Still dominant in the digital theatre is iTunes. A younger brother of the Apple Company, the iTunes store now provides cheap tracks for as little as 69 cents. The company has agreed contracts with some the internet’s most famed sites such as Myspace and Youtube, resulting in a partnership which promotes iTunes as the leading destination for music downloads. This is a point of pride for the company, as it can claim that profits can be split between it – the provider – and the artists themselves.
The economic recession saw fewer and fewer purchasers turning to legal downloading, relying instead on black market sites to acquire their tunes. The seemingly high prices deflected internet users towards illegal sites where free music could mean infecting their computers with viruses and spyware programs. Web-distribution, claim companies such as Sony and Universal, is the source of such high prices and that consumers should pay to receive a flawless service. Yet Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and chief executive, accuses these giants of being “greedy”. Their stance on the matter, however, has not changed.
Lesser known websites have emerged to challenge this brittle monopoly by offering tracks at competitive rates. Like iTunes, these sites source as many songs as they can and distribute them for as low as nine cents apiece. Many, though, have sought to declaim their legal status and accuse websites such as the Russian-based allofmP3.com running an underground download operation. Lesser regulated markets, such as that provided by China, also profit from the illegal trade. Certain websites use labels such as ‘legal’ to sell their music, yet this could not be further from the truth.
In the face of this growing trade, however, are legitimate companies which seek to make a buck whilst avoiding the courts. These websites mimic iTunes by possessing a dense database of songs which they can distribute for as little as 9 cents apiece – a price which guarantees a legal conscious too. Services such as soundike.com can offer a library where everything is fifteen cents for each song. Search providers throw up millions of clicks which sell tracks for the bargain price of 10 cents per download. A simple search reveals sites such as mp3fiesta.com, mp3search.ru and mp3caprice.com. Slicing the price by one cent, however, is legalsounds.com – offering downloads at 9 cents each.
The competition for trade dominance is growing in the cyber world as more users log onto the internet. Search engines such as Google and bing.com shine a light on the millions of websites which offer alternatives to the black market sales. Finding cheap music on the internet is simply a matter of finding a trustworthy site.