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How to Choose the Right UK Music Download Website

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Music has worn so many outfits in the recent past. Remember cassette tapes? How your friend would sit in front of the stereo to record their favourite tunes from the radio? How the magnetic tape would jam and get ripped out and she’d have to feed it back in with a pencil? We’re showing our age now! How about mini-discs, then? They were meant to revolutionise music as a smaller alternative to the CD. They died out pretty quickly. But music is not only surviving, it’s thriving in its downloadable form. No need to change disc, no need to carry around large CD wallets full of albums. Your whole collection can fit in the palm of your hand and it never sounded better.


Why use a UK music download website?

The main positive of downloading music is that it’s so easy: easy to buy, easy to store, easy to organise. At the click of a button you can download dozens, even hundreds of songs. The price is right too; without the need to burn CDs, print album sleeves, box them in a factory, drive them out to stores and promote them on the shelves, downloadable albums are able to significantly reduce the cost of purchasing music.

Moving house with a terrifyingly large mass of records stacked in boxes was always a nightmare but now you can take everything with you in your pocket. There’s no need to keep alphabetising your music either as your computer or MP3 player can do that for you! And more: it can help you develop track lists that will play without you needing to interfere by changing discs, perfect for relaxing at home, getting ready for a night out or just going for a walk. Everything is changeable with a few simple clicks of your computer mouse. Downloadable music means that you always have music to suit your mood, when and wherever you are in life.

But there are so many music download sites out there, how are you to know which one will suit you? Well never fear, like a knight in shiny shiny shiny armour, no1review is here to help. It’s not so much a case of “which one is best?”, but more a case of “which one is best for you?”  There are a myriad of different music download sites out there offering a variety of packages and features that are tailored to offer something a little different to its users.

Read our reviews carefully before deciding to part with your hard-earned money and you’ll make a much more informed decision. You’ll be surprised just how different these sites are when you get down to the details. Of course we’ve detailed reviews for each of our top music download sites, but here are some general tips to follow when checking out the websites for yourself...



Since most of us aren’t multimillionaires, cost is often a key concern when making any purchase. The important thing to consider about costs on a music download site is how much you are willing and able to spend. Some sites offer a variety of packages, others only have one option. Cost is sometimes – although not always – determined by the number of tracks available, the quality of those tracks, the extra features a site offers and (in all honesty) how popular a site is and how much money they put into marketing. The main options out there are:

  • Pay per track: there is a set cost for a track or album, you pay for exactly the things you buy;

  • Credit: you purchase a certain amount of credit/points which you can then use as cash on the website. You might buy 500 credits for £5 and a song costs 100 credits, for example. Make sure there are enough things you want before adding too much credit as it's likely you won't get any change back from unspent credits;

  • Membership packages: You pay a set fee (generally per month) and can download a set number of tracks;

  • Unlimited membership packages: download as much music as you like for a set price (often a monthly bill but sometimes these are 6 month or 1 year contracts).

Think carefully about what you want. Are you someone who wants hundreds of tracks a month or just the occasional favourite song? There’s little point in spending £10 a month if you’re only interested in £5’s worth of music.


The number of tracks available and their quality:

Most of the sites you’ll look at have a lot of music available on them, usually going into millions of songs and tunes. If you’ve a particular taste then try a search for something quite obscure to see if it’s a site that meets your musical preference. Generally the sites should be able to cater for your whims and fancies. The quality of the tracks available might also be important to you. The bitrate (usually measured in kilobits per second and written as either Kbps or kbps) measures how much digital information gets transmitted every second and encoded (e.g. MP3 format, AAC format, etc).

A higher bitrate results in less information being lost during the encoding process but also means a larger file size for storing. In short, this determines how much data is stored in your track and therefore the quality of the sound delivered. A 192 kbps song will be approximately radio quality. A 256 kbps song is a higher quality. Some sites offer 320kbps, which is top quality (though many people claim you can’t really hear the difference between 256 kbps and 320 kbps). Some people argue that AAC (used by iTunes) offers better sound quality than MP3.



The quality of the search function really is important if you’re looking to extend your music collection. Some sites will offer recommendations by genre or what you’ve listened to already, which is a neat way to try new tracks. Others will let you filter your search by genre, year, country of origin etc. Check what the search facility is like to use, you may find that it opens up new uncharted areas of music to you.


Playing your downloads on mobile/other devices:

Some sites protect their music using Digital Rights Management (DRM). This means that you are not necessarily able to transfer the music to your MP3 players or burn them to a CD. Check this carefully before you make a purchase, especially if you want to play your music on devices other than on the device you downloaded them on to.



If you’re interested in more than just the music then check what other features a site offers. Some provide interviews with artists, festival information, song reviews, free software and merchandise. They even create a sense of community and offer educative articles which are part of your membership. These extras can really enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the world of music.


The Bottom Line

We’ve done the research for you so read the reviews, check out the sites and good luck in choosing the music download site that is best for you!