Best Sites to Buy MP3 and Digital Music You Own Forever


Sarah Tew / CNET

Music streaming of a service like Spotify or Apple Music it’s great, but it’s not always practical. For example, you will need a strong internet connection. And while you can download songs for offline playback, once you stop paying the monthly fee, access to your music is gone.

Purchase digital music such as MP3 makes sense for a number of reasons. You can keep the tracks and put them on whatever device you choose, and that better funds the artist and labels who can then continue to make more music. Most of the following sites offer lossless music for sale also, which offers a significant improvement in quality and generally cost the same.

Whether you’re looking to buy a single or entire albums, here are the best places to visit. I’ll start with the big ones – iTunes and Amazon – and move on to some of my favorites that you might not have heard of, including Bandcamp.

Apple

Average cost per album: $ 10

Maximum bit rate: 256Kbit / s (AAC)

iTunes may not be the star of the Apple lineup anymore, considering Apple Music is in tears right now, but it’s still one of the biggest digital markets. If you are using MacOS Catalina, you can access it from Music> iTunes Store. Technically, iTunes doesn’t sell MP3 – instead, it sells its own AAC format, but these files can be played by almost any modern player. iTunes still sets the standard for lossy music downloads, and its catalog should meet all but the most obscure of your needs.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average cost per album: $ 9.50

Maximum bit rate: 256Kbps

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, the Amazon Music offering makes a lot of sense. You get a (limited) streaming service, a music store to buy MP3s, in addition to streaming and automatic ripping of the physical discs you buy.

Note that although Amazon scuttled its “digital locker” service that stores your personal MP3s, the MP3s you buy from Amazon will still be available to stream and download.

Average cost per album: $ 10

Maximum bit rate: 320Kbps, lossless

With the backing of many independent music labels, Bandcamp may be the best alternative to iTunes or Amazon, especially if your tastes are more esoteric. The site allows you to download in the format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless) and apparently as many times as you want, without paying extra.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average cost per album: $ 9

Maximum bit rate: 320Kbps, lossless

If you are looking for a wide selection of MP3s (and also FLAC files) 7 numeric is available in a number of countries and has decent prices and regular sales offers. While music is regularly added to the site, it is often more difficult to find – in the US, the home page and other discovery features haven’t been updated for two years.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average cost per album: $ 10

Maximum bit rate: 320Kbps

If your taste is dance music with a dash of indie, then you will find something to love. Beep. The site also has a good selection of 16-bit and 24-bit FLACs that are not subject to price increases from some competing vendors.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average cost per album: $ 7

Maximum bit rate: 200 to 320Kbps

eMusic claims to have had the first legal MP3 album available on the web: They Might Be Giants’ Long Tall Weekend, released in 1999. Although eMusic’s fortunes have fluctuated, it still stands, and it now offers tracks from 49 cents each. .


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