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I love music. Even when I don’t have headphones on there’s always a song stuck in my head.

I also love cheap music. Or more accurately I love music bargains. So here are my top tips to legally save on downloading, streaming and buying music.

1. Stream It First

Streaming has transformed how we listen to music. Though some argue that musicians don’t get as much money as they should. Others say it gives them a far larger audience. Either way it’s here to stay. If you’re new to it, it’s basically listening to albums and songs on a live internet connection rather than downloading. Rather than shell out for a new album then hardly listen to it, it’s cheaper to stream it first then only buy or download it when you know it’s a keeper.

The following services all work more or less the same and have a monthly contract so you’re not tied in for long periods.

Spotify is the leader and the best value as you can listen to millions of songs (and plenty of new releases) for free with adverts. If they annoy you too much you can pay £9.99 a month to get no ads and the ability to take songs “offline” – handy for when you go somewhere with no internet access. Students can get it half price and some Vodaphone users can get it for 6 months.

Google Play is newer and does the same thing. The first month is free, then £9.99 a month afterwards.

Deezer costs £9.99 for web and phone, or just £4.99 for web only. Though there’s currently an offer to get the + pack for £4.99 for six months. EE, Orange and T-Mobile users might be able to get it free.

Rdio costs £9.99 a month but has a six month free trial for computer (rather than smart phone) users, so it could be worth giving it a go before paying premium rates elsewhere.

If you’d rather listen to music on the radio, the BBC Radio Player website & app lets you listen back to any show from the last week (like iPlayer), while the TuneIn Radio app lets you listen live to 1000s of radio stations from all over the world.

You can also use radio functions in Spotify, Google Play, Blinkbox Music & Last FM and more to create stations and playlists based on artists or genres you already like. This Blinkbox ‘station’ that just plays cover versions of Britpop hits is fun (as I write it’s William Shatner doing Pulp!).

2. Save With Offers

Since we love music, we often put any great deals in our REAL DEAL section. In the past few months we’ve seen MP3s of new albums by Lorde, Bombay Bicycle Club and Haim for 99p on Google Play, £5 free credit for Sainsbury’s Entertainment and half price iTunes vouchers. The biggest new release MP3 are often reduced in their first few weeks on Google Play.

Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr to get the latest offers as soon as we find them.

3. Compare Prices

I always use 123Pricecheck to get a quick look at different prices for CDs. However, it doesn’t cover everywhere so it’s worth manually searching any site you see that’s missing. It’s CD only. There are MP3 comparison sites, but they don’t work very well and I always find it cheaper elsewhere.

If you can’t be bothered, we hunt down the cheapest prices on MP3 and CD for the hottest releases each Monday in our Cheap Night In section.

4. Wait

The cheapest way to get a new album is to wait. Give it a few months and it’ll probably be in an offer somewhere. Give it a year and it’s probably down to a fiver.

5. See It With A Gig

Rough Trade in London offer regular free shows when you buy the album. So it might cost you a few quid more than the cheapest online shop, but you’ll also get a bonus live show!

6. Go Second Hand

More and more now pound shops are selling second hand CDs. Don’t forget boot fairs and charity shops. As people go digital, you’ll find some pretty good choices.

7. Get Free Tracks

Every week iTunes and Google Play have a free track, generally a new release. BBC 6 Music also has a free download most days from the Lauren Lavern show. It’s worth keeping an eye on music sites and Soundcloud as you can often get free tracks and remixes, though this is less common than it used to be.


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