Magnatunes is a music-label-and-music-shop that has been started as
a way to be nicer to both listeners and musicians. Musicians get half
of the sales, which is much nicer than the peanuts they usually get,
and customers can preview songs in full, instead of having to guess what
a song is like from a random 30-second snippet. They're a cool bunch of
people, easy to like, but what you'll find there is the reportoire
of the artists they have under contract: usually good stuff, but if you
look for something specific, you may or may not find it there.
Magnatunes has recently discontinued album sales and switched over
to a subscription model where you pay 45$/3 months and can download
everything you want. (Which is more than at least I normally spend on
music, but you can still preview all the tracks in full, without
having a subscription, which is nice).
Amazon has finally gotten around to offer the same MP3 shop that they
have in the US also in Germany. The same? No, stupid, due to sales
restrictions, you won't get everything, even though you'll really
find most things.
Backed by Deutsche Telekom, Musicload.de is the 800-pound-gorilla
among the German download services. It's pretty big, and you'll find
most of the stuff if you know what you want or just want to have what
everyone wants. Downsides? Ads that get in the way, you can only
find something if you know the title, and the preview works only
halfway even when you have the MPlayer-plugin installed (it's not
flash-based, but works with Microsoft's mediaplayer plugin instead,
which works less well on non-Windows platforms).
I didn't know 7digital before I found them. It's a UK-based shop,
apparently. Navigation is so-so (okayish), but the site's design is nice
and clean. I like them.
Amie Street started out as another utopic experiment: They sell any
music that they get offered, starting at 0 cents (yes, free),
eventually going up to 100 cents per track as people buy more of
the albums. Amie Street's bet is that user-generated indications
for navigation and quality work &emdash; so far, I think it does
work, regardless of whether you've got general interests or are
looking for something in a specific niche, and whether you like to
find proven, generally acclaimed music (high pricepoint) or whether
you like to ferret around for the hidden jewels.
The ground is a Finnish CD and MP3 shop that has mostly Finnish bands,
but also some mainstream content (of which most is restricted to
Finnish customers, I think). I like their clean site design and
Gimell Records is the label of the Tallis Scholars, a highly acclaimed
choir that does (mostly) Renaissance music. So, if you like Renaissance
music, and you like their style, this is where you need to go.
ClassicsOnline is a music shop that is operated by the Hongkong-based Naxos
label (which I fondly remember since I was young and made nice catches of
classical music in the bargain bin of a large department store).
ClassicalOnline's library is pretty big, with dozens of subscribed labels
(including, e.g., Carus, which generally makes high-quality music).
The navigation is ok-ish although confusing at times.
One annoying thing: If you don't have their download manager
(which only exists for Windows and MacOSX), you'll have to click on
each song individually to download it. Apparently, these people have
never heard of .zip files. Update:
ClassicsOnline uses a version of the
download manager, which also exists for Linux (in fact, was originally
written for Linux). Downloading (and installing) the Windows or Mac
client, then putting the classicsonline.jar and classicsonline.properties
files in EMusicJ's lib/ directory and changing the main class
name in the start script gives you a working download manager.