Music on the Cheap

So there I am staring at my 1000+ cassette tapes and thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with all these now?”.  Like Shawn and Ed frantically sorting through an old crate of albums, desperately hurling the expendable ones as weapons at oncoming zombies… (clip)
Ed: “Purple Rain?”
Shawn: “No.”
Ed: “Sign of the Times?”
Shawn: “Definitely not.”
Ed: “The Batman Soundtrack?”
Shawn: “Throw it.”
Ed: “Dire Straits?”
Shawn: “Throw it.”
I also had to make some decisions. I could spend cash, and way too much time converting cassettes to mp3, or just pay for them again in digital format. The CD conversions weren’t a problem, but I skipped replacing all of my tapes to CDs. At that time I needed pizza and beer money for college. (Don’t judge, it got me the college degree I don’t use anymore).

Never have to do this again!

Once  the Free Napster went under and the RIAA starting winning music-sharing lawsuits at $20,000 per song, I knew that avenue of pleasure had been cutoff. Things looked bleak, so I started shopping at used CD places again.

I do enjoy this sort of thing once in a while, but I’m not a big fan of adding more media that I’m just going to burn to mp3 then file away. Plus, I’m still spending between $5-$12 per CD,  and that can add up fast.
Luckily, I’ve found the way. Great quality mp3’s at prices that make you say “What the WHAT?” I’ve been able to rebuild and add to my collection very quickly with the help of two sites:

Music MP3 RU

The Gold Standard. I’m not sure how they do it and I don’t care. Somehow the Russians have built the best download site on the net. The song prices are normally 15 cents with albums ranging from under a dollar to $4. The highest prices are usually double albums or box sets.  The quality is very high,  and they’ve added the ability to download albums as zip files and easier ways to pay.

The first step is to create an account and then add money to it. You will have to add a minimum of $20 to start. Don’t fret:  you’ll gladly spend it  when you see what you can get for that price. Instead of one media CD, try 12-15 album downloads. The easiest way to add money to the account is by using PayPal. PayPal is a credit card middleman which gives you complete control of what card to use and set limits on the amount. Once set up this is a very easy way to pay for items online. It’s as secure as your password so be creative,  and I would advise not to use your highest balance credit card.

Once you’ve added money to the account you can start downloading. All songs are yours to keep, copy and burn. They usually have new releases right away and daily updates.

PROS: High quality files, low prices, extensive selection.
CONS: Low download bandwidth, web interface needs an overhaul
NEW ACCOUNT BONUS: Send an email to (jeff@wificastle.com) to get $5 added to your account. Here’s how it works: Send me an email requesting a musicmp3 coupon code. When you add money to your account for the first time, enter the code to get an extra 5 bucks to spend at the site. I get the same out of the deal so it works out for everyone.

Emusic

Emusic is a site for connoisseurs and collectors. You won’t find much new or mainstream music here. What you uncover is a substantial collection of Jazz, Big Band, Swing, Electronica, Blues, Classical, World and time vaults from the 1920s to present in all the main genres. You’ll find many small music labels and audiobooks. It’s a good complement to musicmp3. If you can’t find it in Russia,  you may here.

The download plans are set at a monthly fee. Depending on the plan you choose, songs will range from 40-50 cents. That’s quite a hike from Russia, but its an entirely different selection. You can choose from 12-75 downloads at a monthly cost range of $6.50 to $31. Thankfully, they just added rollover rights, so if you miss a month you won’t lose your pre-determined number of downlaods. Don’t wait more than that though, the rollover only lasts 30 days.

Occassionaly, Emusic will throw you some bonus downloads for whatever reason. They’ll alert you in email and you can verify the amount and expiration date on your account page.

The collection here is so large it can be daunting. It’s easy to get lost if you’re not focused on what you were looking for. To help with that, Emusic lets other subscribers share their download lists and favorites. Another helpful feature is the Related Artists section and Editor’s Picks. I personally rely on other subscribers to help me find similar tracks and artists that I like.

PROS: Music selection is unique, high quality files, download manager makes for fast downloads, web interface is intuitive and will adjust to your tastes and previous searches and downloads
CONS: Monthly fee, auto renewal from credit card, limited download plans

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