“Besides Apple’s store, which controls some 70% of all single-song downloads, there are BuyMusic, eMusic, MusicMatch, MusicNow, RealPlayer, Rhapsody, Napster, and even a service from Wal-Mart. Computer companies, online service providers, and consumer electronics stores are joining the chorus; in coming months we’ll also see online music services from big-name headliners Microsoft, Amazon, and Sony,” Peter Lewis writes for Fortune. Lewis takes a look at nine legit online music services and compares their pros and cons.
“In these pages we’ve considered only Windows-based download services. All but two of the services listed in the table sell songs in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, which the Apple iPod can’t stomach but which plays well on dozens of other devices,” Lewis writes.
Lewis writes, “If you’re new to online music, this is the place to start. It’s based on the Windows version of Apple’s iTunes software, which tightly integrates a media-player program (iTunes), a download service (the music store), and a portable player (the iPod), resulting in unparalleled ease of use. The software is free and there are no subscription fees. The catalog of more than 500,000 songs is among the largest of all legal services. Apple’s search functions are best-in-class, making it easy to find the music you seek, assuming it’s available. Any song you buy can be burned to a CD an unlimited number of times; unchanged playlists can be burned to a disc up to ten times. You can transfer songs for playback on as many as three computers, and to your iPod as many times as you want.”
Lewsi writes, “Nice features include celebrity playlists (what’s Sting listening to now?), iTunes Essentials (the best make-out songs, for example), Billboard charts from several decades, prepaid cards and allowance accounts, gift certificates, and