Cheapest places to download music and TV
Don't be tempted by the dodgy download sites - these are the places to get your music and TV legally, for pennies!
We may be heading towards an election, but believe it or not the Government has actually done something tangible in the last few weeks.
The Digital Economy Bill, possibly the most enticingly named piece of legislation ever devised, has now been passed through parliament and will soon be implemented. And it’s raised more than few eyebrows.
Essentially the Bill aims to crack down on piracy and the illegal sharing of music and video files over the internet through peer-to-peer systems and torrents. Just how successful it will be is open to fevered debate, with Clause 18 under particular scrutiny.
The Clause as it currently exists covers ‘rights holders’ and their responsibility to block websites hosting pirated material – in other words it might require broadband providers to block sites like YouTube, which is utterly ridiculous.
So if you want to stay on the right side of the law, but you still want to download music and films, what are your options?
Where else could I possibly start than with the behemoth that is iTunes?
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The site boasts a massive catalogue of more than 11 million files, encompassing music, films, TV shows and podcasts.
Annoyingly, there has been a bit of an upward shift in the cost of music on the site, with the majority of the big chart hits costing you 99p per song, though you will find many songs available for 79p each. Albums generally will set you back £7.99, though there are plenty of special offers on.
There’s also a very impressive range of films and TV shows available to download, completely legally from iTunes. You can purchase them by episode, or entire series. So if you want to stock up on the brilliant The Inbetweeners, it will set you back £1.89 per episode, or £9.99 for the whole of the first two series.
In terms of music, one big negative is the inability to stream music – if you want to listen to any music, you’ll have to pay for each individual track.
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Personally, for me, the site of choice tends to be Amazon.
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For starters, they regularly offer great discounts on new releases with a number of tracks available for as little as 49p, so long as you time it right. At the time of writing, for example, the current number 1 single ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ by Scouting for Girls is available for this bargain price (though to be honest that’s still more than I’d want to pay for such a naff song).
In fact, the site even offers a number of tracks for free, with new tracks available absolutely gratis every single week.
Amazon also offers some cracking deals on albums, with 50 albums at £5, with the list regularly updated with new options.
However, on the negative side you won’t be able to stream content – as with iTunes, if you want to listen to a track, you’ll have to pay for it individually first.
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The new kid on the block, and a tool I really like, Mflow combines the world of downloading music with social media and even the opportunity to make money!
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However, should you particularly like a track you can choose to ‘flow’ it. That means that any fellow users who are following your profile – your friends perhaps, or even just people with a similar taste in music to you – will receive a message from you telling them about the track. Should they then purchase it, you get 20% of the fee they pay! You don’t even need to have purchased the track in order to flow it.
I really like the community idea that Mflow uses, and the fact that you have the chance to make some money out of it is just an added bonus. What’s more, the music catalogue, while far from comprehensive, is very reasonably priced, with most tracks retailing at 79p.
Currently the site is still in pilot mode, though you can apply for a membership code and get on board now. I’m sure it will be a serious player very soon.
I signed up to Spotify early on and am a massive fan, but the proposition has changed somewhat since then. It used to be the case that you could download the software and stream whatever music you want, absolutely free, though you would have to put up with the occasional advert in between songs.
Alternatively you could sign up to a membership deal and avoid those adverts for £9.99 a month.
Unsurprisingly, as a business model it didn’t quite work, and you can now only get a free Spotify membership if you are invited by someone with a premium membership.
However, I’m still a big fan of Spotify, and use it on a daily basis. The fact that it is now compatible with various mobile devices makes it a fantastic option and one well worth considering, even if you will have to shell out a tenner a month for it. You can also buy the tracks and albums on Spotify too (via 7digital) which is a sensible expansion and means it pretty much ticks all of the boxes.
However, if you are after a one stop shop – a site where you can both download tracks for your mp3 player, but also stream them – then a better bet in my view is Sky Songs.
Again, there is a monthly subscription fee involved – this time £4.99 – but for that you can stream more than five million tracks, as well as download five tracks absolutely free each month. You can then pay to download additional songs or albums.
Wherever you choose to get your music, it’s important that you stick to legal, legitimate sites. To be sure that the site you are considering using is above board, keep an eye out for the Music Matters trust mark.
Time for some TV!
While all of those options cover music downloads and streaming, bar iTunes they do not cover video. So if you want to catch up with the latest films and videos, where should you head?
In terms of keeping things legal, it can be a bit tricky – there are plenty of sites which will stream shows though it’s questionable just how legitimate they are.
Personally I stick to the official sites run by the TV networks themselves. Obviously there’s the fantastic iPlayer (which can even be viewed on the go on certain mobile phones, which just makes it even better) but I’m also a big fan of Skyplayer, which is available absolutely free to all Sky subscribers.
Another site to make the most of is 4OD, the service from Channel 4 which offers entire series of TV shows the channel broadcasts, absolutely free! So if you are a massive Shameless fan, park yourself in front of your computer and you can watch all seven series on the site!