Buy Cheap Music
Whether you're looking to buy a music single or a whole album, here are the best sites to visit. I'll start with the biggies -- iTunes and Amazon -- and move on to some of my favorites that you may not have heard of, including Bandcamp. If you want to play these files, most phones offer apps for each store or have their own native music apps.
buy cheap music
iTunes may no longer be the star of Apple's lineup, given that Apple Music is the company's focus right now, but it's still one of the biggest digital marketplaces. iTunes still sets the standard for lossy music downloads, and its catalog should furnish all but your most obscure needs. Technically iTunes doesn't sell MP3s -- instead it sells its own AAC format, but these files can be read by almost every modern player.
If you use MacOS Catalina you can access it from Music > iTunes Store. Additionally, if you want to download lossless files you will need a Music membership, but you won't be able to keep the music if your subscription ends.
With the support of many indie music labels, Bandcamp (now a part of Epic Games) is perhaps the best alternative to iTunes or Amazon, particularly if your tastes run to the more esoteric. The site enables you to download in whichever format you like (MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless) and seemingly as many times as you like, without paying extra. In addition, the site runs regular Bandcamp Friday events, which give 100% of the proceeds to the artist.
If you're an Amazon Prime member, then Amazon Music makes a lot of sense. You get a (limited) streaming service and a music store to buy MP3s from, in addition to streaming and automatic rips of physical discs that you buy. However, recently the company appears to be sidelining the service in favor of its subscription service --for instance, the digital music homepage is now essentially an ad for Amazon Music Unlimited.
If you're looking for a wide selection of MP3s (and also FLAC files) 7Digital is a viable alternative to the Qobuz download store (which is fantastic, but doesn't have MP3s). 7Digital is available in a number of countries and has decent pricing and regular sales offers. Though music is added to the site regularly it's often more difficult to find than on other sites -- for instance, the US store's front page and other discovery features haven't been updated in over two years.
If your tastes run to dance music with a sprinkling of indie, then you'll find a lot to love about Bleep. The site also has a good selection of 16-bit and 24-bit FLACs that aren't subject to the price hikes of some competitive vendors.
Despite the rise of streaming, millions of MP3s are still available for sale and the number of tracks is growing all of the time. All of the stores listed here enable you to either download songs legally to a computer or directly to your phone -- and most offer dedicated apps for Android. Be aware that due to Apple restrictions, iOS users may not be able to buy music from sources other than iTunes on their phones.
Google Play Music stopped selling MP3s in late 2020 as the company moved to the streaming-only YouTube Music. All of the above services offer an excellent alternative to Google Play Music, and some such as Bandcamp offer higher-quality lossless for the same price. One feature that YouTube Music did carry over from Google Play Music is the music locker, which lets you upload your own music library.
MP3 is known as a "lossy" format because it removes audio information in order to reduce file sizes, even at the maximum 320kbps rate. By comparison, FLAC is a "lossless" format because it doesn't remove info and instead compresses music in a similar way to a ZIP file. As a result, a FLAC sounds better than an MP3, especially one that's been ripped at a low 128-kbps bit rate.
Buying music online means you own it outright rather than using it under license. As such, tracks aren't going to disappear from your library suddenly. Plus, there's no danger of the parent company going out of business and taking your music collection with it.
When you enter the listing of a song or album that's available on Amazon, you will see a selection of purchase options. Depending on availability, you can choose to grab the MP3 or physical version. Buying MP3 music online is generally cheaper. However, if you buy the CD version, you will typically be granted a free copy of the MP3 version.
Apple iTunes Store was the original online music store, and it continues to thrive to this day, albeit in a slightly re-imagined format. Most singles on iTunes cost $0.99, though popular songs are usually $1.29; the default price of an album is $9.99.
The number of songs/albums available for purchase on 7digital is in the millions. As such, you can be confident you will find the music you want, even if it falls into a niche genre. All the latest hits from the world's biggest music stars are also available.
There are both pros and cons when compared with its rival. On the upside, HDtracks has a greater number of audio formats available. The highest quality tracks (24bit/192kHz) are a significant step up on the best high-res tracks on 7digital, though most of the music available in the highest-quality format falls into the classical music genre.
If you're a traditionalist who prefers owning CDs over digital music, check out CD Universe. The site is fairly basic, but it has one of the most in-depth collections of CDs and vinyl records available online. At the last count, there were more than 800,000 titles.
The collection of titles isn't as deep nor as niche as Amazon and the like, but if you're looking to pick up the latest music from today's stars, you'll find the albums readily available at competitive prices.
Bleep offers digital sales in the form of mp3, FLAC, and WAV, with the addition of CDs, vinyl, and even cassettes to buy. Founded in 2004, Bleep has aimed to support independent artists and labels. So for all indie-music lovers, this is a fantastic store to buy music.
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to where to buy or stream music online, and we're not going to say that one approach is better than another. Whether you prefer the ease of streaming music on Spotify or find satisfaction in the legal ownership of buying music outright, there are still plenty of options regarding the best places to buy music.
Remember, you can download your most-loved albums on Spotify for offline listening. However, you cannot export them outside the Spotify ecosystem. On the other hand, buying music means you get to keep it for life, whether in mp3 format, CD, or vinyl.
Manila-based Joey Santos is the Managing Editor of Digital DJ Tips. A DJ since 1999, he ran a successful recording studio for many years, and is a music producer and sound engineer too. He is the tutor for our Dance Music Formula and Music Production For DJs courses.
If you want to enjoy listening to the music of your favorite artists, you also need to pay attention to copyrights while trying to obtain your favorite songs. You might try your luck and use some services that allow you to listen or download free music legally. But, those music download services might not be enough since there is a limited offer of free songs that you can download. Also, some websites only let you stream songs for free, but what if you want to put them on your player or take them to a party?
What needs to be said right from the beginning is that there is a huge number of websites that promise to deliver cheap music, letting you download songs 100% legally. Most users believe that if they pay for something, then the product they are getting is totally genuine. And by genuine, in this case, we mean songs of irreproachable quality.
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