by Alex Cosper (1/12/13, revised 3/18/14)
Purchasing music online has quickly become the most popular way consumers are expanding their music libraries. Although record stores still exist, digital downloads have simply have more advantages for people who have concerns about storage space, longevity and organization of their music. Keeping all your music on computer using iTunes allows your to easily find songs quickly, using the search box.
The iTunes Music Store launched in 2003 and has been the most popular music store in America since 2007. Digital downloads are simply easier to manage and protect than physical products such as CDs or vinyl. Physical products wear out over time while digital products can potentially last a lifetime. Digital files also are easy and free to produce while physical configurations can be expensive to produce. Although iTunes is not the only online store that sells digital downloads of music, its huge market share makes it well known even to people who have never used it. Other sites that sell digital downloads include Napster and eMusic.
Even if you would rather buy CDs, there are plenty of online methods to do it, such as through Amazon, CDUniverse and many others. Online purchasing is simple, especially if you use iTunes. CDBaby is an excellent site for tracking down regional and indepdendent artists. When you set up your account you enter your credit card number or PayPal address. Then you just click the songs you want to purchase and they are downloaded instantly to your iTunes program, where it can be easily found and heard with just a click.
If you are looking for a rare CD, LP or other recorded product, the best places to look are eBay, Amazon or Craigslist. Sometimes you can find rarities simply by Google searching them or checking on eBay or Amazon. These sites are also useful in searching for the best deal. An alternative to purchasing music is "renting" it, which can be done with platforms such as Spotify or Rhapsody.
Online streaming has developed as an alternative to downloading music to your computer. With services such as Pandora, Spotify, Slacker and iTunes Radio, you can tap into a radio-like streaming service that lets you customize your playlist with genre and artist preferences. In the streaming world there are free advertiser-driven models as well as subscription models.
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