7Digital.com music-sharing siteNOTE: Pricing for this service is in UK currency 7digital.com is a music store offering WMA, ACC and MP3 files for download. WMA files start at 79p but feature digital rights management (DRM) technology, while MP3 files are DRM-free and priced at 99p.
• Download various audio formats • Sell your own music online
The company also offers indiestore.com, a service that allows anyone to create their own download store through which they can sell their own records. In comparison, iTunes, Amazon and the other big-name stores won't deal with unsigned acts or labels. Up to four tracks can be made available for sale.
7Digital.com offers two types of account: Starter is free, while Pro requires a one-off registration fee of £75. Both accounts let you set prices yourself, but any tracks sold from a Pro account qualify for inclusion in the charts. Note that 7Digital takes a 30 percent cut on any tracks sold with a Starter account; a 20 percent slice is taken on songs sold using a Pro account.
Verdict 7digital.com is suitable for anyone who fancies giving Simon Cowell a run for his money.
Where: www.7digital.com How Much? Registration fee of £75
eMusic.com music-sharing site
Digital music store eMusic specialises in songs outside the mainstream. The eMusic website offers more than 3.5 million downloadable tracks from 27,000 independent labels across every genre of music, from rock and classical to hip-hop, blues, country and folk. It has relationships with well-known independent labels such as Touch and Go, Merge and Sun Records and claims to be "the world's largest retailer of independent music and the world's second-largest digital music retailer overall".
• More than 3.5 million tracks available • DRM-free MP3 files
The subscription based service costs (minimum) US$9.99 a month. For that, users can download up to 30 high-bitrate MP3 files per month. The files don't feature DRM, so users can make as many copies as they like for personal use — whether it's burning the music to disc or transferring it to a digital audio player.
Giving eMusic a try earns you 50 free tracks, which you can keep regardless of whether you become a regular. If you subscribe, you can install a toolbar that provides a free MP3 download every day, the ability to search eMusic's entire catalogue quickly, technology that analyses your previous downloads and suggests new music you may like and the ability to share other members' playlists.
Suitable for people that prefer more obscure music that's not found in the commercial top 40.
Where: www.emusic.com How Much? 30 downloads for US$9.99 per month, 50 downloads for US$14.99 per month, 75 downloads for US$19.99 per month
Virb.com music-sharing siteVirb.com is a social-networking site that works in the same way as MySpace.com. Users create their own website from scratch or by using the customised templates provided by Virb. Their site can then be filled with photos, videos, blogs or audio.
• Mix streaming with social networking • Display your most listened to songs from iTunes on your Virb.com profile
Unlike MySpace, Virb offers a software plug-in for iTunes, which tracks the songs played in the program. This can then be displayed in the Recent Songs, Top Artists, Top Songs and Top Albums section of your website, letting your friends know just what tracks you're rocking your socks off to. Virb also uses the data to help users find their favourite artists on the social network, let you know when they will be appearing nearby and even recommend new music based on your current tastes.
Meanwhile, Virb's blog lets you help it to make the social-networking site better by discussing new features and learning how to customise your profile.
Suitable for social networkers looking to recommend their favourite music and explore new acts based on their tastes.
Where: www.Virb.com How Much? FREE
WaTunes music-sharing siteWaTunes.com works in a similar way to CDBaby.net, offering a platform for unsigned artists and independent record labels to sell their music through online digital music stores such as iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody, without sacrificing copyright.
• Sell your own music through iTunes and other digital music stores • Upload your own tracks using FTP
A free account lets users upload their albums via FTP. The site sets the price of the downloadable tracks and makes them available through its selected digital music store partners. Users get 90 percent of any tracks sold; 10 percent goes to WaTunes.
The site has partnered with RoyaltyShare to provide users with detailed sales reports and billing statements. WaTunes demands exclusivity from its artists — you must cancel any existing accounts before signing up.
Suitable for first-time music sellers.
Where: www.watunes.com How Much? FREE
We7.com music-sharing site
Believe it or not, there are some free, legal ways to share music online. We7.com attaches personalised adverts to the beginning of songs. The brainchild of ex-Genesis member Peter Gabriel, entrepreneur Steve Purdham and financial expert John Taysom, the service uses MediaGraft's patent-pending technology to provide free and DRM-free downloads. Ad deals last for up to four weeks. They target people based on age, gender and location, and play when consumers are on or offline.
• Legally download free MP3 files • Fans' reviews get new artists published
As well as offering tracks by signed musicians, the site aims to act as a platform for unsigned acts. We7's 'TasteMaker community' of artists, band members and fans review new artists to determine whether they're good enough to be published. Listener reviews earn artists the right to have their music downloaded from the site.
Suitable for those who want free, legal downloads that can be burned to disc, and who aren't bothered by stitched-on ads.
Where: www.We7.com How Much? FREE