I love having my music as mp3s to play on my computer and not so long ago used to spend a lot of my time on Kazaa or various other p2p apps downloading music illegally. When I began to hear of legal music download services, I decided that it seemed the right way to go.
I spent a lot of time reading up and finally decided that iTunes was the music service I should use. Well, it’s a few months later, and I’m wondering why people have raved about iTunes. Undoubtedly it is the best of the paid legal music services in the US. Nevertheless it’s still tied down by the music industry’s stupidity. All files you download are protected and can only be played on the iTunes player or on your iPod. I don’t own an iPod or any other mp3 player and don’t plan to in the future either, (Just too expensive for me) and I don’t particularly like the iTunes player or interface. So that’s two reasons why iTunes doesn’t work for me.
You could say those are mere quibbles. Possibly. So then here’s the clincher. iTunes refuses to burn CDs on my computer. I have no idea why and the error message quite helpully says “Unknown error.” I can’t seem to find anyone who is having a similar problem with iTunes even after myriad Google searches. So it’s just one of those mysterious voodoo errors I’m stuck with, (and no I can’t buy a new computer and/or CD burner either!)
So just when I thought I was done with online music services for the nonce, someone points out AllOfMP3 to me. Almost any artist you want (even the Beatles and Michael Jackson) available at any bitrate you want, upto CD quality music. On the fly encoding with whichever encoder you choose, MP3, Ogg, WMA or lossless encoding formats. Price? As cheap as $0.01 per MB downloaded and no membership fees! Holy Cow!! I just couldn’t believe this is legal!
But, apparently, it is! As is explained at that link, allfomp3 is situated in Russia and according to Russian law, all digital IP rights rest with a single entity called ROMS (link to English version of site) and ROMS pays out the licensing fees to the artists/owners. So apparently anyone can offer music/content downloads online as long as they pay ROMS for it. I’m still confused as to how this works, but I assume the dollar to ruble conversion rate also plays a role in keeping prices low.
It gets better, AllofMP3 has a client called the AllofMP3 Explorer (thank Microsoft for that ubiquitous Explorer suffix) which when you have it running on your computer will automatically download your purchased music for you. You will still need to find the music using your browser and the web interface, but nothing more after that. The Explorer will start downloading the files as soon as they have been encoded and made available.
Still doesn’t sound good? Just registering on the site (for free) gives you access to all of their music as 24kbps MP3s. These are for previewing purposes, so you can actually listen to entire songs/albums to see if you’d like them before you buy them. You can also download an mru of an album to load as a playlist in winamp/[insert media player of your choice here] which will stream the mp3s for you!
Ok, a little exploration and you will be able to figure out whether you like it or not. I know I do. I’m busy purchasing a lot of music from there already. I’m just worried the RIAA (or whoever are the current bad guys) will discover this loophole in Russian copyright laws and lobby for it to be closed or made illegal for download in the US, so that they can all pay themselves hefty bonuses once more.