It’s pretty amazing what you can do on the Internet these days, especially as far as music is concerned. Ten years ago, if you wanted one song from an album, you either had to tape it off the radio, buy the entire album, or hope it came out as a single – which would cost you a quarter of the price of the album for a tenth of the music. These days, music consumers have it a whole lot better.
For one, even though it seems as if Apple has a monopoly with both the iPod and the iTunes Store, they really don’t. Oh sure, millions of people own iPods and use the iTunes Store more than any other MP3 player or online music store, but the truth is: you have options.
Let’s say you want to grab the most popular songs for this week and slap them on your portable MP3 player. If you have an iPod, you can – of course – use the iTunes Store, and it will be almost insanely easy. Just click on the iTunes Store link in iTunes, navigate to what you what, purchase it, and then drag the music files over to your iPod’s icon the next time you hook it up. Simple.
But as I said, iTunes and iPods aren’t the only way to go. Before there was the iTunes Store behemoth, there were Amazon and WalMart. Both offered digital downloads, and both still do. In fact, both Amazon and WalMart jumped on the DRM-free bandwagon (which means you can download your music and use it how you want, not just how the music labels want), before Apple.
With WalMart, just as with the iTunes Store, you can purchase single tracks or complete albums. Unlike the iTunes Store, you don’t have to install an extra piece of software in order to use it! You can do all your searching and purchasing right through your web browser. WalMart does offer an optional music manager (which will automatically add your purchased music to your iTunes library, if you have iTunes installed and use Windows), but it’s completely optional.
There’s also Amazon MP3. Amazon, like WalMart, allows you to browse and purchase your music through their website, and to be honest, it’s a pleasant experience. Songs and albums are laid out nicely, and it’s easy to navigate. However, with Amazon you have to download their music downloader. It’s a fairly painless experience, and if you use the most recent version of Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora or OpenSUSE, you’re in luck, because there are packages for your Linux distributions, as well as Windows or Mac OS X.
What’s really nice about shopping with any of these online music sources is that they all show you charts of what’s popular right now. You can browse by genre and category, and always get up-to-date lists. The three Top 10 lists from the iTunes Store, Amazon and WalMart aren’t identical, but they usually include many of the same songs (of course). Here is a list of the ten most popular songs available for download:
1 – Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects
2 – Right Round – Flo Rida
3 – Just Dance – Lady GaGa
4 – Love Story – Taylor Swift
5 – Heartless – Kanye West
6 – Hot N Cold – Katy Perry
7 – Dead and Gone – T.I. (featuring Justin Timberlake)
8 – Poker Face – Lady GaGa
9 – Single Ladies – Beyonce
10 – I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
iTunes Store Top 10
Amazon.com Top 10
WalMart.com Top 10