Choices abound for downloading music legally
AS the record industry has clamped down on Napster-like file sharing over the past few years, the success of the iTunes Music Store
and other outlets has shown that people are willing to pay for digital music obtained from places other than the conventional retail store.
There are plenty of choices -- whether you're buying CDs or going digital with MP3s or iTunes. The best way to determine what service to use depends upon on how you consume digital music. Thus, if you buy CDs online, you'll want a different service than someone who listens to music over a broadband connection or iPod.
Here are some of the more popular services that cover just about every manner of music consumption and platform.
» Amazon.com has a great selection of music, with thousands of free downloads plus a fast checkout system. They also have "you might like" recommendations.
» Allofmp3.com offers downloads of the most popular albums for pennies on the dollar. Is it legal? So far, yes. It's got a very international flavor and provides charts of the top 50 songs from various countries. The downside is that sometimes the MP3 downloads are not compressed properly and may not sound as good as some of the other formats.
» If you like the old, hard-to-get Hawaiian-kine records and tapes, check out cordinternational.com.
» EMusic.com is subscription-based service (25 cents per song after a free trial) for strictly independent bands. It's got over a million titles and works with both the iPod and MP3 players. The downside is it has few mainstream artists.
» Hawaiianmusicstore.com has a good variety of CDs plus plenty of downloadable streaming samples.
» As the popularity of the iPod has skyrocketed, Apple's iTunes has become the go-to place for legal downloads. Free music is available via podcasts, as well as music videos. The main downside is that itunes doesn't work with MP3-only players and some other platforms.
» Mele.com is the one of the best sources for Hawaiian CDs and cassettes on the Internet. It also streams KKCR FM out of Kauai live from this site.
» Rhapsody.com has a $9.99 per-month subscription model that allows you to stream the 1.3 million-plus songs in its library. You can buy songs for 99 cents that will work with an MP3 player but not an iPod. Musicmatch.com also will let you stream anything you want from a huge collection for $5 per month.
» Towerrecords.com has the most eclectic collection of the major retail stores. You can browse by genre, artist, format or whether it's a live recording.
is general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable. He can be reached at email@example.com