iTunes Store

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iTunes is digital media software that provides many functions to people, it was created and is maintained by Apple .

Aside from its main functionality, iTunes was a huge, important, step forward in the digital media market. It allowed consumers to purchase competitively priced music without leaving their house. At 99 cents a track, it revolutionized the music industry and was the catalyst for other digital music outlets. The success of the music store was telling, as iTunes began expanding to a digital media hub for not only music, but movies, television shows, podcasts and music videos.

iTunes accounts for 70% of worldwide online digital music sales, and it recently sold it's sixth-billionth song.

Rhapsody

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Rhapsody , launched in 2001 and owned by Realnetworks, is one of the pioneer online music services. Unlike iTunes, it's selling point is their subscription based service, allowing users to pay a flat monthly fee ($12.99/mo or $14.99/mo for the added ability to transfer songs to a portable device) for "all you can eat" music. They do allow the purchase of individual tracks, but the bulk of their business is the subscription model. Users are able to stream, on-demand, any song from Rhapsody's seven million song library to their computers, and if they're lucky enough to own one, their iPhone.

The negative is simple, just like the other subscription based services, once you stop paying, you lose the ability to play your music. Also, Rhapsody's file format is proprietary which can't be played on iPods and is restricted to less-popular portable media players.

Zune Marketplace

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The Zune Marketplace debuted in 2006 as part of the launch for the original Zune media player created by Microsoft . Using the same model as Rhapsody, consumers are able to buy a Zune Pass ($14.99/mo) which allows them to stream and download as much music as they want.

Arguably the weakest of the three mainstays, it suffers from the same downfalls as Rhapsody, inability to put your music on whatever device you please, and the loss of playability if you were to discontinue your Zune Pass. Plus, it's song library is three million, which is meager when compared to Rhapsody's seven, and iTunes 10 million.


Related Links:

Amazon MP3 Downloads - Amazon has recently come in to the market, offering DRM free MP3 downloads for 99 cents a track.
Rhapsody for iPhone - The recently released iPhone App for use with the Rhapsody service.
Zune HD - The new version of the Zune portable media player.