Purchasing Music in MP3 Format
Note: that currently, you need to be running Ubuntu Linux to access the Ubuntu One store: if you are not, you can just purchase it from Amazon instead, which is normally cheaper anyway!
You are not limited just to ripping your own CDs into digital format: you can browse, sample and purchase from within Rhythmbox. The application currently has three music suppliers, although the most extensive, for mainstream music, is the UbuntuOne store (-assuming you registered for an account that is: if not see the section on UbuntuOne).
First, if you are using Rhythmbox, open it using:
Applications → Sound & Video → Rhythmbox Music Player
If you are using Banshee, open it using:
Once started, expand the “Stores” heading in the left hand pane. In RhythmBox this looks as follows:
In Banshee this looks as follows:
Here you will see the three music stores available: Jamendo and Magnatune allow you to listen to tracks, but only download them once you have paid for them. The content seems to be less well known bands – i.e. no-one that has been signed to a major record label. They are great for sampling to discover new bands and sounds but if you're after anything more mainstream, UbuntuOne is the one (sic) you want.
Click on the "Ubuntu One" entry in the left pane and you will see the right pane change to show the welcome page. The best way to find things is to use the search facility: you can search by artist, track name, album name or both (-in the example, I'm searching for an artist):
Click on the “Search” button : hopefully, this will bring you back some results:
Click on the match you want (-or refine your search): if you searched on artist, this will normally bring you back a synopsis and a list of albums for that artist:
Click on the album you are interested in and you will see the individual tracks on the album: if you click on the play button next to a track, it will play a sample of that track:
If you click the “download” button, then that track will be added to your shopping basket:
If you click “Checkout” now, you'll be asked for a payment method –where you can add a credit card. Once entered, click “Continue” to purchase the track(s).
You will then see a “Your downloads” screen: your track(s) will show as greyed out, until the download completes:
Once downloaded, you the track will be listed in black text: click on the name and you'll be taken back to your “Music” tab: from here you can play the track – just as if you'd ripped it from a CD (-only probably with better quality):
Oddly, purchased tracks are not kept under the /home/<user>/Music folder. If you right click on a track and choose “Properties”, then click on the “Details” tab, you'll see the actual location is in a hidden folder (-starts with a dot), under your home directory:
One of the nice things about purchasing music from Ubuntu One is that your tracks are also copied to your UbuntuOne account so, if disaster should strike, you can restore your music from the web:
This is not as trivial as it sounds: when you purchase an MP3, you have no physical box you can take back to prove you bought it - and hard disc failures do happen (-however low the manufacturer;s MTBF figures).
Another benefit of holding your music “in the cloud” (-i.e. somewhere out there, on the internet) is being able to access it when away from your computer. For example, this might be useful if you travel a lot or if you have a 3G cell phone capable of surfing the net: as long as you have an internet connection, you'll be able to access your music!