In this digital age, there are many different ways to purchase songs online. With the rise of music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, buying music may seem antiquated. However, there are still good reasons to purchase songs, whether digitally or physically. Purchased songs can be kept forever, played offline, and often sound better than streamed versions. This article will explore the main ways to buy music in today’s landscape.
Digital Music Stores
The most common way to purchase songs these days is through digital music stores like iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play. These allow you to buy individual song files or entire albums to download to your computer or mobile device. Prices per song are usually $0.99 to $1.29 and albums typically cost $7.99 to $11.99. After purchasing, the songs are yours to keep permanently and can be downloaded again if needed.
Here are the main steps to buying songs on digital music stores:
- Open the store’s website or app on your device
- Search for the song or album you want to purchase
- Click or tap the “Buy” or “Purchase” button
- Proceed through checkout and payment
- Select whether to download now or later
- Downloaded songs will appear in your music library
The main digital music store options include:
- iTunes – Apple’s music store works seamlessly with iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Mac/Windows computers.
- Amazon Music – Part of Amazon’s massive store, you can buy MP3s here à la carte or with an Unlimited subscription.
- Google Play – Android users can purchase songs through Google to download or stream.
- Bandcamp – Musicians can sell songs directly to fans through this indie-focused platform.
Physical Music Retailers
While digital purchases now dominate, you can still buy physical CDs and vinyl records from various retailers. This gives you a tangible product to collect and display. Physical music often sounds warmer and feels more special than digital files. Prices are comparable or sometimes cheaper than digital stores. You’ll receive a code to also download a digital version with most physical purchases nowadays.
Here are some leading physical music retailers:
|Independent record stores||Local shops around the world||Wide selection, including vinyl and rare titles|
|Amazon||Online only||Extensive catalog of CDs and vinyl|
|Walmart||Stores nationwide||Affordable options for latest and catalog releases|
|Target||Stores nationwide||Solid selection of new and popular CDs and vinyl|
The in-store process for buying physical music generally involves:
- Browsing shelves for the music you want
- Taking the CD/vinyl to the checkout counter
- Paying for the album
- Getting a receipt with download code (if included)
Digital Downloads on Band or Artist Websites
Many bands and solo artists now sell music directly through their own websites. They offer digital downloads of albums, EPs, and singles from their catalog. Purchasing directly from the artist gets more money into their pocket compared to streaming or iTunes purchases. Prices are usually comparable or slightly cheaper than major digital stores.
Here’s how to buy music from band or artist sites:
- Go to the musician’s official website
- Find the music or merch section
- Browse digital downloads and add to cart
- Complete checkout process to pay
- Receive download link(s) via email
- Download song/album files to computer or device
This direct-from-artist method eliminates middlemen and gets you music straight from the source. Just look on your favorite band’s website for a “Music” or “Store” section.
Scouring used music stores or thrift shops can yield treasure troves of classic, rare, and out-of-print CDs and records. While you won’t directly support artists by buying used, it’s a great way to expand your music library affordably. You may even find signed collector’s items. Used stock is hit-or-miss but offers the thrill of the hunt.
Places to find used CDs include:
- Record stores – Many buy/sell/trade used music
- eBay – Tons of CD auctions from sellers worldwide
- Thrift shops – Check the media section for random finds
- Craigslist – Search the “CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray” category in your area
- Decluttr – Resells used CDs graded for quality
Tips for buying used music:
- Inspect condition closely for scratches/damage
- Try listening to make sure it plays properly
- Check for original artwork/liner notes
- Negotiate fair prices with sellers if possible
- Use sites like Discogs to research value for rarer finds
While more time-consuming, hunting for used music can be rewarding and cost-effective for bulking up your physical media library.
Specialized Music Sites
Beyond general digital stores and artist websites, there are some more specialized sites for purchasing music:
Leading dance music download store with electronic/DJ genres like house, techno, trance, dubstep, and more. Known for new release exclusives.
Sells high-resolution audio albums and songs across many genres for discerning listeners. Files are uncompressed for optimal sound quality.
Another site providing very hi-fi music downloads tested and approved by audio engineers and producers.
Focused on hi-res streaming but includes a music store component with albums in up to 24-bit resolution.
Music retailer out of the UK specializing in electronic, techno, house, experimental, and independent music.
While streaming may be the new normal, purchasing music still has merits like owning files outright, collecting physical media, and supporting artists directly. Fortunately, music can now be bought through many diverse channels. iTunes and Amazon offer the convenience of mainstream digital downloads. Band websites provide a direct artist-to-fan means of getting music straight from the source. Physical CDs and vinyl can be bought new or used from online and brick-and-mortar retailers. And sites like Beatport and HDtracks cater to dance music and audiophile niches. With all these options, music lovers have countless ways to buy the songs, albums, and exclusive content they truly want to own forever.