Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Streaming music from a service like Spotify or Apple Music could also be nice, however sadly, it isn’t without end. That’s, for those who cease paying the month-to-month payment, your entry to the music disappears. That is simply one of many causes it is sensible to buy and personal your music.

If you purchase digital music recordsdata, resembling MP3 or FLAC, there are a variety of key advantages. Most significantly, the tracks are yours to maintain and to placed on no matter system you need, plus it offers the artist more cash to maintain making extra music. Certain, you would purchase CDs and rip the music, however the place do you then hold the bodily discs? On-line music shops provide immediate downloads after your buy — no must hassle with a bodily disc — and there’s usually a alternative of various codecs. If you wish to save area and (perhaps) cash, lossy MP3s or AAC is perhaps for you. Or, if area constraints aren’t a priority, most websites additionally provide lossless FLAC or ALAC variations for a noticeable improve in high quality (and so they often price the identical as MP3s).

Whether or not you are trying to purchase a music single or an entire album, and throughout quite a lot of genres, I’ve compiled an inventory of the very best websites to go to. I’ve included each the biggies — iTunes and Amazon — and a few of my private favorites, together with Bandcamp and Qobuz. If you wish to play the music you purchase, most shops provide each Android and iOS apps, otherwise you usually can simply use the native music apps in your telephone. 


Common price per album: $10

Most bit price: 256Kbps (AAC)

iTunes might not be the star of Apple’s lineup, on condition that Apple Music is the corporate’s focus proper now, but it surely’s nonetheless one of many largest digital marketplaces. iTunes nonetheless units the usual for lossy music downloads, and its catalog ought to furnish all however your most obscure wants. Technically iTunes would not promote MP3s — as an alternative it sells its personal AAC format, however these recordsdata might be learn by virtually each fashionable participant. 

Should you use MacOS Catalina or above you possibly can entry {the marketplace} from Music > iTunes Retailer. Nonetheless, if you wish to obtain lossless recordsdata have in mind you have to a Music membership, however you will not have the ability to hold the music in case your subscription ends.

Bandcamp/Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Common price per album: $10

Most bit price: 320Kbps, Lossless (as much as 24kHz)

With the help of many indie music labels, Bandcamp (now part of Epic Video games) is probably the very best various to iTunes or Amazon, notably in case your tastes run to the extra esoteric. The location allows you to obtain in whichever format you want (MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless) and seemingly as many instances as you want, with out paying further. As well as, the positioning runs common Bandcamp Friday occasions, which give 100% of the proceeds to the artist.

Amazon/Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Common price per album: $9.50

Most bit price: 256Kbps

Should you’re an Amazon Prime member, then Amazon Music makes plenty of sense. You get a (restricted)  and a music retailer to purchase MP3s from, along with streaming and computerized rips of bodily discs that you just purchase. Nonetheless,  is pretty drab — only a bunch of blocky buttons as an alternative of canopy artwork — and contains distinguished hyperlinks to Amazon Music Limitless streaming. 

Notice that though Amazon scuttled its “digital locker” service that shops your private MP3s, the MP3s you purchase from Amazon will nonetheless be accessible for streaming and obtain.

Qobuz/Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Common price per album: $10 (CD high quality), $15 (24-bit) 

Most bit price: Lossless (as much as 24/192)

Should you’re solely fascinated by high-quality downloads — and by this I particularly imply 24-bit hi-res — the Qobuz obtain retailer is the most affordable. Just like the Qobuz music streaming service, it caters for all kinds of music genres, from pop to jazz to dying steel to no matter you possibly can consider. The location additionally gives gross sales on new releases together with a latest Metallica promotion. Should you’re an ultra-keen audiophile you possibly can join the $300-a-year Chic streaming bundle, which additionally offers you an extra 33% low cost on downloads.

Bleep/Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Common price per album: $10

Most bit price: 320Kbps, Lossless (as much as 24kHz)

In case your tastes run to bounce music with a sprinkling of indie, then you definitely’ll discover rather a lot to like about Bleep. The location additionally has a wide variety of 16-bit and 24-bit FLACs that are not topic to the worth hikes of some aggressive distributors.


What occurred to 7Digital?

Beforehand, I beneficial 7Digital for its large collection of MP3s (and likewise FLAC recordsdata), however the web site hasn’t been up to date for a while. Whereas the corporate has been acquired by music licensing agency Songtradr, the shop’s entrance web page hasn’t modified in three years and a seek for new releases (Unhealthy Bunny, Lizzo, Gorillaz, and many others.) comes up empty. It is but to be seen what the acquisition will deliver, as 7Digital was as soon as an excellent useful resource for each music discovery and cheaper downloads. Representatives for 7Digital didn’t reply to my request for extra data.

Regardless of the rise of streaming, tens of millions of MP3s are nonetheless accessible on the market and the variety of tracks is rising all the time. The entire shops listed right here allow you to both obtain songs legally to a pc or on to your telephone — and most provide devoted apps for Android. Bear in mind that attributable to Apple restrictions, iOS customers might not have the ability to purchase music from sources apart from iTunes on their telephones.

The place can I purchase music as an alternative of Google Play?

Google Play Music stopped promoting MP3s in late 2020 as the corporate moved to the streaming-only YouTube Music. The entire above companies provide a wonderful various to Google Play Music, and a few resembling Bandcamp provide higher-quality lossless for a similar value. One function that YouTube Music did carry over from Google Play Music is the music locker, which helps you to add your personal music library.

Which is best, MP3 or FLAC?

MP3 is called a “lossy” format as a result of it removes audio data with the intention to cut back file sizes, even on the most 320kbps price. By comparability, FLAC is a “lossless” format as a result of it would not take away data and as an alternative compresses music in the same option to a ZIP file. Because of this, a FLAC sounds higher than an MP3, particularly one which’s been ripped at a low 128-kbps bit price.

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