I’ve been considering eMusic membership for some time. It’s a music download site, but unlike all of its serious competitors, it doesn’t load the music down with DRM. That means you can play the music on an iPod, on a Dell Music player, on your computer – on anything that can play MP3’s. Of course, you can always burn the music to a CD, too. It’s also cheap. For $10 a month (the cost of one iTunes CD (if you’re lucky), or about 2/3rds of a Target CD) you can download 40 songs a month. Because it’s a membership, you pay $10 dollars whether you download your songs or not, but if I can’t find one CD to download every month, then I might be comatose.

Yes, there’s a catch. There has to be, right, if you can download legal MP3’s for 25 cents each (compared to iTunes 99 cents)? Most of the music on eMusic is from independant labels, or is out of print, or is otherwise not the darling of the RIAA. You won’t find 50 Cent on eMusic (though you’ll find a 50 Cent tribute CD), and you won’t find Madonna or Britney Spears (though Madonna has an unauthorized audio biography). You will find the latest two Matthew Sweet albums. You will find Delerium’s catalogue, the best of the Cult, the best of Dead Can Dance, one of Sigur Ros’ earlier works, and a surprisingly strong collection of electronica (like BT and Crystal Method). I think the strength of the site lies not in filling in the gaps of your top 40 collection, but in finding music similar to what you already know you like, by artists you didn’t know you liked yet. NB: I couldn’t find a way to browse the stores without logging in, but you get a free trial period where you can browse the site and download a handful of songs to try the service out (make sure you cancel if you decide you don’t like it, or your credit card will be charged.

If this sounds interesting, let me know. I can check the site to see if any artists you like are there. I can send you an invitation, which means you’ll get the same free 25 song trial period, but I get a few extra downloads if you decide to stick and I can add you to my friends list (huzzah!). Or you can just go check it out.

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