We have all had the experience of buying an album (showing my age) or CD and discovering that one or two of the songs is great and the rest sucks. So being able to download only the songs I want has been a dream of mine for some time. And as old-fashioned as it seems, I refuse to file share. You can rationalize all you want, it is stealing! Given that, I have recently been sampling the various music download services. I thought I would pass along some of my experiences.
First, iTunes has what seems to be the largest selection. The quality of the downloads has been very good as well. Of course, I cannot use my downloads purchased at iTunes on my Rio Cali nor in MusicMatch. That means that iTunes has limited appeal to a PC user. Also, iTunes is a dog of a performer on a PC.
My main source of downloaded music is MusicMatch Downloads. I have been using MM Jukebox for several years now so it makes life easy. The selection is pretty good and it is very easy to download a song and add it to my library. However, the quality of the downloaded files is not as good as I expect. In fact, if many of my downloads did not have "noise" in them or skips, this review would stop here as I would have all I needed in a service. However, this is a big deal and has led me to continue searching for a better solution.
The legal version of Napster seems to have a large catalog. Unfortunately, I have had trouble with the client and have not been able to complete a download. I will let you know if I ever hear back from their tech support.
I have also tried WalMart.com. Give them credit, they do this just like they do everything else. Their downloads are just $.88 vs $.99 for everyone else. Overall, the quality has been good. The downside is that their selection is limited.
Last is eMusic. I received a free trial membership with my Rio Cali. Let me just say that their catalog sucks! Do not waste your time. I had trouble finding 50 songs to download for my free trial.
All in all, I am still waiting for perfection but enjoying the present when it comes to music downloads.