The proliferation of MP3 players and MP3 music files has created a high demand for access to legal download sites, and has created a digital marketplace where musicians and bands can distribute their music. Several iterations of digital marketplaces now provide access to MP3 recordings on computers, portable multimedia devices and smartphones.
The iTunes Store is operated by Apple and is accessible directly through the iTunes desktop multimedia management software, or through the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. Music can be purchased without a subscription fee, with all tracks using the same pricing model. This is a unique feature among music download services, and iTunes allows users to buy whole albums or individual tracks. Podcasts, audio books and videos can also be purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store.
Spotify is an online music streaming service available throughout Europe that allows subscribers to create their own playlists and listen to music for free. Advertising content is included in either visual or audio formats when listening to the music through the free service. A premium subscription allows users to access Spotify without advertisements, and with higher audio quality settings. The service is available on computers, and through a host of different smartphone platforms including iPhone and Android.
As part of its online retail outlet, Amazon provides an MP3 purchasing and download service. It was the first such service to provide music sales without digital rights management (DRM) protection, allowing purchased music to be stored on any MP3 player. Individual tracks can be purchased and downloaded immediately, though albums must be bought using the free "Amazon MP3 Downloader" software. Access to Amazon MP3 is built into the Android operating system for use on all Android smartphones.
Originally a peer-to-peer file sharing system, Napster became a legal pay service when the brand name and logo were purchased by Roxio. Music is acquired through a subscription service, which allows users to stream as much music as they like after paying a fixed monthly fee. Tracks can also be purchased without DRM protection, and a free ad-supported service is also available. Napster has a music catalogue of over 10 million songs, making it one of the largest MP3 download stores on the Internet.
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