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.
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.)