eMusic vs allofmp3 vs iTunes

Legal free music download service eMusic launched in the UK last week, offering tracks free of digital rights managements (DRM). I don’t know what will happen to allofmp3.com in September so I thought I’d take advantage of eMusic’s free 25 track trial. Although eMusic is pricier and almost certainly has a smaller catalogue, I searched for a couple of moderately popular jazz musicians as a test of the kind of music I’d want to buy.

iTunes allofmp3.com eMusic
Price per track 79p $0.05 approx 17p-23p
No of Stacey Kent Albums 5 2 5
No of Humphrey Lyttelton Albums 3 0 1
Format 128k AAC Almost anything VBR MP3

iTunes has the edge still in terms of ease of use, but has two drawbacks: price and DRM. 79p per track for downloads still makes lots of albums more expensive than buying on CD, and although the DRM is unobtrusive, and fine if (like me) you have an iPod, music you buy you should be able to keep when you move to different hardware/software.

eMusic is still easy to use with a nicely designed website and (this is where it has an edge over other competitors) it has a download manager available for Windows and Mac which is easy to install, configure and use. And although its subscription model is expensive for the occasional buyer, with albums costings around £3 the prices will suit regular downloaders.

I don’t know whether I will subscribe after the trial, but on first showing I’m tempted. Incidentally, if you are considering joining, email me and let me recommend it to you. I’m wouldn’t actually recommend it (yet), but if you’re going to join anyway, there’s 50 free downloads in it for me, so why not? And, incidentally, if you do get some Humph, the album common to both eMusic and iTunes, Georgia Mae, which I hadn’t heard of, has a distinctly groovy New Badpenny Blues, guaranteed to annoy the traditionalists and very enjoyable.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

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