When it comes to buying music for your phone most people stick to the service provided by their phone manufacturer or network. If your phone's an iPhone, you might use iTunes. If your phone's a Sony Ericsson, you might use Sony's PlayNow store. If you're on the Vodafone network you might use the Vodafone Music service. These stores might be convenient for you, but they are usually more convenient for your manufacturer or network, in terms of sales and profit!
This quick guide aims to introduce you to three best alternatives. These sites will not only save you money, but provide access to thousands, perhaps millions more songs, albums, movies or TV programs.
We have researched over 40 of the internet's top music stores and shortlisted them into the very best offerings. Furthermore, we explain why they're the best and provide a link so you can start downloading straight away.
(To skip the blurbs about each service, jump straight to our comparison table)
Dubbed by Rolling Stone Magazine as "...the iTune music store's cooler, cheaper cousin", eMusic have been around since 1998 and were one of the first online music retailers. They are the world's largest retailer of independent music, but also sell music from the Big Four record labels, making them the second largest online music store in the world, after iTunes.
- Best introductory offer ($10 or £10 of free music and 7 days free downloads)
- Lowest per-track cost after free trial (up to 50% compared to iTunes)
- Cheaper audiobooks than other retailers
- You can cancel anytime and keep your music
- They are also 'discover driven', with great editorials from their music experts and an unmatched recommendation and taste-matching engine
- Their service also syncs easily with iTunes and Windows Media Player
7diigtal are an innovative and fast expanding service supplying the US, Canada and most European countries. They have relationships with the Big Four record labels and operate on a simple pay-per-download basis, so if you don't like subscriptions then they are a great option. They also carry an extensive catalogue of videos, films, comedies, audiobooks making it a one-stop destination for all music and video downloads.
- Previews available up to 6 weeks prior to release (where possible)
- Integration with Spotify (Spotify users can download from 7digital)
- Integration with Songbird (7digital downloads are automatically added to your Songbird library)
- Ability to pay via SMS / text message
Napster needs little introduction. Originally infamous for illegal downloads, the brand and logos were acquired at auction and the company has since re-launched, gone legit and are currently owned by Best Buy.
They differ from the other two as their service is primarily streaming. This means that once you become a member, you can play their massive catalogue of 14 million songs across the air from any device, including phones, tablets, mp3 players, computers and home entertainment systems.
The service also gives you a certain amount of credit to download tracks to your device to keep permanently. This means that you can effectively hear full length previews before you commit to buying songs, which is an advantage of the standards 30 second preview.
- Largest streaming music catalogue in the world
- Lowest price streaming music subscription
- 60 streaming music stations and thousands of playlists available
- Napster credits so you can download a certain number of songs to your device each month