I admit it. For years, I was an illegal music downloader. The RIAA would probably have had a good case against me if they caught me, but in my defense, I was a principled downloader. I railed against the selfish and conservative recording industry and their $18.99 Sam Goody CDs and their terrible digital stores that only provided a fraction of a fraction's worth of available music. I swore that if anyone ever came out with a comprehensive legal downloading site, I would renounce my ways and purchase music again.
Luckily, iTunes came along and satisfied my demands. After using iTunes exclusively for a few years I was able to buy most of the music I wanted at reasonable prices with little inconvenience. However, after a time I time I became annoyed: limited burnability of purchased music (only 7 burns in one playlist? wtf?), lower sound quality, and .m4p (.m4a if you're lucky) formatting of songs. iTunes had become ruler of the market and it seemed like no one was able to secure contracts like they had with so many different labels.
That's when I turned to Amazon. Amazon has an incredible used CD collection that you can buy at dirt cheap prices - I've bought amazing albums for as low as $1. I still like buying the physical CD since it allows me to rip the songs at a higher quality and also have a permanent backup in case something should ever happen my computer and 2 backup external hard drives. I'm a bit paranoid.
As if I didn't like Amazon enough, they go and roll out an iTunes-crushing mp3 store that rocks harder than Zach de la Rocha on fire (I don't know, I just picture him screaming "Bulls on Parade" louder if he's on fire). Slowly but surely Amazon is accumulating an incredible library of mp3's for purchase.
Instead of iTunes' $.99 songs, Amazon's are $.89. Instead of iTunes' average $9.99-10.99 ablums, Amazon's are $6.99-8.99. Instead of iTunes' 128kbps quality, .m4p format with DRM-protection that only plays on iPods, Amazon gives you 256kbps quality in user friendly .mp3 format that is DRM-free all the time and compatible with all players.
iTunes tried to do DRM-free music at higher quality, but they called it iTunes Plus and charged you like $1.19 a song. F*#@ that. Now with some stiff competition, iTunes is trying to do iTunes Plus for $.99 a song on some of their new music. Sorry iTunes, too little too late. I've taken my business elsewhere.
So buy your music at Amazon. And here's me getting off my soapbox.