While searching for free music one day, I compared the main features of competing subscription-driven music download sites Napster, Real Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music Unlimited, and eMusic, and specifically, their free music trials. Free trials cost nothing, are fun, and provide a snapshot of the music industry’s evolving effort to adapt to a world listening to music online.
Each music site has good points and bad points. I compiled all the free music download trial info I gathered into a single, all-powerful, comparison chart — click on the thumb below to check it out:
(click to enlarge)
- They all offer different types of ‘value’ It really is worth trying each online music site to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. For example, Napster has the biggest online song catalog, Yahoo! Music Unlimited is the cheapest music service, Rhapsody is award-winning and awesome to use, and eMusic lets you keep its DRM-free mp3s forever. What you pick depends on what fits your musicdownload consumption preferences; try each for 5 minutes, and you’ll get the gist.
- The eMusic free trial is a no-brainer. The music trial lets you keep 25 free MP3 downloads no matter what. That’s 2-3 albums worth of free mp3 downloads! It’s also the only music site providing iPod compatible music files — MP3s, as opposed to DRM-ed WMA files, which the other music sites use.
- Real Rhapsody is awesome. In my opinion, anyway. And it’s the least known, go figure. With editorial content, tons of ways to share your playlists and preferences (blog/email/IM), great music discovery systems, TiVo compatability, and the Rhapsody To Go option (which costs more), it’s not surprising it’s won as many awards as it has.
- Free MP3 players are good, too. If you’re looking for a new mp3 player, consider Napster To Go. If you subscribe for a full year, you get a free mp3 player, which is pretty cool. Btw, Yahoo Music is the only option that is PC-bound; hence its cost.
- Music subscriptions = Cable TV. As long as you pay, you can play…however, it seems way more acceptable for TV than for music…perhaps that’s because music has a higher “repeat” value. I’ll listen the White Album all day, but will not be queuing up the famous SoupNazi Seinfeld episode any time soon; i.e. we like to own our music. Perhaps the whole "Music Like Water" thing theorists bullsh#t about still has a chance. Unlimited access to millions of songs can be daunting, so music recommendation engines, playlists, channels, and/or stations are key to enhance your music experience.
- Other music sites? I’d like to further compare these against smaller music sites like AOL Music and Live365, or even Pandora and Jango. I’ll leave that for another time. (The table won’t fit much more, anyway, and I’m lazy. 🙂 )
In Summary. Yup, I like free music. I’d recommend doing the eMusic trial for the free MP3 downloads, at least, and trying at least one of the other subscription services. But that could just be me – I love playing with this kind of stuff. Hopefully, my Free Music Trials: Head-To-Head chart will help you decide which music trials make the most sense. Of course, you can skip the chart stuff and go right to the coupon sign-up pages here: