Best sites to buy MP3 and digital music you own forever


Sarah Tew / CNET

Streaming music from a service such as Spotify or Apple Music is great, but it is not always practical. For example, you need a solid internet connection. And while you can download songs for offline playback, access to your music disappears when you stop paying the monthly fee.

Buying digital music such as MP3s make sense for a number of reasons. The tracks are yours to keep and put on the device you want, and it better finances the artist and labels, who can then keep making more music. Many of the following sites offer lossless music for sale as well as offering one noticeable increase in quality and usually costs the same.

Whether you want to buy a music single or an entire album, here are the best places to visit. I start with the big one – iTunes and Amazon – and move on to some of my favorites that you may not have heard of, including Bandcamp.


Average price per album: 10 USD

Maximum bit rate: 256 Kbps (AAC)

iTunes may no longer be the star of Apple’s lineup, as Apple Music is in pieces right now, but it’s still one of the biggest digital marketplaces. If you use MacOS Catalina, you can access it from Music> iTunes Store. Technically, iTunes does not sell MP3s – instead it sells its own AAC format, but these files can be read by almost any modern player. iTunes still sets the standard for loss-making music downloads, and its catalog should cover all but your most obscure needs.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average price per album: $ 9.50

Maximum bit rate: 256 Kbps

If you are an Amazon Prime member, the Amazon Music offer makes a lot of sense. You get a (limited) streaming service, a music store to buy MP3s, in addition to streaming and automatic rip of physical discs that you buy.

Note that even though Amazon neglected its “digital locker” service that stores your personal MP3s, the MP3s you purchase from Amazon will still be available for streaming and download.

Average price per album: 10 USD

Maximum bit rate: 320 Kbps, lossless

With the support of many indie music labels, Bandcamp is perhaps the best alternative to iTunes or Amazon, especially if your taste goes to the more esoteric. The site allows you to download in any format you want (MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless) and apparently as many times as you want, without paying extra.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average price per album: $ 9

Maximum bit rate: 320 Kbps, lossless

If you are looking for a wide selection of MP3s (and also FLAC files), 7Digital is available in a number of countries and has decent prices and regular sales offers. Although music is added to the site regularly, it is often harder to find – in the US, the front page and other discovery features have not been updated in two years.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average price per album: 10 USD

Maximum bit rate: 320 Kbps

If your taste runs into dance music with a sprinkle of indie, then you will find a lot to love about Bleep. The site also has a good selection of 16-bit and 24-bit FLAC that are not subject to the price increases from some competing vendors.

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Average price per album: $ 7

Maximum bit rate: 200 to 320 Kbps

eMusic claims to have had the first legal MP3 album available online: They Might Be Giants’ Long Tall Weekend, released in 1999. While eMusic’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed, it’s still holding, and it now offers tracks from 49 cents every .

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