When the free-wheeling version of Napster bit the dust after the RIAA went full-bore against it, I was weary of downloading music. My son continued to use Kazaa and Limewire, but after all the horror stories of grannies getting sued for a few grand due to their grubby little grandkids' nasty download habits, when they themselves didn't even know how to turn their computers on, I laid down the law. There would be NO illegal downloading in my house. I found plenty of songs to download from the labels' own sites and artists' sites to keep me in new music for awhile.
Then I wanted more. I downloaded iTunes, even though I didn't own an iPod. I wasn't happy with the DRM situation or the 99-cent per song cost, so I checked other services and settled on emusic. For 15 bucks a month, I can download 65 songs, plus an additional free song every day. That works out to about 16 cents per song. My kind of deal. There's no DRM to deal with and the songs are fairly good quality (The average bit rate used for VBR on eMusic is 192k.) I can play the songs with any music player, and now that I have an iPod, I can load them in playlists with ease. (I do have a quibble with the iTunes organization, since it creates iTunes music folders, thereby creating two copies of every song file and filling up my drive. I hate Apple sometimes.) Emusic is loaded with music from indie bands or music from artists on small labels, so I love to sift through it all. That's what I love about it.
What do I hate? Well, let's say I'm browsing through the lists of artists and I spot "Chuck Berry." Cool! I can find some good old rock and roll! DING! Then I click his name and see what's available. At first glance it seems like a huge catalog. That's exciting. BUT. BIG BUT HERE. But the offerings, upon investigation, are often crappy-quality live recordings, and sometimes they are not the original artist at all. You really have to listen to clips before you download! I hate having to be wary of the music offered by such a big name in the download business.
So, I do love emusic most of the time. No, I can't download U2 or any other big-name bands. I can grab that stuff, if I want to, at iTunes or some other spot. But I do love finding little gems like The Pipettes, Chris Pureka, Bow Thayer & The Euphorians, or Moonbabies and feeling like I got them for a steal.