Which MP3 download service is best?

There’s now a whole host of MP3 download services available for the discerning music fan. But which is the best? We tested the big names with so


Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

First we test the newcomer – the album is available at mp3.amazon.co.uk for £3 as part of its special introductory offer. The 1-click download option meant that we were listening to One Day Like This at 256kps, DRM-free in a jiffy.

The album is not available on eMusic.com, although there is a great selection of back catalogue and rare Elbow and we got loads of recommendations based on what other Elbow fans were downloading.

It’s on 7digital.com for 7.99 for near-lossless 320kps MP3, and on iTunes for the same price, but at a paltry 128kbps AAC.

Neil Young – Harvest

Available at 7digital for £7.90 at 256kps this time. In fact, there were a whopping 45 albums listed for Neil Young.

Amazon rather unhelpfully listed 2,088 songs for Neil Young when we searched for Harvest. Some rudimentary usability issues here, guys. We eventually found Harvest for £5.98.

It’s on iTunes Plus for £7.90, so it’s DRM-free and 256kps, twice the quality of vanilla iTunes tracks.

Harvest is not available at all at emusic, although it does give you a nice list of artists that you might like instead.


Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over

We thought that we’d try a new single to see how the sites fared. Our eMusic.com subscription (starting at £10.99 per month for 30 tracks) finally pays off. And thanks to the impressive Web 2.0 redesign, we were also able to browse YouTube vids, Flickr pics and even a Wikipedia entry on the band.

Amazon.com drew a blank, as did 7digital, while iTunes offered the single for £1.58 for on iTunes Plus, plus the opportunity to download an iTunes Live session for £2.99, again on iTunes Plus.


iTunes – Best for popular choices and games and apps.  But iTunes better watch its back – and scrap DRM pronto

Amazon – Best for those looking for one-click buying and for some thrifty introductory offers

7Digital – Best for those who like high-quality DRM-free tracks

eMusic – Best for the whole user experience – music, video and recommendations