If like me your conscience and honest nature does not allow you to simply download (AKA steal) MP3’s from the various music sharing sites then I think it would be reasonable to share some of the digital purchasing options available to you. I am not going to include any kind of music delivery that tries to apply DRM or hardware lock in of any kind.

CD -  The safe route, if not the most cost effective, is to simply purchase the CD and rip the contents of said CD at the desired bit rate.

iTunes (MP3 Catalogue – approx 10 million) – I have written about this before so I will be brief. MP3 downloads are usually $1.29, however, they are including premium price tag for higher average bit rates and the better artists.

Napster (MP3 Catalogue – approx 6 million) – You get 1, 3 or 12 month subscription at $5 per month, in exchange you get 5 MP3s a month and unlimited streaming of all music to your preferred PC browser.

Zune Marketplace (MP3 Catalogue – approx 5 million) – The MP3 selection is growing rapidly (More than 90% are MP3). The Zune Pass (@ $14.99 per month) provides lease ownership of millions of DRM tracks but you get to keep any 10 tracks, which also includes MP3s. Now If you happen to purchase DRM tracks from the Zune Marketplace check the DRM properties of the track inside the Zune software (right click on the track and click properties). Most DRM tracks can be burned to CD and you can simply turn and around and rip them to MP3.

eMusic (MP3 Catalogue – approx 6 million) – Provides another subscription based service where $11.99 per month gets you 24 track downloads per month. Price per track varies between $0.40 and $0.6 depending on the plan you opt for. This is the best price point of all the the options. However, the selection while large does not include some of the more popular artists. If you are looking to develop a Jazz collection this is the place to go.

Amazon MP3 (MP3 Catalogue – approx 2 million) – Most songs are between $0.89 and $0.99, and most albums are between $5.99 and $9.99, however, Amazon have a variety of ways to purchase MP3s at a cheap rate. Most of these deals revolve around the purchase of less than stellar albums for as little as $5. This is balanced against also listing some MP3’s at a premium cost of $1.99.

Rhapsody (MP3 Catalogue – approx 5 million) – $12.99 a month gets you unlimited streaming from any PC and any browser and MP3 prices seem to vary based on the popularity of the tracks.

Plenty of choices … if you are actually still buying music.

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