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Monday, December 22 12:01 EST

Reviews: Digital Music Stores: Musicmatch

By Brian Briggs

iTunes Music Store - Napster - Musicmatch
Rhapsody
- Wal Mart - BuyMusic - EMusic

MusicmatchWhat does Musicmatch offer?
Musicmatch has three different choices. It is a powerful jukebox program. It has a subscription based streaming service. It has a music store.

How much does it cost?
Musicmatch sells songs $.99 per song and albums for $9.95 though album pricing varies. The premium radio service costs $4.95 or $2.95 per month. Radio service subscription is not needed to buy music.

What is the difference between their streaming services?
The $2.95 per month service allows you to listen to one of the 44 preprogrammed, 18 genres and 200 subgenres, music by decade or year since the 60s stations. In addition, you can build your own stations based on artists you choose. The $4.95 service gives you Artist Match, which gives you the ability to select an artist and only listen to songs from that artist or group of artists that you choose. Artist match is a cheaper, but less convenient way than Napster downloads to preview complete songs.

What rights do I have with the songs?
The songs you buy you can burn to a CD, transfer to a wma player and listen to on up to three computers.

What about selection?
Musicmatch claims to have over 250,000 songs in their library. Of the artists I searched for Musicmatch did not have purchasable songs from Green Day or Tenacious D, but they were available to listen to on their radio stations.

File Type: Purchased songs are available as .wma files ripped at 160k. Album cover art is provided as .jpg files.

What I did?
I bought the Musicmatch Jukebox Plus program for $19.95 and received five free songs to buy, although it is not necessary to buy the Jukebox Plus to purchase songs. I also received a free song for opening a Musicmatch Downloads account. I subscribed to the Platinum Version of the Musicmatch Radio MX service.

Songs bought from MusicMatch:

Barenaked Ladies – If I Had a Million Dollars (live)
Ben Folds Five – Army
Poe – Walk the Walk
Counting Crows – Big Yellow Taxi
Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way
Blues Traveler - Hook

General observations: Musicmatch has the most powerful jukebox program out of the bunch with the most options. I have used Musicmatch for a long time, but during this review I discovered many features that I did not know that it had. The supertagging and Auto DJ features are awesome. Dowloading of songs also includes high-quality CD cover art. The latest version allows for tagging of protected wma files, which was previously impossible. The music store underwent a face-lift during the review but still needs some work. It went from looking like something just tacked onto the jukebox program to something that resembles a store. The radio stations are excellent quality and have a good selection of songs. When listening to songs on the radio service you have the ability to buy the songs (if available) or add them to your wish list. The music store offers thirty-second previews of the songs. Musicmatch shows all the songs by the artists not just the songs available for purchase. Good at recommending based on your music library. Can hog system resources. Radio stations a good way to discover new music. Interface is skinnable.

Problems encountered: A few issues with window locations when using different skins, default skin did not have any problems. Trouble ripping a few dirty and scratched CDs.

Who would choose Musicmatch?
With its many choices of streaming or downloading, Musicmatch could be a complete music solution. Someone with a limited budget that still wants the option for streaming. Someone who only wants one music program on their computer.

Who does not want to use Musicmatch?
Someone who wants the widest selection of songs available. Someone who likes small, dedicated programs for each step of the music experience (buying, listening, ripping, burning).

Store Locations: Available in Muscmatch's Jukebox program available at their website.

Screenshots: (default skin)

Jukebox
Store Home
Beastie Boys Search

Radio

Next: Rhapsody

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