The online MP3 Bazaar

For many people, downloading music is still a matter of going online, Googling the track and then trying to get it free of cost — a lot simpler than going to a store, and making one’s wallet lighter, isn’t it? But the free route comes with a whole series of headaches, moral and practical. Once a relative rarity, online music stores are getting popular in India and often offer music at very competitive rates — definitely a whole lot cheaper than purchasing a CD. Here’s a look at four online stores that can attend to your music fix, legally and without costing the earth:

iTunes Store
Yes, the “world’s no 1 music store” is finally here. Accessed through iTunes on computers (it works on Windows as well as Mac), the iTunes Store is perhaps the best place for those looking for a slice of international music at affordable rates — a CD that could set you back by close to Rs 400 is available in download form for a quarter of the price. And there are millions of songs to choose from. While the Indian selection is not exactly in the same league, if you are looking for a well-known number, you are likely to find it. Sound quality is spectacular, and easily the best we have seen. Purchases can be made on a per-track or per-album basis — again, no messing with subscriptions. However, remember that this music is tailored for Apple devices (Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods) — you can download it on a Windows PC but transferring it to a non-Apple machine is going to be quite a task.

Nokia Music
Perhaps one of the most underrated music purchase services in the country, Nokia Music has a vast repository of songs across different genres and languages. In fact, when it comes to Indian music, we can safely say that we have not seen an online music shop that offers as many options. There are 26 genres ranging from the routine Bollywood to Carnatic Classical and to Bhojpuri. If you have a Nokia device, there is a fair chance that you can get a subscription for unlimited downloads from the store for a specific period. You can also opt to renew your subscription using Oxigen (Rs113 per month for unlimited downloads) or by picking up a renewal pack from Vodafone or Idea (as of now, these are the operators supported). We love the seamless way in which one can download music from one’s handset, although sound quality is not always the greatest. Just remember that this works only on Nokia devices.

Flipkart might be best known for selling books and electronics, but many people don’t know that it actually has a very good MP3 music collection too. There are more than two dozen genres across a number of languages, and you don’t have to worry about buying any subscriptions — you can purchase each track or collection as per your preference. And interestingly, there are no flat rates as on some other sites, wherein some tracks cost more, while others are available for a lesser price. The Bollywood music collection is their forte but even the rates at which some of the international tracks are offered is impressive (a new Green Day album at Rs 108? We like!). Very much the best option for those wanting to browse and pick music, without being tied down to a particular type of device.
One of the best-known players in the digital entertainment business in India, Hungama (.com) also comes with a formidable array of music on its online store that one can download either directly to one’s computer or transfer to a device, or download directly on to one’s handset, via GPRS/WAP/3G. There are a number of payment options available ranging from the simple Rs 10 per track downloaded to Rs 99 which lets you download unlimited tracks over a period of 30 days. This comes with music in three categories — Bollywood, international and Gujarati. While the Bollywood collection is excellent, pickings in the other categories are slim right now, but are likely to improve in the coming days. We really think the international section could do with a boost. A great option for those who want to pay once and then grab as much as they can!

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