Rating? .000 best of its kind.

If you like this sort of thrng. it's the

What? www.mycokemr rsrc.r;om

What can I hear? t xclusives from [)1? and Jtmr l-lendrrx to new offerings from Alanrs Morrssette. lhe range rs pretty wrde but not lvlac cornpatrble.

How much? Indrvrdual tracks range from 80p to 00p while whole album downloads s art at 5040 depending on which package you select.

The test? It's all here from Snow Patrol to So Solid ()rew. Rating? 0... l asy to use and features a fair variety

(249? l rench pop tracks. apparently) but Mac users are out rn the cold again.

rafflm‘m seam...“

What? \.v\.v\'x.vrrrrrrimer)astoresr;o uk

What can I hear? With over 2:30.000 tracks to choose from it's a pretty varied bunch from Guns N' Roses and the Rasmus to Norah Jones.

How much? I rve rtrixlrt packages from S‘ l .50 by to $405» 3‘40 by card. which reduces each download to 80p. The test? It's exactly like browsing a Virgin store from the comfort of your desktop. Nothing more. nothing less. Rating? .0. Simple. but effectrve.

What? MSN mrrsrc club at ‘.‘.".‘.’\‘/.lltf§lt(10.!lk

What can I hear? Anastaria. leher. Mci ly and Will Young all feature in its top ten download chart. making this a site obvrously used by the kids. but the Divine Comedy. the Datsuns and Queens of the Stone Age make an appearance too.

How much? Credit packages start at 5‘ 1 .:'>0 by SMS which gets you 00 streams or one download. After that. the options are pre pay packages of 5?? $310 or a S‘ l 0 monthly subscription. Single tracks mostly cost 00p but vary up to S‘l/li); albums from S‘r‘.00.

The test? All the pop favourites are there. but no Graham Coxon. Back catalogues are sometimes limited. Rating? 0.. Good range of ways to pay with deals that mean the more credit you buy. the more you gain.

What? Freeserve Music Club ism/w.freesemecorrk What can I hear? New singles lKeane. the (ions). new albums rl’rrnce. N'l 'R'Dl and editors clrorce (Morrissey. Janet Jackson. the Bees).

How much? Credits trom S‘ l .:')0 by SMS up to $00.09 by card which wrll redrrce your track costs to 60p each. Alternatively. subscribe for HUS) a month for 0|th downloads rthat's (39p eachl or srrnply pay as you go by adding Items you want to a shopping basket.

The Test? Up and coming singles but no l'amon’? luck rt! Rating? 0.. l ots of vays to pay. and one of the cheapest if you're prepared to buy mass credit. Content focused on the new.

What? l lMV Downloads

wwwl .hmv.co.uk hmvweb navrgate.do’?pl’agelD 1008 What can I hear? Anything pop seems to be the name of the game here with the top suggestions including the one name wonders of Beyonce. Kylie and Jarnelra.

How much? l rther download by track for 00p or subscribe for $1.00 a month. allowing you to download a whopping :30 tracks.

The test? lhe range from Kraftwerk to Keane rs there if you are willing to look for rt. lhere is also the option of lllle compilations if you really want them (Err/s" Night Oil! or Urban [)eve/opment are avarlable for $31.00. Rating? 0.. It's not the best looking site. and payment options are limited. but :30 tracks for $34.00 is a good deal.

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What? wwwlraXthtrucom

What can I hear? l louse in all its funky variants from the likes of Southern l rred. Sr/e. Darren l merson's Underwater and more.

How much? 00p a track using World Pay.

The test? Armand Van llelden's newre and some old faves from Norman Cook's Mighty Dub Kats.

Rating? .0. l asy to use. if limited CHOICO. llas potential if more labels get on board.

A. 7

sold more than the biggest selling retail single. In general. sales-wise. downloads are still the marginal

format. btrt they now account for the same ntrrnber ol'

trnits sold as a vinyl l2"s. A case has already been made for the charts to inclttde downloads as part of Top 40 charts to help reflect a broader tntrsical spectrum. Many of the major internet service providers are getting in on the act with ()l)2. litrrope‘s biggest provider of' downloadable tracks. supplying Microsoft. HMV. Virgin and I’reeserye for their download sites. But what does downloading acttrally mean for the record buyer"? In practical terms. as mtrch as you want it to. When (‘Ds were launched in IDS} they were supposed to sound the death knell for vinyl. Vinyl is still in production 2| years later. albiet in continual. slow decline. Downloading relies on people haying MP3 players for playback or blank (‘I)s to burn a hard

copy so a (‘l) collection need never become something for the experts on the rill/ir/Irr'x Rruu/x/IHH'. The most significant development for the near future

might be the way in which we buy singles. ll'. instead of

hearing a song on the radio and going out and buying a (‘1) in from HMV. you would go online. download the single. and perhaps hear a few tnore tasters then buy the full album which could be purchased online or from a shop. It would be paid for by either credit card or SMS. meaning age is no bar to spending online.

We have always consumed and passed music on. whether it was our ancestors around a file sharing

songs. taping the charts oil the radio or burning a (‘1) ol‘ tracks downloaded from a website. Only the method of

consuming changes. and at the heart of. it good music will remain forever. Which means there‘s no reason not to embrace the future with open arms.


So just how easy is it? James Smart gets the real lowdown on legal downloading.

If legal downloads are to catch on. they‘ve got to be more accessible than their illegal equivalents. I decide to test various sites with a shortlist of three tunes to download: McFly's current single (the kids like them). the Pixies (they‘re back!) and Prince (he’s back too!). Unfortunately. iTunes isn't up in the UK yet, so I try wippit.com (‘Building your digital music collection may be criminally good value. but it's not a crime!’) It has no Pixies, but it suggests that people who searched for them also bought Luke Vibert and Kid Koala. Searches for McFly and Prince reveal exactly the same results. which is obviously great news for those who believe in electronica's crossover potential.

Morrissey is back too. so I decide to download ‘Last of the International Playboys’. which I once had on a Now tape. My order is less than the minimum amount of $31. so I pick up the Kid Koala track too. The pair come to a very reasonable $21.64. Sadly. the latter doesn't download and the former is in Windows format. I'm now on a Mac. A search via platform 002.com reveals that Tiscali. HMV. Freeserve and mycokemusiccom’s sites are all PC only too. I try bleepcom. which offers Warp‘s records online. lts featured record is ‘Faux'. by Two Lone Swordsmen. a pretty decent piece of nasty techno. lt's 99p. I download it. It works. Hooray!

I'm still a fair distance from my remit. so I find a PC and try MSN's Music Club via OD2. There. I discover the Pixies. Prince and McFIy. I have to give them money before I can get my hands on any music. but. for two quid. I manage to stream (which means you get to listen to it. but only once. for one penny) McFly‘s last single and a track of the Prince album. neither of which are quite as good as I thought they might be. and buy a BBC session version of the Pixies' ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven'. which is fab. | get a little thrill as I point. click and purchase: it all takes a matter of minutes. Until the problems are ironed out, there are going to be a lot of frustrated potential customers out there. But if you're prepared to persevere. it seems. you will reap the rewards.

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