I love music. I don’t care that it took me twenty years to consciously realize the time signature change in Pink Floyd’s Money, even though I memorized the solo lick for lick when I was first learning to play guitar. You may not call me an enthusiast, but I am definitely a big fan. I have fond memories of being in third and fourth grade, staying up all hours of the night listening to a cassette deck that had no faceplate, which meant you had to hold the tape in place before you could push play. I don’t have to deal with such physical inconveniences nowadays.
I am also a fan of budget music. I’ve often browsed used CD sections of music stores and perused numerous garage sales for music that folks decided to thin from their collections. Online music may not yet be that low cost, but it’s getting pretty close, and it shows with my 50G+ library.
Mini geek rant
I love my iPod and my iPhone, but iTunes has never been an option for me. I’ve always had an aversion to DRM. While I believe iTunes is now DRM free, by the time they dumped it, I had discovered eMusic and the Amazon MP3 store. I simply have no reason to switch and frankly, I still have a bad taste in my mouth about it. I recently paid $6 to iTunes to upgrade to DRM free versions of two albums I already purchased with a gift card. It just doesn’t sit well with me.
Both emusic and Amazon have large libraries and between the two you’re bound to find what you’re looking for, but each service operates a little differently. Amazon is a pay as you consume service. You can spend $100 this month and $5 next month, at your leisure. eMusic is a subscription based service. You choose your subscription level, 30 credits for $11.95, for example, and you have one month to download your music on a “use it or lose it” basis. At the time of this writing, both services allow you to re-download previously purchased music, though you must subscribe to eMusic to have this feature.
If you’re looking for new and interesting music, eMusic is the place to start. As you rate music, eMusic fine tunes its recommendations to you. They also have a wonderful system of “Editor’s Picks”. I’ve had very good luck with those and am currently thoroughly enjoying Dragonslayer by Sunset Rubdown. If you know what you’re looking for and it’s standard radio fare, Amazon’s MP3 store is the place to start. We recently grabbed the soundtrack to the Hannah Montana movie for Heather and our kids.
Minor Geek Note
While each service embeds album artwork within the files, I’ve not come across any MP3′s with embedded lyrics. For those of us peculiar enough to want this feature, it’s still a manual process.
Getting your music from a combination of both sources is the way to go for me, but my first stop tends to be eMusic. I generally only subscribe for a month at a time. Every couple of months or so, I get a “Please come back!” email with a bonus 50 or 75 free songs with my subscription. I’ll resubscribe, download my music and generally cancel that month. I’ve tried multiple variations and found that it takes me at least two months to grok that amount of music.