04.Paid Music Download Providers
Every recent major music release, and many classics, can be bought online to be downloaded at will as an MP3, the most used file format for music. The advantages are obvious. Once purchased, the file can be downloaded and copied to all your devices without restriction. Should the file be deleted or lost, it can always be downloaded again. But keep in mind that it is not legal to distribute the music that you purchased to others, especially not via commercial means.
One disadvantage of this is that it’s uncomfortable and confusing for those who buy individual songs or albums to find out where they are cheaper. Wanting to download a song and having to go through different accounts to find where and if you purchased it can be another pain. It is easier to pick one distributor and pay the extra dollar for the comfort of having one central music library. But this creates another problem: Once a single distributor has been chosen and a number of songs purchased, the discomfort of changing to another service might be too high, even if that other service is objectively better. iTunes users have it particularly hard because the service comes with its own file format and digital rights management. It is common for consumers to choose the next type of cell phone they buy by which store they have invested in previously, which is why sticking to a single distributor, especially one connected to a certain hardware brand, can be limiting. The easiest way is to try out the trials that some of these services offer to get to know the service better, before deciding whether you are subscribing to them or not. But first let us take a look at some services and facts:
||$ 9.99 monthly
||$ 9.99 monthly
||$ 4.99 monthly
$ 54.89 annually
|$ 8.99 monthly
$ 99 annually
||No, Only Offline mode
||Pay by Song possible
||Pay by Song possible
For up to 5 family members
For up to 6 family members
|No family sharing
||No family sharing
||No student discount
||6 month trial and 50% off
The streaming music sector is a highly competitive place, where every once in a while new platforms emerge or current ones have to leave. Therefore strong competitors tend to stand out. One of the strongest and probably one that you recognize is Spotify. Spotify is a streaming service that gives you instant und unlimited access to a huge music library (over 20 million songs). It offers a free and a premium version. The premium version is subscription based and costs $ 9.99 per month and includes additional features like no ads, listening to songs before they are released (awesome!), having the lyrics directly at hand and making songs and playlists available for offline use. Both, the free and the paid service, offer more great features, like the song radio that creates a playlist for you on the basis of a song of your choice and the ability to favorite songs that you liked, create playlists and share them with friends, even over Facebook. Due to these features and its great library Spotify established itself as one of the major platforms for music.
You can access your songs and albums through your web browser or the Spotify app that is available for almost any desktop and mobile device. The Spotify application is lightweight, fast and easy to use and understand. Keeping your music synced on all devices at all time is one of its major strengths. Another one is the fact that you can upload all your local music to your Spotify account, thus creating one central library for all your collection. The content is streamed in pretty decent sound (320Kbps). Moreover you can make single songs, albums or even whole playlists available for offline usage. However, that does not mean that you downloaded the songs and that is an important disadvantage of Spotify. It downloads the songs in an unconventional format so that you can only listen to them through the Spotify App. And if you interrupt your subscription, you will not be able to listen to your songs offline anymore, even if you have made them available before. It is true that you can still listen to them with the free version, which includes annoying ads and banners, but you do not really own the songs even if you pay your monthly fee.
Spotify offers the option to listen to your music offline. It downloads the songs and playlist that you have chosen, while you are connected to the internet and makes it able to listen to it anytime and anywhere but only on that device. The way the songs are saved is rather unconventional. You can’t distribute the music to other devices, but you could download the Spotify App on them, too and it keeps your music synced. Downloads? No. Offline mode? Yes.
While Spotifys vast selection of music (of any genre that you could think of) and the many different features are big advantages, we still recommend trying out the free version or the trial of Spotify Premium. Moreover, you should always keep in mind that you have to have a subscription to listen to your music without an internet connection. You will not be able to move your music collections and playlists from one device to another, but if you have the application on those devices it will sync them for you anyways. All in all Spotify Premium is a great service that offers instant and unlimited access to almost all your favorite songs and great features that you help you find even more favorite songs. And if you do not care that your music is only available over Spotify and that you do not really own it, Spotify Premium is the thing for you.
Apple Music is a rather new service that was founded in June 2015. It contains more than 30 million songs, Beats 1 live DJ radio and all the music you may have purchased over iTunes in the last years. It comes preinstalled on all iOS devices with at least iOS 8.4 and replaces the default music player on them, but is also available for Android and Windows devices. With its massive library, the great voice control through the virtual assistant Siri, the Beats 1 live DJ and all its other features Apple Music mixes up to a great and partly unmatched service. In contrast to other streaming services, Apple Music does not only build on algorithms but also on humans to give recommendation and create individual collections and playlsits.
On the other side all these features jammed in one service provide a rather confusing and crammed interface and application. You could try out the 3-month free trial to check if Apple Music fits your needs, but unfortunately there is no free plan that you could use to try it out for a longer period and get used to it before signing up for the $ 9.99 per month subscription or the $ 14.99 family plan for up to six users. Usually Apple keeps its products exclusive for its devices, but due to the strong and numerous competitors Apple Music was made available on many non-Apple devices, too.
Similar to Spotify and other streaming services, you will be able to listen to your music offline, but you will not really be allowed to download it and distribute it to your other devices, like one usually does with MP3 files. If you import all the downloaded music that you already own, do no delete it from your hard drive, because if you stop using Apple Music you will not be able to download it from there.
If you already own an Apple Device, have already purchased and downloaded music via iTunes and are ready to pay a monthly fee, we recommend the use of Apple Music. Apple offers a huge music library that easily beats other providers and features that do not leave anything to be desired. But it seems like the app does not well in foreign environments (its Android Store rating is 3 stars from 5) and the interface seem overloaded and may be quite confusing, even for Apple Users.
Pandora is arguable one of the greatest competitors of Spotify and other similar services that dominate the industry (at least in the US). Contrary to other music streaming services Pandora does not solely relate on algorithm when recommending new music or artists to their users. They mostly relate on socializing. Based on your preferences they look for other users that listen to the same or similar music and then recommend to you what others have also listened to. Moreover it offers highly customizable radio stations adapted to specific music types.
Despite the fact that Pandora is one of the most recognized names of the industry it has some pretty serious downsides. One big disadvantage is the fact that it is technically an online radio. You will not be able to download music or listen to it offline. Another big advantage is the fact that you do not have unlimited skips (even with the premium version). Thus you can’t skip as much songs as you would like to skip.
Some other features are displaying of lyrics, the creation of customized radio stations which play music from chosen artists and sharing and publishing of these radio stations. If you are annoyed by the advertisement you can change to the paid pan that costs noticeably less than other similar services. The biggest and maybe only downside may be that you will not be able to find or listen to any foreign artists, especially when they are not globally known.
Amazon is a popular online retailer, where you can also purchase music. The easiest way would be buying CDs, phonograph records and other physical copies. But this is not the only way to require music through Amazon. There are several services and features that appeal different target groups. Depending on whether you are looking for a subscription based instant and unlimited streaming service or for a simple way to purchase and download music, you may choose from one of three services offered by Amazon. You could also combine the services, e.g. if you are already using one and want to switch to another one. All the applications can easily be accessed through one app. The application supports almost any popular devices (even BMW and Mini car radios) and has a simple, yet appealing interface that is in most cases easy to understand. Let us see what the differences between Amazons services are:
Amazon Music: With the Amazon Music app you are able to collect all songs that you bought and downloaded from Amazon or that you got via AutoRip and up to imported 250 songs in a single library. It keeps your music synced within up to 10 devices and saves the songs on a cloud to save you some space on your hard drive. 250+ songs can take up some serious space! You can easily access your music library and download it to your smartphone or other tablet at any time. Amazon Music is the most standard service. Technically Amazon Music is a collection of all music that you purchased via Amazon in any way, but you can also use it to buy single songs and albums. Simple and easy to understand, but it can become rather expensive to purchase every single song if you are a heavy listener.
Prime Music: Amazon Prime subscribers have instant and unlimited access to over a million songs, exclusive playlists and their personal radio stations. Amazon Prime comes free with the Amazon Prime subscription. As you may have guessed Prime Music is another streaming service. And like other streaming services it offers the option to listen to songs and playlists offline. The offline mode does not make the songs downloadable in a convenient format you need the Amazon Prime app to listen to them. For those who already own an Amazon Prime subscription, we recommend to at least try Prime Music out, while you should keep in mind that you will not be able to download your music to any of your devices without using the app. And if your subscription wears off, you will not be able to access the Prime Music library at all anymore.
AutoRip: AutoRip is great and convenient feature by Amazon. It is not directly a streaming service or download provider, but rather an additional feature for those who by CD or other physical copies of songs and albums. AutoRip automatically sends you an MP3 version of your purchased music, so that you can listen to it before your product even arrives. You can even access all songs that you bought since 1998 in your library. So if you purchase a song or album over Amazon, you get a copy saved to the cloud which you can listen to at any time via the app.
To be fair, we have to add that most of the streaming services do not offer real downloads. You may be able to listen to your music offline, too, but only with a specific player and only if your subscription is not expired. We still mention streaming services and have listed them here, because they may be more suitable for some people and offer in general more content for less money.
Alternatively you could choose between content providers like iTunes and Google Play, which offer single purchases of songs and albums. You buy a song, download it and therefore can listen to it anywhere on your device. The big advantage here is the fact, that you actually buy the music and not only the streaming service and thus really own the copy. You do not have to worry about copying it to your other devices and listening it there, but you should refrain of distributing them to third parties. There is no need to list them here, because these providers are in most cases depended on the kinds of devices that you own. People with iPhones are almost always using iTunes and Android users are respectively using Google Play. The only differences for these services are in most cases the prices of the single purchases and they may have libraries of different sizes, but in most cases all of them cover the most popular artists and song titles.
You should think about whether you are okay to pay money on music that may be available for free or may not. Moreover if it is important to you if you own at least a digital copy of songs that you bought or if you are okay with subscribing to a streaming services that lets you listen to your music as much as you want, but will not give you rights over the content, even if you make it available for offline usage. There are many free services that may be more than enough for your purposes. So be sure to check them out, especially Usenet, before subscribing to any streaming service or purchasing your music.