Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The best place to download music?

One of the best-written music blogs on the web, No Rock and Roll Fun, spent the weekend comparing the various music download / music streaming sites available in the UK to see which was bestest, in terms of the music they had available.

They had most success on Amazon's MP3 store, but decided not to give them a prize because of a completely unrelated gripe about the company removing sales rank data for "erotic books" - by which they mean anything slightly homosexualised (John Barrowman's autobiography, for example). Those crazy Americans and their puritanical hatred of the gays, eh?

Depending on how you see it, the main strength / flaw of No Rock And Roll Fun's experiment was that it deliberately sought out obscure indie tracks like MoHoBishOpi's Names For Nameless Things or the bizarre Steptoe and Son novelty record, Second Hand.

So I thought I'd conduct my own version of the experiment, with the cunning twist of trying to find songs you might have heard of, or actually want to listen to. Also, rather than making 12 seperate posts about it, I've drawn a table for handy instant reference.

Always thinking of you, I am.

To make it "fair", I've randomly selected five UK number ones, using the excellent Everyhit website; two songs from Gary Mulholland's superlative critique of the 500 best singles since punk This Is Uncool; and three from Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs list from 2004.

Here are the results (click to see a larger version):

The main conclusions:
  • iTunes was the only service to stock all 10 tracks, but Amazon was cheaper every time.
  • Who in their right minds is going to pay £1.49 for Abba's Knowing Me, Knowing You?!?! You can get the album it comes from for £5.00 in HMV.
  • iTunes, Amazon and Spotify were the only sites to have implemented search properly. Unbelievably, 7 Digital and Rhapsody can't find a song if you type in the artist's name and song title at the same time.
  • 7 Digital, We7 and Rhapsody also expect you to magically know which album a particular song comes from. This is great if you're the editor of Mojo magazine, but less helpful if you're my mum.
  • The idea that music has disappeared from YouTube because its having a big old scrap with PRS is patently untrue.
  • We7 allows you to stream entire tracks before you buy, which is fantastic, but its availabilty is all over the place and the pricing is similarly erratic. It's actually easier to use the magnificent Spotify to find music, and a separate download service when you want to purchase it.
  • Why does no-one except iTunes have Genius Of Love for sale?? That song is a masterpiece!! Cretins.


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