival – Most bands performing there this year offered a free track or two. Any artist with the cassette icon means there is a track available.
MySpace.com is of course, sprawling – they claim 1+ million bands – so that would make 3+ million tracks available for downloading. Some formats vary but the #1 format are mp3’s. MySpace has talked about opening an online music store but nothing yet.
CTG Music – one of the oldest electronica communities – tons of free tracks and links to thousands of DJ’s and artists.
DMusic – another longtime music community with thousands of interesting and new artists.
InternetDJ – another huge collection of new electronica artists, not the greatest page design – some tracks are only for sale but most are downloadable.
SoundClick – Don’t be fooled by it’s under-designed front page, there are links to hundreds of thousands of bands and tracks.
CNET Download.com – They offer 75,000 free mp3′s by thousands of artists. The site is oddly designly (probably because it’s designed to serve ads first, which is fine but could use a major re-think) so you do have to slog through a lot of menus to find it but once you get there, it’s nice.
Free Kid’s Music – not exactly a community, more like a collective but a nice collection of kid’s music.
Hybridized.org – legal collection of DJ sets.
iSound – Artists community, stream, download, etc …
Sublime Archives – From the band, Sublime – a small community of the bands (friends, etc …) with links to downloads.
SonicGarden – music community site – I couldn’t get mp3 tracks to play correctly.
VIRB – Artist community – not all music but all bands offer some sort of download.
Pure Volume – music/band community.
Trig – New community with band section/
AOL, yes, that AOL …
Mp3.com Australia – Australia musicians, bands & tracks.
MUSIC BLOGS – LINKS/REVIEWS OF LEGAL MP3′s
Fluxblog.org – A blog with reviews of the best FREE mp3’s on the internet – all okayed and posted by artists THEMSELVES. Excellent writing and fun tracks.
The Crutch Blog is no more but the roundup of legal tracks from artist sites is still around here.
MP3 4U – Good roundup of free tracks from all over.
Better Propaganda – some streaming only. Mostly electronica.
Knobtweakers – focuses on electronica music with intros and links to new bands and artists.
Salon mag – you have to sign in or listen to an ad but some great tracks from well known artists. Well worth the extra time spent.
MFiles – A massive review and over-view site for classical and instrumental music. They offer a nice selection of mp3 tracks (and also midi files).
Ubu – Interesting collection of non-mainstream tracks for your iPod (some audio tracks).
Playlist Mag – while not exactly a blog, Playlist mag’s roundup and recommendations of free tracks.
iLounge – the brilliant all things iPod site, they have partnered with a few other sites to link/bring you free tracks.
Virually every smaller record label (um, that sells CD’s) offer a handful of Mp3’s to download. I’m not going to list all of them but some interesting ones to check out include:
Matador Records Matador has some great artists so it’s a good place to start.
Comfort Stand – indie label closed but all tracks still posted and available online FREE.
Telarc – free tracks, some classical.
Sonic Squirrel – has done a nice job of rounding up every obscure label on the net (or planet) with links to their tracks. Very obscure stuff so if you only want completely off-th-beaten path tracks …
Oddio Overplay – in case you want the obscure of the obscure, Oddio offers several hundred more sites.
itunes Free Tracks – Roundup from It’s Free Downloads … though keep in mind these have DRM tied to your account.
And like any other lists about the internet, I’m not claiming this is complete but it will be enough to keep you busy for a long while. I also did not include those that fall into a mix of legal & not so-legal tracks like Webjay.