What music downloading software matches your requirements?

Almost any online music store features it's own music downloading software. We give you an overview about their strengths and weaknesses

With the success of Apple's iPod and the online music store iTunes a lot of copycats entered the scene. We now have about ten serious players on the online market of music file distribution and they are about to become more.

As any of them wants to play it's own game, they all have their own software to let you download, organize, burn CDs and transfer your files to external equipment.

The question is, which of these programs can manage these tasks efficiently and with ease.

Following programs are roughly in sequence of their usefulness.

Music Downloading Software for Pay Services

  1. iTunes/Apple (Mac/PC)
    iTunes is a software that is specially designed for using the iPod but is also a good player and organizing program. It is all a touch easier and more human than with other programs. Holding about 80% of the market share in the on-line music download service arena it has to make something right. Convenience is the key of it's success, not compatibility, because all songs downloaded with iTunes are coded in the AAC audio format.

  2. Rhapsody/Listen.com (PC)
    Probably the slickest interface after apple's iTunes. The Rhapsody service used to be focused on streaming audio (no wonder since it's owned now by RealAudio). It offers now Rhapsody To Go, which let's you transfer your tunes to an external player.
    Good overall player with some nice features.

  3. Windows Media Player/Microsoft (PC)
    Yes, your standard Windows Media Player is also a music downloading software for the MSN Music service. If you never used this function before, go on and try it now. You can choose from a variety of online stores (except iTunes) but it's less convenient and more complicated than apple's iTunes.

  4. MusicMatch Juke Box/MusicMatch (PC)
    The music match software is available in two flavors. The free Jukebox and Jukebox Plus which burns and rips faster, lets you print custom CD labels and covers, find duplicate tracks, etc... Functionality is pretty similar to the Windows Media Player, so I can see no need to change if you are familiar with the Windows Media Player.

  5. Napster to go/Napster (PC)
    The positive of the Napster software is that looks very simple. Yes, you could use it as your music central to organize your tunes, but it's far behind other music downloading software. You can only rip in WMA and installing an mp3 plug-in is a tedious task. You need an ID and login just to browse music and in some countries it doesn't work at all. Not recommended.

  6. Yahoo Music/Yahoo (PC)
    Cheap music service but buggy interface. It looks somehow similar to Rhapsody, but probably needs a few versions to emerge into a really good player. Reads and rips into a lot of Audio Formats. Low compatibility with external player.

  7. Web Browser (Mac/PC)
    The simplest way to download is of course by your web Browser. MSN Music, eMusic and Wal-Mart let you download without proprietary software just by using your standard Web -browser.


If you own an iPod or are interested in legal music downloads from the biggest online catalog of music, than choose iTunes.

The best service for streaming audio is Rhapsody with a good player and lots of artist information.

For browsing more than one online music store and organizing all kinds of media files, you can stay with the Windows Media Player.