When the Supreme Court ruled against internet sites that enable peer-to-peer file-sharing last month, it did music downloaders a favor. As anyone who’s ever visited P2P sites like Grokster and Morpheus can attest, sound quality is maddeningly dodgy and the catalogue is hopelessly disorganized. The imminent shutdown of these sites should provide the kick in the pants you need to find a better alternative. Russia is where it’s at. Benefiting from lax copyright laws, Russian mp.3 sites offer a wide array of music to download at a nominal fee. The music isn’t free, but it’s close. And because the sites are run as businesses rather than loose collectives, they’re much more user-friendly.
With so many Russian sites to choose from, we decided to share a few of our favorites. Of course, the biggest concern in using foreign mp.3 sites is giving your credit-card number — you don’t want some dude named Boris buying new rims for his Lada 110 on your dime. But with all the sites below, you can use PayPal for secure internet payments or call a toll-free number and have the charges added to your telephone bill. So get your wish list together and join us online.
Site: Allofmp3.com (5 to 10 cents per song) Selection: A solid blend of the latest hot releases (R. Kelly, Missy Elliott) with a back catalogue deeper than Lake Erie. One of the rare sites to have the complete works of artists like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and hundreds of others. There are also plenty of rare finds, like Rage Against the Machine’s Bombtrack EP. It’s among the most comprehensive collections of music on the web.
Why you should try it: By allowing you to listen to everything for free before you buy, this is an ideal site to help you build up a library of music. It’s easy to navigate, and you can download complete albums instead of assembling discs song-by-song.
Site: club.mp3search.ru (10 cents per song) Selection: Heavy on the rarities and out-of-print discs, from Mountain to Sugar Ray. Doesn’t have as many contemporary hits as some other sites, but where else are you going to find that elusive Milli Vanilli remix LP? Also has a vast selection of audio books and ringtones.