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Buying CDs Versus Using Online Music Downloading Services


Years ago the only way to purchase music would be in person at a music store. The times have changed, however, as consumers are now able to simply download music with the click of a button. Many music fans are willing to buy music through both methods, but if there was only one method of buying music, which one would be the better choice?

1. Price
One of the primary concerns of any consumer is the price of a product. Unsurprisingly, downloading tunes is usually cheaper, as there is no shipping or packaging costs. Although some CDs can be cheaper through sales, most albums are generally cheaper through downloading the mp3s. Many services, such as iTunes Music Store, offer downloads at 99 cents a song. Advantage: Online Downloading Services

2. Convenience
In general, downloading online is much more convenient than having to go to a store and buying it in person. You’re able to get the songs virtually immediately and can just plug it into your iPod or other mp3 players with relative ease. Advantage: Online Downloading Services

3. Selection
Although most online services are constantly updating their selection of music with new albums, practically all albums are released in the form of a CD. There are a few “download exclusive” songs, but in general you can buy any album in CD format. However, since a selection in a music store can be somewhat limited due to limited space, an online downloading service could have potentially have a bigger selection. For those that want CDs, online websites like Amazon.com practically offer any CD you could think of. Advantage: Tied

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4. Backups
People that buy CDs essentially only have one copy of the album. If they decide to make a copy of it because they’re worried it might get scratched, they may just end up making a copy of something that they don’t even need. With mp3s, you’re able to just have a backup on your computer that you can easily retrieve. If your music gets corrupted or some technical error happens, there’s really no worries. Plus, having it on your computer doesn’t take up any real space, just computer space. Advantage: Online Downloading Services

5. Quality
CDs usually are said to have better quality than mp3s, but I think most people wouldn’t even know the difference if a song was being played on an mp3 or a CD. Of course, there are some people out there that can probably tell the difference, but the majority won’t be able to. Advantage: Tied (but CDs if you have good ears)

6. Packaging
This is probably the thing that separates most music fans. Many people are used to and enjoy having the artwork that comes with an album. There is much more of an attachment to an actual CD and its artwork and case than compared to an mp3. Some people such as myself really think that part of the musical experience is the packaging and the way it is presented. Often times the artwork comes with lyrics, which can be quite useful as well. Others, however, may argue that packaging and CDs just take up space in a world where we always feel like we need more space. Some downloading services even have the option of downloading the artwork, as they understand that this does matter to some people. This one really is a matter of taste though and there is no right answer. Advantage: Just a matter of taste

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So online downloading services are great in that their albums are generally cheaper and more convenient. You’re also able to just have a backup on your computer in case something goes wrong. Albums in CD format don’t have any clear cut advantage, though they are said to be of better quality. Selection varies from place to place, but if you look online on sites such as Amazon.com, you can find practically any album in CD form. Packaging and artwork is probably the most important reason why everyone doesn’t just jump to online downloading. It really is a matter of taste and I’m one of those people that really enjoys having an actual CD, despite the benefits that exist when downloading them online. I guess we should all just be glad that we live in a world where we’re allowed to use either of the two methods.