For years I've sworn never to pay for music downloads. Even when I bought myself an iPod last fall and moved my entire MP3 collection to iTunes, I resisted the Apple Store's siren's call of cheap downloadable songs and albums, and stuck to buying CDs and finding music online from less-reputable sources. But when it came to finding recordings of the music for my upcoming NYRO concert, I didn't want to shop for CDs and my usual gray-market sites didn't have what I needed. That's when I turned to eMusic.com. I'd bookmarked an eMusic page a few months back because they had a recording of a viola concerto for which I bought the music many years back. The same CD had the Martinu Rhapsody-Concerto that we're playing next week. Seeing no other option, I broke out the credit card and became an eMusic subscriber. For $10 a month, I can download 25 MP3 files that are blissfully DRM-free (DRM being the big reason I never got into iTunes downloads). I found all the music for the concert, plus some other classical works I've been putting off buying for a while. I'm happy with the service, and my only complaint is that the search feature for classical music is either too broad or too narrow. I haven't figured out the right combination of search terms to find some of the music I want, without having to click through a four-page list of results.
The other reason I didn't get into online music downloads for so long is the physical media factor. I like buying CDs and getting the liner notes in the package. Plus, should MP3s ever become less viable as a file format, I've got the CDs so I can re-rip them into whatever format I need. But subscribing to eMusic is an admission that I listen to most of my music on my iPod or at my home PC, and not on my living room stereo. One of the things I'm looking for in a new home theater receiver is the ability to hook it up to my PC or my iPod so I can play MP3s in the living room. Which reminds me yet again that I need to get moving on my home theater upgrade. I don't want to be watching analog TV forever.