I was a big fan of allofmp3.com
The demise of the site was drawn out and painful, as the ability for mp3 download fans to recharge their accounts became more and more difficult. In July 2007, the site was finally shut down by the Russian authorities, under international pressure (although it’s owner was later found not guilty of any illegal activity by the Russian courts).
The site’s critics claimed that no royalties were ever paid back to artists, yet others believed this was happening through a Russian royalty organisation. The truth is unknown – I work on the theory that if I could buy a legit cd for a couple of dollars equivalent in Moscow, why couldn’t I download it for a similar price? (saving the airfare of course!)
And there lies the argument – what is legal in one country may not necessarily be the case in another. But where does the law apply? The arguments will continue, but if you’ve got this far I’m sure you’ll want to know if a similar high quality, low cost music store exists to fill the big old boots of allofmp3.
In truth, there are tens of sites out there (mostly in Russia / Ukraine etc) offering low cost downloads – some of these were around when allofmp3 was still available, others sprang up not long after it went down. Most of these operate on the same principle – you register, credit your account in advance and your balance decreases as you download music. Once your balance is next to nothing, you re-credit your account and off you go again!
The sites recommended below are effectively direct replacements, and have all been consistently available for the past six months. Crediting your account at these sites is straightforward (some others offer very convoluted routes for your credit card……), and they all offer bonus credits in slightly different ways. Most importantly though, they all offer high quality, DRM free mp3 downloads at a fraction of the cost of ‘western’ (who mentioned cowboys?……..) sites.
And the best 3 direct alternatives are………
The best for me is MP3Fiesta. Despite it’s cheesy name and odd colourscheme (that’s the negatives out of the way), it offers an enormous range of 90,000 albums by 21,000 artists – almost all available for $1 per album. Individual tracks are available at around 10 cents, and there is a free preview to check before you buy. New albums are added daily, covering all genres of music. Registration is free – you top up your account using visa or mastercard and download til the cows come home. If you top up by $30 or more, your account is credited an extra 10% – 33 albums for $30 anybody? Downloading is carried out track by track from your own download area by right clicking each song and using the ‘Save target as…’ option. The only downside is you cannot download an album in one hit – however the very low cost makes up for this small inconvenience.
The site has been around since allofmp3 was in it’s death throes – I must admit initially I wasn’t too keen as I was loyal to allofmp3 and felt somehow it was taking advantage – however, putting sentiment to one side, the site is easily as good as it’s more famous predecessor and it has a strangely similar feel………
Soundsbox.com is a very slick looking site (despite the disturbing looking guy on the homepage!). It’s downloads are slightly more expensive at 14 cents per track, with a 20% overall discount if you order a complete album – albums come in around the $1.50 mark. There are no claims as to how many albums are in the database, but approx 50 new albums are added every day, and the back catalogue is substantial (based on my searching for mp3 replacements for my vinyl collection). If you top up $30, a bonus of 15% is awarded. This percentage increases the more you deposit, up to 45% for a $100 top up. Albums or individual tracks are collected in a shopping basket (like an online music store), and these can be added to or removed before clicking on checkout. Once checked out, your music can be downloaded. This is achieved through Soundbox’s own interface (a very quick download to your pc). All the tracks purchased are then downloaded to your choice of location on your hard drive.
If any of that sounds complicated, in reality it is very straightforward and the site offers video tutorials to show you exactly how to go through the process. One thing to be aware of is that Soundsbox can take up to 12hrs to authorise an account payment, due to each transaction being manually checked – this is only really an issue when you open your account if you’re in a hurry to download.
Mp3Sale.ru is also a very professional looking site, with downloads at 15 cents per track, and as with Soundsbox, there is a 20% discount if you download a complete album. The database consists of 107,000 albums from 27,000 artists – album prices vary from $1.20 up to $3, purely dependant on number of tracks. Bonus top ups are available for deposits of $30 ($10 bonus) up to $50 ($50 bonus!). The downloading is carried out without any additional download software, and complete albums can be downloaded as one zipped file. Payment is through the recognised Chronopay, which also handled payments to allofmp3.