Download Lowdown Page 7

Marching to Their Own Beat

While the major labels refuse to sell music in the universally compatible MP3 format, here are a couple of sites where you can buy MP3 tracks. eMusic (emusic.com) offers 500,000 tracks, mainly from lesser-known artists like the Decemberists (below). And it delivers well above the typical MP3 rate of 128 kbps by encoding tracks at a variable rate that averages 192 kbps. I downloaded the Decemberists' "This Sporting Life" at a robust 320 kbps, and it sounded as good as a CD. The site offers three plans: 40 downloads per month for $10, 65 for $15, or 90 for $20. A free trial is available.

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AllofMP3 (allofmp3.com) is a four-year-old Russian-based site (with an English-language option) that offers just about everything you could want, often at higher bit rates and at a fraction of the cost of U.S.-based sites. It's the only site, for example, where you can buy songs by the Beatles (below) - the site is legal in Russia, but raises serious questions about the borderless Internet. Songs are available in three encoding rates. For example, download­ing the Paris Combo's "Moi, Mon Ame et Ma Conscience" costs 14¢ for the 128-kbps version, 22¢ for 192 kbps, and 36¢ for 320 kbps. A mono 24-kbps version was free. (AllofMP3 also offers WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and MP4 versions.)

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