Pay-Per-Song VS Subscription Services
There are two types of legal music download services; pay-per-song sites, and subscription services. In brief, pay-per-song sites are exactly what they sound like they are while subscription services differ from offering unlimited music streaming to a set number of downloads a month at a discount.
We go through some details here that you might not have thought of to hopefully guide you in the right direction and making the pick between the two a little easier.
A pay-per-song service is exactly what you think it is. You use the site or software, search for the song(s) or album(s) you want and pay for the download. There are no subscription or monthly fees attached.
We are currently comparing 2 pay-per-song services; ITunes, and Amazon MP3.
iTunes requires you to download the iTunes software before being able to search for the music you want or download anything while Amazon MP3 is much easier in our opinion to get started with. Files in MP3 format that you download have no DRM encryption so you can choose to do what you want with the file after downloading, as opposed to iTunes where certain limitations are applied to the file so you can't burn or have the file on as many computers at the same time as you may wish.
Prices are very similar at both sites though you may find a slightly larger selection of exclusive tracks at iTunes than at Amazon MP3. Songs are anywhere between $0.69 to $1.29 while an average album goes for $9-$11.
For anyone downloading only a few songs a month, our reviewers all agree, Amazon MP3 is the way to go if you're looking for a pay-per-song service to get started with but if you enjoy bonus or special tracks, you might want to also check out iTunes and search for your favourite artist and who knows, find a little something speical you won't find at Amazon.
If you download an album's worth on average a month or more, some of the subscription services are probably a better bet for you. We currently highly recommend Superpass as it's a complete entertainment service with a great music selection and currently offering a 14 day free trial which you get 10 free music downloads to keep just for trying.
Once you start downloading an album's worth of music a month or more on average, music subscription services start becoming an economical choice over pay-per-song sites and some offer quite a lot more than only music downloads.
Our top recommended subscription site is currently SuperPass which is an all around entertainment service. You get 10 monthly music downloads, thousands of high quality commercial free radio stations, high quality movie downloads, a free game a month, and access to high quality online television including the TLC, the Discovery Channel, Animal Plant, and shows like Big Brother, MythBusters, and so much more.
When considering everything you get as a member, it's almost a no brainer when pinned up against the other services we review especially as they are currently offering a 14 day free trial to convince you themselves where you can download 10 free songs of your choice which are yours to keep even if you choose not to continue with the service.
Napster is another great subscription service offering something unique. With a membership, you get unlimited streaming meaning you can listen to anything in their music catalogue of millions of songs as much as you want while you're a member. With their subscription, you also get to download 5 monthly songs during your membership which are yours to keep. The service is roughly $5 / month which alone is an economical choice over pay-per-song sites since you download 5 songs which can be over $6 at iTunes for example.
eMusic offers a set number of downloads a month for a monthly subscription fee which could have you buying MP3 tracks for as low as $0.33 per song as opposed to over $1 with pay-per-song sites. Their current promotion lets you download 25 free songs and try the service free for 14 days.
Hopefully this gave you a broad overview of pay-per-song sites compared to subscription services. We suggest you take a look at our homepage where we include ratings and reviews for each music site and have a helpful guide towards the bottom of the page which includes a few questions you should ask yourself when looking for a music download site which will surely guide you in the right direction.