eMusic is a major player in the iPod music downloads business. They are one of the pioneers and rank second only to iTunes. They have a diverse catalogue of primarily independent music labels. All their music is in MP3 format and works on any platform. They also have very extensive editorial content, archived shows and events.
One of their greatest advantages is all their music downloads are in MP3 format and DRM free! That means, unlike Apple. com iTunes, Yahoo Music and so many others, you not only own your music, but it continues to play when you discontinue your membership with eMusic. And you can play your tunes on any portable PDA or your computer.
The sad fact about copy protecting music with DRM is the version varies from one company to the next. For instance, you can only play your DRM protected iTunes on your iPod, iPhone or your desktop with the iTunes player installed.
According to The New York Times:
“A major difference between eMusic’s service and other online music stores is that the tracks are delivered in the unprotected MP3 format, which means… that the songs will play on all portable music players, including the Apple iPod®”
Another advantage of eMusic is the music is totally legal to download, unlike the prevalent P2P file sharing sites. Don’t get me wrong, many of the top unlimited music download sites are surely legal, to a certain respect.
One of the things I really like about eMusic is they let you download 25 songs free before you have to pay the minimum $9. 99 per month for 30 songs. So the 25 free ones is almost like a month’s worth of downloads for nothing. Not to mention the 33 cents per song blows away MSN and iTunes 99 cents per song. And it’s even less with the other levels with 50 and 75 songs per month at $14. 99 and $19. 99 respectively!
One slight disadvantage with eMusic is although they offer millions of music tracks; they are primarily “indie” or independent artists. But, all their music is legitimately licensed from independent record labels so you don’t have to be concerned about downloading illegal files.
They do have some major labels like Johnny Cash, The White Stripes, The Prodigy and Mobi. And they are continually increasing them regularly as the DRM free movement is spreading. USA is behind the Europeans in that regard.
So like I mentioned, eMusic only has MP3s, encoded at a variable bit rate (VBR). So you will not have a problem transferring your tunes to your iPod, your CD burner or any portable player. All the tunes are accessed through your Web browser or with the free Download Manager.
One note of caution is if you download from your Web browser you’ll need to disable eMusic’s Download Manager from your account preferences. Then you’ll have to change the file extensions to . mp3 because the file will be downloaded with an unknown file extension. That’s easy to do, just right click the file and choose “Rename” and change the extension to mp3.
On the eMusic site, you can search for tunes by the artist’s name, album, track, label, or composer. Their 12 genres include Alternative, Punk, Country, Folk, Electronic and Jazz. As previously mentioned, the bulk of their tunes are from independent artists but you’ll find quite a few from the major record labels.
They have around 2. 8 million high quality MP3 files from over 13,00 independent music labels. And you will not find a lot of them on competing download sites or music stores.
eMusic’s online interface is ridiculously easy to use. It allows you to download entire albums at a time. There is a review section and a star rating for each file. Their FAQs are well written and they respond very quickly to emails for support.
They offer a 2 week trial allowing you to download 25 tunes for starters before you have to pay the tiny monthly fee. One tip though when you start your membership, is to be sure you download ALL your allotted songs for the month because you cannot carry them over to the next month!