I suppose this is somewhat of an endorsement, but there’s much more to why I shop at Amazon and Amoeba than the fact that they both offer great selections. And while most of my reasoning is different for each retailer, there is a common thread – I can find anything I want, whether it’s a top Billboard album or a rare, out-of-print album.
If you purchase music online, chances are you’re shopping iTunes or Amazon. I’ve never been a big fan of the iTunes store because I don’t like to be told how I can use my music. I continued to buy most of my music on CD until fairly recently, when unprotected MP3s were being offered at 256kbps from Amazon. Maybe you don’t care that you can only burn your iTunes downloads 5 times. Honestly, I rarely burn them, if ever. I do share a lot of music though. I’m not dumping the contents of my music library on other people’s machines or sharing music via BitTorrent, but I do like making mixes and sharing them. You can’t do that with an iTunes download, unless you opt for the unprotected MP3. That’s always been the deal breaker for me. As much as I like the overall experience of the iTunes store, I think Amazon’s user experience with their MP3 Music Store, is superior to Apple’s. When I shop at Amazon I feel like I’m among fellow music fanatics. The opinions are usually intelligent and substantive, recommendations are usually spot-on and the overall experience is just more pleasant. I’m about as big of an Apple fan boy as you can be, but I won’t be buying my music online from them.
Amoeba is one of the reasons that I love living in LA. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s one of my top 5 reasons. Amoeba is as much a record store as it is heaven on Earth. You can find pretty much anything you want, there’s people that know A LOT about music working at the store and they buy and sell used CDs. Find me a comparable brick and mortar retailer. You can’t. Amoeba is that good. I’m lucky enough to work a few blocks from the Hollywood location (currently the only LA location) and I visit fairly often. Some may find the experience of shopping at Amoeba daunting, and it certainly can be, but if you don’t have a lot of time to shop around, I highly recommend their end caps. The staff picks are so spot on, that a lot of times I’ll just pick something up because it’s recommended. I’ve only regretted doing that once. The used section is remarkable. If you’re willing to hunt, you can find some great albums at awesome prices.
I realize I’m an extreme case when it comes to shopping for music. For somoene that gets pretty much anything for free from the labels, I still spend at least $100/month on music. I want a great experience when I spend that money. For that reason Amazon and Amoeba are the two greatest places to buy music online.