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Author Topic: Music Subscription Service -- Which One?  (Read 7187 times)

Omni

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Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« on: December 28, 2003, 04:02:46 am »

I know Jim started a thread about this a while back, but if I recall correctly, the reviews were a mixed bag.  It's been a few months though, and we have some more "new" regulars around, so maybe we can give this topic another shot.

I just got broadband yesterday (yes, the day after Christmas, and what a wonderful, belated gift!), so now I'm shopping around for a place to buy a song every once in a while.

Which service (iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.) would you recommend?

I don't care too much about cost, and I don't mind paying a subscription fee on top of the song itself.

I guess I care mostly about quality, selection, and accessibility [as in "Can I play and tag it in MC?"] (in that order).

Rhapsody boasts "CD quality 128K" which is a joke of you ask me, but is that the standard offer out there?  Does any service offer higher quality rips?  If not, then I guess my only choice will be iTunes since 128K AAC is definitely better than 128K MP3.

Who offers the highest quality rips (either in MP3 or WMA)?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Omni
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technobarbie

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2003, 04:39:01 am »

I personally like Rhapsody. The interface is very well polished and well thought out.  The selection is fairly good, and they update quiet often.  I also like how easy it is to manage your account, and canceling only takes a few seconds.

I'm not sure about streaming bit rate, but when you purchase tracks (.79) you have to immediately burn them to CD. I just put one of my CD's in MC and it registered as 1440 cda format. You can rip these tracks with MC like a normal CD.  YADB also tags these CD's like a normal CD.

Also note, when you stream songs they are not stored on your PC.

PS: I thought iTunes interface was clunky and hard to navigate. I didn't get any further than that.



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zevele10

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2003, 04:46:17 am »

The stream is Widows 9 128 kps format.MILLIONS times better than MP3 128 kps.
I had a free week trial and i really liked it
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ThatAdamGuy

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2003, 06:13:05 am »

If you have a Mac, the decision is easy: iTunes.
If you have a PC, the decision is a bit harder.  Here are my brief thoughts:

Rhapsody:
- High quality radio stations!
- Pretty intuitive and streamlined interface.  Never once crashed or froze on me!
- Very nice selection, and decent album/artist arrangements and info!  Unlike Napster, Rhapsody will also give you info on the full artist discographies, not only the songs/albums Rhapsody has streaming rights to.
- Very fine customer service (but only by e-mail, not phone)
- You can't download any tunes! (though I expect this to change in early-to-mid Q2... ;-)

Napster:
- With a premium membership, you can stream full-length songs with about 80-90% of Napster's library (96kbps WMA via broadband), and you can download these same tunes (128kbps WMA), and can PLAY (but not burn) them on up to three computers.  This is the membership I have, and I love it!
- With or without a premium membership, you can buy tracks/albums for 99 cents / $9.95.
- E-mail customer service is hit or miss, but phone support is fast and friendly
- Best of all, you can play the Napster songs you download in MC, and they're already (pretty accurately) tagged! :)  With MC, you can then burn CDs with a mixture of your own songs and (paid) Napster songs, which is very easy and cool to do.
- Napster Radio has the best flexibility but the worst programming out of the services :(.  Complete random access to your 'stations' -- but too many repeats in pre-programmed stations!
- The WMA plugin can be handy, but I'm not very fond ot it.
- On the forums there, I'm "SmileGuy"
- Napster offers a paltry 3 day Premium trial, but you can download and use the non-premium features indefinitely without fee (30 second previews, artist info, etc.)
- Has the best portable player support of any service.

MusicMatch:
- Absolutely the best Internet radio ANYWHERE.  Well worth the $3 or so a month (I renewed for just $29.95 a year).  Huge selection of genres and subgenres and more.  Recommendations are fun and sometimes uncannily spot-on.
- Downloads are at WMA 160kbps, the best of any major download service I believe.
- Artist info is nicely integrated and fairly complete.

ALL of the services:
- Have decent sound
- Are pretty easy to cancel
- Offer free trials (TRY THEM!!!)
- Fail to provide unrestricted (un-DRM'd) downloads

------

I've written a bit about ALL of the services above on my blog.  Check out my blog index and search for any of the services, and you'll find several items :).  Or just scan the latest entries in the index and note my music commentaries ;).  I'd love to hear your feedback!
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KingSparta

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2003, 06:16:30 am »

I would think XM Radio Would Be Better And Record Off Of That

Since You Get 100+ Stations and it is $10 per month for Digital Sound And It Is Not Secure Media Files.
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ThatAdamGuy

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2003, 06:30:31 am »

XM Radio looks interesting.  But it's a bummer you have to pay $50 for the receiver... and then you still can't skip songs you don't like :-(.

On the positive side, it's available even when one's internet connection is down... and it doesn't take up bandwidth.  Hmm.
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ZRocker

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2003, 09:20:40 am »

Try .com]All Of MP3 and pick the encoding format and bitrate you like best.
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Omni

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2003, 03:20:57 pm »

Well, thanks for all the feedback, especially to Adam--very in depth and informative, and I'll be sure to check out your blog.

I was going to ask about radio streams, but I figured that I had better not or else make my query too broad.

I was definitely already going to try out Rhapsody since Comcast (my cable provider) is promoting them and has some sort of special offer going on.  Of course, I had no idea one couldn't actually download any songs.  Bummer.  Because of this, it's doubtful I'll sign with Rhapsody anytime soon.

MusicMatch sounds promising.  (I guess I need to go and reinstall my "lifetime upgradeable" MM8.)   Best radio plus 160 kbps WMA downloads seem kind of hard to beat!

All of MP3 also seems very promising (once I got past all the unreadable Russian!) since there I can supposedly encode songs in MPC--my favorite lossy codec.

Again, thanks for all the feedback!!!

Omni
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Galley

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2003, 05:56:28 pm »

Another advantage to Rhapsody is that you can access the songs on any PC you can install the software on.
As far as the quality goes, I thought they were still using the WMA 7 encoder.
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ThatAdamGuy

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2003, 06:07:02 pm »

You can do this on Napster, too.

However, for my ears, at least, Rhapsody streams sound better than Napster streams, likely because Napster only streams up to 96kbps, wherreas Rhapsody streams at 128kbps.
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Omni

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2003, 06:08:15 pm »

Well, I've been playing around with iTunes, MusicMatch, and Napster today, and so far MusicMatch is winning.

iTunes is okay and is still in the running.

Napster doesn't sound very good (so far), and also I didn't appreciate them updating my CD drivers without asking me first.

All of MP3 would be in the lead since they're the only one that has "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors, but 1.)  they seem a little expensive compared to others, and 2.)  I'm not too keen on giving my credit card info to a Russian site.
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ThatAdamGuy

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2003, 06:14:05 pm »

I apologize if I'm unfairly monopolizing this thread, but I do humbly think that this is one area in which I've done a ton of research and hands-on experimenting (I've tried Rhapsody, PressPlay, MusicNow, MusicMatch, Napster, AllofMP3, Emusic, Walmart Downloads, iTunes, and more) :D

Anyway, try DOWNLOADING some Napster tunes.  The quality is markedly better, and then you can integrate the tunes into MC :).  But yes, I agree that it's not cool that they update your CD drivers without permission or notification!

Also, regarding AllofMP3 -- it's frankly of questionable legality here in the U.S. at least, but as for safety of your credit card... many of my friends have used their service, with zero (perceived) problems.
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Charlemagne 8

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2003, 06:58:54 pm »

You have been able to use PayPal on AllofMP3 in the past. Recently that option doesn't work but they assure me it will be back.

For streaming, my vote goes to Rhapsody.

For purchasing songs, AllofMP3 wins, no contest.  At $.01 per Megabyte, the price is unbeatable. That translates to about $1.50 per ALBUM at 320kb MP3.

Compare to $0.79 per track at Rhapsody and that only if you pay a $9.95 monthly service fee. Everybody else that I've found is $0.99 per track and up.

With short tracks, you could pay more for the download than the CD would cost at the store. And WITHOUT a CD, case and art AND at only 128kb, which seems to be the standard available.

CVIII
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Omni

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2003, 07:01:34 pm »

I apologize if I'm unfairly monopolizing this thread, but I do humbly think that this is one area in which I've done a ton of research and hands-on experimenting (I've tried Rhapsody, PressPlay, MusicNow, MusicMatch, Napster, AllofMP3, Emusic, Walmart Downloads, iTunes, and more) :D

No apology necessary.  I think everyone here will agree that the more opinions, advice, etc. the better, even if it is from the same person.  ;)   (And judging from your website, you are undoubtly a qualified authority on the subject!)

Anyway, try DOWNLOADING some Napster tunes.  The quality is markedly better, and then you can integrate the tunes into MC :).  But yes, I agree that it's not cool that they update your CD drivers without permission or notification!

I probably will download something, but I was actually referring to their radio streams.  I'm under the "three day trial" period, so I don't think the bit rate is being restricted or anything, right?

Also, regarding AllofMP3 -- it's frankly of questionable legality here in the U.S. at least, but as for safety of your credit card... many of my friends have used their service, with zero (perceived) problems.

Well, if it's not legal, then forget it.  It's too bad, though, since the seem to be the only place that carries "Turning Japanese."  :D  Besides, like I said (and disregarding your testimony), I serious doubt I would ever feel comfortable giving out my CC info to a company based overseas.  (It would be kind of troublesome for me to sue someone living in Russia if ever they did something bad me.)
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zevele10

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2003, 07:02:09 pm »

Also, regarding AllofMP3 -- it's frankly of questionable legality here in the U.S-=-=

NO ,thousands times NO !

It is a 456789% legal site .In Russia digital downloads get the same rules than radio.
Artists , writers get money ,NOT labels.
The russian gouvernement see digital download as a very big income to come in the coming years and support - and monitor- such services.
You are bound by the agrement saying that your download is for personnal use . Not to sell ,or put on P2P.

If you go to Russia and buy some cds [ legal i mean ,not pirate copy], as far as i know you are free to take them  back in the US. There is nothing wrong.

Beside it ,there is no way for iraa to monitor you to see if you download from them.
They servers are in Russia ,not in US. And ,in any case ,you are buying legal music.

You can use your credit card , the last thing russian autorities  want  is any kind of rip -of concerning digital downloads , so they monitor them as i said.
Beside this ,they are running a very good deal and would not make stupid things.

If you think that Russia give a dam about iraa , keep cool.
There is more on earth than USA .. because of it ,we can still have a nice life.

I will post the very long article as soon as i find it. It is somewhere in my favorites.

All my posts concerning this service being deleted because 'it may be illegal' ,can remain now.....
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Omni

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2003, 07:21:23 pm »

I see your point, Zev, but there is one little thing you are not considering:  you live Israel and are safe from "Big Brother," but I live here in the U.S., so "Big Brother" is apt to come to dinner anytime he sees fit.   ;)

In other words, it's easy for someone outside the reach of the RIAA (and Uncle Sam) to throw stones, but for me, I don't have that luxury.  :(

Anyway, I don't want to turn this into a political thread.  I agree with most of what you said, but being I live in the country you are bashing, I have little choice but to steer clear of questionable sites.  <sigh>

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ThatAdamGuy

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2003, 07:23:02 pm »

Quote
I probably will download something, but I was actually referring to their radio streams.  I'm under the "three day trial" period, so I don't think the bit rate is being restricted or anything, right?
No, what you get during the free three day trial is identical to what you get with a regular paying Premium account.

Frankly, I just use the radio to discover some interesting artists I hadn't been familiar with; there are too many repetitions for me to enjoy listening to it on a purely leisure basis.  In this context, the ability to instantly skip to any song in the Napster "radio station" is of great benefit, and frankly... these aren't even really "stations" -- they're shuffled playlists assembled by Napster staffers.
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zevele10

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2003, 07:39:14 pm »

I have little choice but to steer clear of questionable sites. -=-

But ,it is not  a questionable site.

Right now search for France Inter , french radio. Who pays royalties in France ,according to french law ,  not  US law one of cause.
Listen to it . Are you listening to a questionable radio ,because let say in France you pay less than in the US for broadcast ?

the country you are bashing,-=-=
Concerning all this problems ,to bash is to be sane...

Do you know that iraa was in Irak to put in frame a law concerning digital downloads according to what they want...
At the very start of the end of the war..

Corporates rule so much your country that soldiers take them in they bags when going to war....

It looks funny , but such a behaviour as a rule feed anti US feelings.

Beside this ,i can understand that you want to play on the safe side.I may do like you if there.
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John Gateley

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2003, 07:48:52 pm »

No more discussion about AllOfMP3 please (until JimH can approve it anyway). Zev makes some interesting points, but it is still a gray area (are you importing the music from Russia?).

Thanks, and sorry (it was interesting).

j

Charlemagne 8

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2003, 08:04:14 pm »

That's right. And besides, they have limited server capacity so STAY AWAY!!!
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zevele10

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2003, 01:50:47 am »

OK- will just post the long and serious article i found..
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Absurrrd

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2003, 06:56:45 am »

Greetings and felicitations,
I've been looking at these subscription services and well, I would like to know, if it's illegal to download songs from places like Kazaa then why are they still operating? They are still by far the number 1 downloaded application on places like download.com. Hypothetically speaking, Could a person get into serious trouble for using that kind of a service?  ?
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ThatAdamGuy

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2003, 07:46:56 am »

The record industry has definitely tried to shut down KaZaA, but due to some deft operational maneuvers (e.g., having headquarters and staff in places that the RIAA can't easily reach), KaZaA has stayed afloat.

Many people using the software HAVE been sued, though, as has widely been reported in at least the American media... including a 12 year old girl, who settled out of court for a few thousand dollars.
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John Gateley

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Re:Music Subscription Service -- Which One?
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2003, 10:14:20 am »

Too far from the original topic.

j
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