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Monday, December 22 12:01 EST

Reviews: Digital Music Stores: Final Thoughts

By Brian Briggs

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

Final Observations

It was difficult to compare these programs head-to-head because each offers different music services. Each has its strengths and its quirks. One of the biggest issues would be the availability of the songs that you want, which is something I cannot review. Three of the services changed while I was doing this review, so I expect even more in the near future.

Additionally, if you have a digital music player like an iPod or a Dell DJ then that would certainly influence your choice. If you plan on adhering to the licenses and restrictions from each service then you should read their EULAs closely, and maybe get a lawyer.

What will I choose?

Rhapsody does not meet my music listening needs, so I will be removing it from my computer. I like that Wal Mart has broken the 99 cent price floor, but the editing of songs is something I cannot abide by, so I will not be buying songs from Wal Mart. I like the Napster Premium Service, but my music budget does not allow for $10 a month in subscription services, and money for buying songs. I’ll download my fifty songs from EMusic if I can find that many, but my tastes are more mainstream, so I will not continue the subscription. I will keep Musicmatch as my default music program and streaming service and search the iTunes Music Store and the Napster Music store for songs that I can’t find on Musicmatch. Unless, of course, I get an iPod for Christmas.

The Perfect Service

I think the perfect music program would have the selection, allowance feature and store design of iTunes, the abilities to download songs and playlist searching of Napster, the price of Wal Mart or BuyMusic's cheap tracks, the powerful jukebox, tagging features, and streaming service of Musicmatch, the file format and rights of EMusic, all fit into the program size of Rhapsody. As quickly as these programs are updating, maybe we’ll get there some day.

Suggestions for your Digital Music Budget

With $5 a month to spend on music I would subscribe to the $2.95, Musicmatch streaming service and spend the $2 on other songs at any store for purchase.

With $10 a month to spend on music I would subscribe to the $2.95, Musicmatch streaming service and spend the $7 on other songs at any store for purchase. Or, EMusic Basic if it fits your musical tastes better.

With $15 a month, I would spend $4.95 a month for the Musicmatch streaming service and $10 a month purchasing songs either through EMusic or the other stores.

With $20 a month, I would subscribe to the Napster Premium service and buy $10/month in songs but still use Musicmatch as a jukebox. Or, sign up for EMusic Basic, MusicMatch Platinum and spend $5 at the other stores.



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