You’d be surprised how complicated some stores make it just to buy a few songs off the internet. The two main areas to look out for are payment flexibility and download ease. You want a store that allows you to pay in the way that suits you and you want to get through the whole process relatively quickly. Similarly, once you’ve paid, you want to be listening to your music with as little hassle as possible.
Having only bought one song from their sister site, Indiestore, I give this recommendation cautiously, but it would appear they are doing everything right. They use a ‘shopping cart’ system but it seems to run incredibly smoothly and you have the ability to pay with both credit card and paypal (my personal choice). On the downloading side, albums can be downloaded as one package, which is a must (and sadly not the case some other stores). It also conveniently keeps track of all your previously bought files, should you need to redownload them.
What impresses me most about 7digital is that it caters to both regular users and one-off customers. Unlike client systems (iTunes, eMusic), where you have to install software and sign-up, 7digital allows you to come along and buy an album with relatively little commitment. It’s just like a purchase anywhere else on the web. But for those who do want to buy more frequently, there are also mechanisms in place to manage all your files, including the handy ability to access them away from your main computer.
Runner Up: iTunes
The ability to buy iTunes credit at nearly any music store is a huge bonus, especially for the young, but it isn’t the most efficient system. You have to keep returning to the shop and you’ll often end up with $1.50 of unusable credit. Paypal is sorely missed (though I may be biased). However, once the software is installed and your credit is in, buying music with iTunes is an absolute dream. Everything just works! It’s quick and its simple. Apple certainly know their stuff.
What Is Needed:
Again, the main problem here is that each store will do some things right, but not others. If you took the best parts from each store, you could make the perfect digital music store. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Either way, these are the main features I think every store should be aiming to include:
- Batch downloading (whole albums at a time)
- A page to view and redownload all purchased files
- Support all major payment options
- 1-click purchases (after buying some credit)
- Ability to buy and access to files from any computer