There are more than 500 digital music services around the world offering consumers the opportunity to access up to 26 million tracks. They are divided into a number of different types:
These stores enable you to buy individual tracks or albums, much as you would in a physical record store. They typically allow you to listen to a sample of a track before deciding whether to buy it. The most well-known download store worldwide is iTunes, but there are many others offering music at highly competitive prices.
These services offer you access to a vast library of tracks for a low monthly fee. You can usually listen to these services on your computer, mobile phone and tablet, creating and sharing playlists with other subscribers or streaming them to your social network profile. The most well-known subscription services worldwide are Deezer and Spotify, but there are many others in the marketplace.
Advertising-supported services enable you to legally listen to large catalogues of music for free, while artists and record labels receive income from the advertising placed on them.
Using audio advertising-supported streaming services is similar to listening to commercial radio, except that you have control of the playlist. Several of these audio services also offer subscription packages that enable you to drop the advertising. The most well-known audio streaming services worldwide are Deezer and Spotify, but there are many other offerings.
Using music video advertising-supported services is similar to watching a dedicated music TV channel, except that you have control of the playlist. An advertisement often plays before your chosen video starts or runs along the bottom. The most well-known video streaming services worldwide are VEVO and YouTube, but there are many others also available.
For most of these services, all you need to start browsing all these services is an internet connection, ideally broadband*. You can then usually take your music collection with you on a portable player, such as an iPod, your mobile phone or tablet computer.
*See individual services for further information on specific requirements