Buying Music

Buying Music Online

Our Secret Shopper takes a look at the buying Cd singles and albums online. The price of a CD doesn't seem to vary that much, but the ease of use of the different websites is certainly variable!

Amazon Music Store

Does anyone really need a review of Amazon, it is so well known and popular that I'm sure everyone has used it at least once?

Don't forget to go to the Amazon site for your country!

I was quite surprised at the price until I realized I was looking at American dollars! Once in the U.K. site, the 'Super Saver Delivery' (delivery free with purchases over the value of £15) and the 'used and new' alternatives I found slightly irritating - not because of the offers but more because of the layout, I found it more intrusive than helpful. Also, why not just show the standard delivery price for that product somewhere close to that product instead of making me go search for it? Grr. That said Amazon did have the 'obscure' album and a whole lot of back catalogue for the artist.

iTUNES

Had to download iTunes and restart my PC before I could look at the store as iTunes opens automatically when you look at the site. Although that is a little irritating it is quite a nice free application to have, so no complaints from me. Also you need to open an account to be able to make purchases so the first time you use it is a bit of a drag but once set up it is just sooo easy! I was a little confused too because you type in your search on the website and it opens the results in the application - but this is easy to get used to and the options to buy individual songs off an album, buy video's and see reviews and other music by the same artist is just bloody brilliant! I could spend hours here! The search facility is very, shall we say, open minded - you can put in song titles, album titles, artists, and it will give you something to look at. I haven't tried it but I would guess that would be kinda handy for the old "heard a song in the pub last night but I don't know who it's by or what it's called but the chorus went like this…" scenario that record shop staff always look down at you for asking - would always be worth trying a couple of lyrics from the chorus and seeing what iTunes gives you… Easily the best music site I have been to.

Tesco Music Store

It is quite obvious this is a supermarket and a supermarket's website but it is easy enough to use. Search possible by artist or title. Other work by the same artist displayed along with the option to 'see more music by…' which is already displayed! Price includes delivery so no mucking around there. They seem to have a pretty good selection having the 'obscure' album and his back catalogue though 'dispatch by' dates do vary. You will need to register (or sign in if you already have an account) before purchasing. Easy site to use and you can buy your groceries at the same time, well from the same site anyway.

CDwow (also known as CD jungle)

Even with my pop-up blocker, a pop-up loaded quicker than the home page which took forever! Pop-up was for 'the warehouse' who CDwow offer a link to when an item is not available through them. Search also brings up results for DVDs, Games and WOW offers. Registration not necessary and heaps of payment options including cheque available. BUT I couldn't find a dispatch date anywhere for this order and that is not really good enough - had to look in FAQs to get any kind of answer and that was not specific to my order. Unbelievably they did not have Pet Sounds. Otherwise, the site was easy enough to use but I wasn't impressed overall - the load time of the homepage and the pop-up put me off right from the start and they didn't have half of the items in this article. Pay a little more and go Amazon or even HMV.

Napster

Seemed to take an age to open the homepage. The search facility is offered from the homepage, along with a couple of offers to download Napster for a free 7-day trial, but once the search is complete all you get is 'Yes, we do have this artist. Download Napster to get this artists songs' - not much help if you are just shopping around. I guess this is more about people using just Napster exclusively for all their music downloads. I'm skeptical, I have to say. Fortunately the download is pretty quick and easy, unfortunately as soon as I downloaded and installed I got an error message saying "We're sorry, Napster is not currently available in your country (I live in Australia)." WELL why on EARTH didn't you tell me that first!!! I gave up and have not reviewed Napster in any other way.

Virgin Megastore

Virgin also provide a Virgin Digital service. Ok this site has irritated me more than anything else for about 7 years!! (I may be exaggerating!) I could not find a delivery charge easily so I decided to go to the check out to find out what the total price was there. I was asked to register - fair enough. I began registering and after entering name, address etc got an error message asking me to read and agree to the privacy policy. I must have missed something, I thought, as I scoured the registration pages looking for a tick box or link for the privacy policy. No, I did NOT miss anything, there was no tick box, there was no link, there was nothing relating to the privacy policy anywhere except at the very bottom of the page alongside the copyright, site map etc. After reading the privacy policy, not only did I find absolutely no way whatsoever to agree to it but I lost all my registration details. Twice. The second time, I thought I had better double check I hadn't missed anything before I vented my anger on these pages.

But no, I did not miss anything except the 20 minutes of my life wasted pursuing some unaccomplishable agreement to a privacy policy. I failed to register.

I'm sure there is a box somewhere, but it should be made obvious.

On top of that, their search facility is rubbish! Searched for Pet Sounds and had to scroll through ten alternatives and move onto the second page of results before finding it - I mean how can 3 albums by The Pet Shop Boys come before Pet Sounds on a search for Pet Sounds??!! Even CDwow did better.

HMV music

Make sure you go to .co.uk and not .com. Offer "free delivery on everything across the U.K" which is nice. Site is easy to use; search facility brings up results across all products and is easily usable for both artist and title searches. Need to register but unlike HMVs competition (i.e Virgin) the registration is dead easy and very quick. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this site (well, the free delivery is great but the prices are a little higher overall than Amazon so…) but it is decent, functional and easy to use. Virgin should take a lesson from here or lose all their online business to HMV.

THE HUT.COM

Perfectly decent site. Easy enough to use, the search is easy, delivery is included in prices, basically there is no mucking about - they had everything I searched for except the single. Apparently they have additional discounts as when I went to the checkout I was asked if I had a discount code. Need to register but registration is easy. Decent amount of payment options - including debit cards. Overall a good web site. Buy CDs from The Hut

Buying Music Online

The really thing that really stands out looking at the prices above is how few of these sites can provide the single. The prices do vary quite a bit (without any explanation) but I guess some of these prices will vary with sales etc - especially Tesco and HMV who seem to offer discounts at pretty regular intervals. To buy CDs I would suggest that Amazon, Tesco, HMV and The Hut are all pretty similar in ease of use, dispatch dates all seem to depend on stock and I reckon you would want to shop around on price anyway. CDwow and Virgin Megastore just were not good enough, in my opinion, especially when there are others doing a much better job. I guess I am kinda old fashioned in a way, and I like to actually own CDs - having them on the hard drive just doesn't seem enough to me - which is a shame because I loved iTunes! iTunes is my favourite new toy on my PC and I loved all the features in the store - being able to buy any song off any album, being able to search so easily, the easy registration and payment. Personally I thought iTunes was easily the best of them all.

Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy". No 1 single in U.K. Radio One Top 40 Chart at time of writing.

Music Store CD Price Music Store Notes
Amazon 1.99

£1.73 used. Available for dispatch tomorrow, £1.45 for U.K. delivery, or free delivery for purchases valued over £15

Itunes £0.79 MP3

Easy! Love that the option to buy the album or other songs is so easy.

Tesco Not available Album only.
CDwow Not available Album only. Link offered for The Warehouse.
Virgin Not available Album only.
HMV £1.99 CD Price includes delivery. Normally ships in 24hrs
The Hut.com Not available Album only.

Jack Johnson, "In Between Dreams". No 12 album in U.K. Radio One Top 40 Chart at time of writing.

Music Store CD Price Music Store Notes
Amazon £8.99 CD

Used from £5.99. Available for dispatch tomorrow, £1.45 for U.K. delivery, or free delivery for purchases valued over £15.

Itunes £7.90 MP3

All songs from this album and others listed for individual purchase.

Tesco £8.95 CD Price includes delivery, dispatch usually within 3-5 days. Price based on purchase from Tesco Jersey (no VAT). Back catalogue available
CDwow £8.75 CD Delivery free but dispatch date impossible to find! Back catalogue including DVDs offered
Virgin £9.99

Usually dispatched within 24hours. 75p delivery Unless order value over £20 then free delivery. Back catalogue available.

HMV £9.99

Price includes delivery. Normally ships in 24hrs. Back catalogue available including DVDs bizarrely including 2 categorized as games?

The Hut.com £8.95 CD

Price includes delivery. Normally ships in 1-2 days.Back catalogue available

The Beach Boys, "Pet Sounds". A golden oldie and classic album.

Music Store CD Price Music Store Notes
Amazon £6.97 CD

(Stereo version) Used from £3.99. Usually dispatched within 6-12 days. Mono version £5.97, next day dispatch

Itunes £7.99 MP3

Not as many reviews etc, but a huge catalogue! Including other versions of same album.

Tesco £6.97 CD Price includes delivery, dispatch usually within 3-5 days. Price based on purchase from Tesco Jersey (no VAT). Back catalogue available
CDwow Not available! only have 2 CDs by the Beach Boys and a DVD of Brian Wilson.
Virgin £14.99

Usually dispatched within 24hours. 75p delivery Unless order value over £20 then free delivery. Back catalogue available. Had to scroll through others to find this album

HMV £9.99

Mono version just £4.49! Price includes delivery. Normally ships in 24hrs. Hufe back catalogue available.

The Hut.com £10.89 CD

Mono version £5.49. Price includes delivery. Normally ships in 4 days.Some back catalogue available

Richmond Fontaine, "The Fitzgerald". For something a little more obscure.

Music Store CD Price Music Store Notes
Amazon £9.99 CD

(Stereo version) Used from £3.99. Usually dispatched within 6-12 days. Mono version £5.97, next day dispatch

Itunes Not Available

Another album, Winnemucca offered as alternative.

Tesco £9.69 CD No cheap option from Jersey available. Dispatch within 1 working day. Back catalogue . Delivery included in price.
CDwow Not available! Nothing by the artist in any format.
Virgin £10.99

Usually dispatched within 24hours. 75p delivery Unless order value over £20 then free delivery. Back catalogue available.

HMV £11.99

Normally ships in 24hrs. Hufe back catalogue available.

The Hut.com £10.89 CD

Price includes delivery. Normally ships in 4 days.Some back catalogue available



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