Ask LH: What Alternatives Are There To iTunes For Buying Music?

I'm looking for an online music store that is not iTunes. The Ubuntu One store only offers indie stuff to Australia but my taste is quite eclectic and my dietary requirements mean that I need more than it could offer. What are some alternatives that are in/for Australia? Everything that I find is region locked to the US. Any news from our friends/saviours at Google about when they are opening their store? I'm not a Big Pond customer either. Cheers, Need New Notes

Dear Need New Notes,

As we established earlier this week, iTunes does a pretty good but not comprehensive job of covering the mainstream music market. Its dominance in the music space also means that it's the venue of choice for many independent artists. That said, there are plenty of reasons not to want to use iTunes, its unstable software and terrible update system amongst them.

As you've already discovered with Ubuntu One, many of the alternative online music stores have various regional restrictions. The Internet might be global, but many music contracts remain depressingly local in their scope, and the range of alternatives isn't particularly wide. There's been no word locally on moves by Google into the music space, and it's worth remembering that not every market Google enters actually ends up being successful for it.

So what are the options? You don't have to be a Telstra customer to take advantage of Big Pond Music, and its entry price of $1.60 for a single MP3 is a better offer than iTunes (though both do have higher prices on some tracks). There are also occasional specials on gift cards for the site, which makes for an even better deal. The other major local online music store I'm aware of are Bandit FM (a Sony-owned site, but with material from other labels as well) and the Optus Music Store (which, like Telstra, doesn't require you to be a phone service customer to purchase music).

Beyond that, I'm sure readers will be happy to share other music-buying sites that are good for Australians in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker


    I know it's a UK site, but tunechecker points you to the cheapest online sites for any album/tracks you are on the hunt for... It's worked for me!

    Could try the Ovi music store. LOTS of music for suprisingly little cash.
    Don't know if you can use it without a Nokia phone though. But it's worth a try.

      Yes, I think you can use it without a phone. Looks like you can buy music straight from their website,, you just need an account.
      And going by the prices on the most downloaded lists, single tracks are $1.49 while albums range from $9.99 to $20.99
      They actually have a lot of music too.

        Forgot to mention: It's also DRM-free

    Bandit FM is good. Also Coke have vouchers to Bandit FM on their promotion site.

    FWIW I buy most of my music, albeit in British Pounds, from and the affiliated If your "eclectic" tastes extend towards the European/electronic/arthouse direction they're well worth checking out.

    I've been hooked on . All the music is released under the free disto license but it can be hit and miss when it comes to quality. I have however found some true gems amongst the rubble. Check out the charts to find what's hot.

    A lot of artists have Bandcamp pages now. You can download in a variety of formats (different mp3 bitrates, flac, wav etc), the artist chooses the selling price and it (the money) goes straight into their pocket.

    Bandcamp is really very good. I've bought quite a bit of stuff from there. You'll often find free and 'name your price' albums there. Plus almost always full album/track previews and format options (frequently FLAC which is nice). has a pretty good selection. They're UK based but don't seem to care where you're located.

    Also putting my vote in for Very high quality tracks (320Kbps) are higher than iTunes plus (256Kbps). Eclectic audiophiles like me can tell the difference.

    I have used (BPM) and i can say that it is really good - the tracks are usually AT LEAST 25% cheaper then my stupid iTunes, and i get to take the music wherever i want (and on whatever device i want too :D)

    I've never used iTunes.

    Its all about http://www.beatport.c

    I use the French which has no geographic limitations and gives me access to a lot of music not available on iTunes. You have a choice between 320 MP3, lossless and occasional studio masters for recordings.

    You can always redownload your music free, and there's an iPhone app to sync your collection to wirelessly if you desire.

    They often run special deals on labels, new artists and albums.

    go to! the music is free and legal. and the selection expands all the time! certainly a very interesting service

    Go to the artists website and buy from there. Better chance the artist will get a good cut.

    Have a look at Magnatune. I've been through it for over a decade. Try before you buy the track or album in whole, hi fi codecs if you want. From world to heavy to classical to electronic etc, some amazing stuff there. and are longtime favourites for indie cuts is an amazing place, legal and free
    Not all music can be bought but it is good if the song you want is on there

    Iv been using Optus music store for over a year now and i think its brilliant! I am an Optus costumer so the bill is taken directly from my pre-paid credit. But all the songs are consistent prices of $1.69 and $16.50 for albums. The range can be a bit limited sometimes and it takes a little while for it to have the latest and newest stuff (it is updated with new music every month)but on the whole its great.

    Check out bandcamp , if you are tired of the usual crap , and you wnat something more personal.

    try Lot's of information about music and a pretty decent download shop

    I am not worthy to scrawl on your page. I have been in thrall to the evil iTunes shop and attendant malware for too long. You have shown me the way. I am not worthy etc...

    Thank you. Rudy Vallee! Hutch! the Comedy Harmonists! All the greats! Right here in Oz. Nurse! My smelling salts!

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