It costs only five cents to download The Beatles' Back In The USSR from a Russian website. It also costs five cents to download the Beastie Boys' Ch-Check It Out, from their new album, To The 5 Boroughs. To download the entire Beastie Boys album will cost you 67 cents - and we're talking in $ingapore cents! Compare this to US 99 cents per song from Apple's iTunes, or S$1.99 from Soundbuzz, or US$1.49 from PlanetMG, or S$1.99 from Starhub/EMI's playmusic. Stephen Tan visits allofmp3.com, the Russian music download site that will save you a lot of money.

Allofmp3 update their music catalogue daily. Here are some examples:

July 14, 2004
A Reminiscent Drive; Anne Murray; Anne Sofie von Otter & Elvis Costello; Carpenters; Dr. Nigel Kennedy; Everything But The Girl; Fish; French Affair; Front Line Assembly; Fun Boy Three; Haindling; Imperanon; Little River Band; Love Spirals Downwards; Lyle Lovett; Mickey Newbury; Newsboys; Parliament; Pleasure Fuckers; Richard Marx; Tangerine Dream; Tim Finn; Toots & the Maytals

July 13, 2004
Acker Bilk; Angel Dust; At First Sight; Bad Company; Baraka; Burt Bacharach; First Knight; Keimzeit; Leaether Strip; London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Choral Society; Man with No Name; Manhattan Transfer; Marty Lloyd; Moonstruck; Ned`s Atomic Dustbin; Os Mutantes; Pestilence; Pete Droge; Pete Yorn; Rocky; Serge Gainsbourg; Sling Blade; Stan Getz; Take 6; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; The Outpatience; The Runaway Bride; The Thorns; Urban Cowboy; Violet Indiana; Water Rats; Zakk Wylde; Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers

July 12, 2004
Akercocke; Amii Stewart; Anita Baker; Arena; Bach, Johann Sebastian; Better Than Ezra; Cafe del Mar (CD Series); Dmitri Shostakovich; Gustav Mahler; Johann Strauss; Joseph Haydn; LTJ Bukem; Maren Ord; Mendellsohn; Noir Desir; Patti Smith; Patty Smyth; Ride

July 11, 2004

Cafe del Mar (CD Series); Cage; Chandeen; ClubZone; Colosseum II; Corey Harris; Daryl Hall; Devil Doll; Dusty Springfield; Dwight Yoakam; Emmylou Harris; Finntroll; Fiona Apple; Firehouse; Free; Harvey Danger; Hayseed Dixie; Jai Utta; Johannes Brahms; John Scofield; Richard Wagner; Skyfire; The Jive Aces; The Rolling Stones; Tiamat

 

The site is www.allofmp3.com. Started in 2001, it was, for a while, the best-kept secret on the internet. But a glowing review in April in the Sydney Morning Herald alerted many music fans to the site.

 
"We think
that in the
foreseeable
future, the
prices of
online
music stores
will drop
because of
the constant
pressure from
the direction
of
peer-to-peer
networks and
their growing
popularity
and
availability."

- CIO Vadim Mamotin
of MediaServices,
the company
behind Allofmp3

Allofmp3 originates from Russia and, as many online reviews indicate, users were at first sceptical. But cheap legal downloads, a fairly extensive range of tracks, and the fact that you can choose the sort of encoding you want (MP3, MPEG4-AAC, OGG, MPC, WMA) and at various sample rates won fans over. To date, no one has complained of being cheated by this site.

And if you've been paying for your music downloads, you'd be glad to know that the music downloaded from allofmp3 has no DRM copy protection - that means you can copy and re-copy them. And the downloads are iTunes and iPod compatible.

For convenience, www.museekster.com has come up with a list of pros and cons regarding the site:

A key plus point is the low pricing. To make use of the facilities, you have to sign up as a member. Membership is free but surfing the site, one realises that the "ordinary" membership doesn't entitle you to purchase all the tracks you want. But it does entitle you to download free tracks. Many of the "hot" tracks are for VIP members; in other words, paid members. And this is where Allofmp3 differs from other download sites.

You pay per megabyte - 1 US cent per Mb (or $ingapore 1.7 cents). By becoming a VIP member, you create an account. The minimum payment is US$5 for 500Mb and you can pay as much as US$50 for 5 gigabytes. Payment can be made through Visa, Mastercard and Pay Pal. [Unfortunately, the day we signed up, the Pay Pal service was down.]

 
"Peer-to-peer
networks
are the
natural
reaction
to the
high cost
of MP3 files
at music
stores of
official
distributors.
We think
the RIAA
and other
remedial
organisations
are acting
badly in
trying to
sue
music users."

- CIO Vadim Mamotin
of MediaServices,
the company
behind Allofmp3

Even with US$5 (500Mb), you have more than enough to download the Beastie Boys' To The 5 Boroughs (39.45Mb), Janet Jackson's Damita Jo (60.94Mb), Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin (38.30Mb) and Prince's Musicology (44.75Mb) - which all add up to US$1.83 (or S$3.11).

Encoding on demand in almost every common format and bit rate is one of the key features of Allofmp3. Especially for the newer and latest releases, the songs can be encoded in any of the following formats: MP3, MPEG4-AAC, OGG, MPC, WMA or lossless formats such as Monkey's Audio, Flac and OptimFrog. Allofmp3 allows the user to specify the sample rate at which the songs are encoded, for example MP3s at 128 kbs or 320 kbs.

Unlike the MP3 format where data has been omitted, Flac is a form of compression that allows the original data to be reconstructed exactly from the compressed data. And because there is no loss of data, the Flac file
(CD quality) is much larger than the MP3 file. For example, the MP3 (128 kbs) of the Beastie Boys’ Ch-Check It Out is only 2.9Mb. The Flac file is 21.6Mb. [The audio .aif file is 32Mb.] Hence, the higher the sample rate, the better the quality, the larger the file, the longer the download and the more you pay.

It has to be mentioned that all music is ripped from CD and stored as 384Kbs variable-bit-rate MP3, and when you order tracks they are transcoded on the fly to the format and bit rate you have chosen. But at a higher premium of double the cost, you can have songs ripped directly from the source CD.

 
"Lawsuits
against
users is
only
a temporary,
insufficently
considered
solution
that will
be found
ineffective
in the
future.
We think
the only way
to force
users to
pay for the
music is
to provide
users with
rich services
for less cost."

- CIO Vadim Mamotin
of MediaServices,
the company
behind Allofmp3

Another plus is reasonable download speeds (100 megabit/sec, depending on your bandwidth of course). On a 1,500 kps broadband, it took less than 1 minute to download an MP3 of the Beastie Boys Ch-Check It Out (128 kbs; 2.9Mb) or even a slightly better version of the song (320 kbs; 7.3Mb); and took about 15-20 minutes to download a lossless Flac version of the song (21.6Mb).

One of the complaints about Allofmp3 is its limited catalogue. At press time, the site had 17,862 albums featuring 5,204 artists and a total of 216,936 songs. Compare that to iTunes' catalogue of more than 700,000 songs. But still, there is enough variety to satisfy both the Top 40 fan and those into classic pop/rock.

For instance, the current Top 40 Billboard albums available for download include The Beastie Boys' To The 5 Boroughs, Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin, Velvet Revolver's Contraband, Prince's Musicology, The Cure's The Cure and Wilco's A Ghost Is Born.

For those into classic pop/rock, you can download the entire catalogue of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd. Unlike many other download sites, Allofmp3 also offers grey music though the number is limited. For example, they have the Beach Boys Smile album and the lost Bee Gees album, A Kick In The Head.

[The Beatles and Metallica have not authorised their music to be sold online for anyone. Yet Allofmp3 offers about any Beatles and Metallica album ever released. According to museekster.com, there are two reasons. One, foreign works released before 1973 are not protected in Russia. Russia signed the Berne Convention without the retrospective protection. The second reason is that under Russian law a collecting society like ROMS (the Russian version of the RIAA) automatically has the right to license ANY intellectual property to Russian distributors, even if the author is not subject to Russian law.] 

 
"We know
that many
people are
leery of
buying
anything on
Russian
sites...
It would be
ineffective
to try
convincing
these kinds
of users
of our
honesty.
The only
way
we see it is
to advance
our good
reputation,
provide
users
with as
good support
as we can..."

- CIO Vadim Mamotin
of MediaServices,
the company
behind Allofmp3

But as a VIP member, you can listen to an entire album before deciding to download it. And there are free albums to download (these are at 128bps) but should suffice for casual listening.

A minor drawback is that not all the music is available in the lossless format - a key criteria for those who do not mind the longer wait or the higher cost of getting CD-quality music.

But a more serious complaint is the website is sometimes unavailable due to limited server capacity. Log in during the "peak" period and you'll be told to return later.

In his Sydney Morning Herald article, Charles Wright contacted Melbourne lawyer Simon Minahan who said: "There's probably nothing to stop the individual from downloading this material for private use. For end users, the issue is a basic question relevant to acquiring a reproduction of any copyright work: has the rights owner consented?"

Meanwhile, the site claims: "All the materials in the MediaServices projects are available for distribution via internet, according to Licence # LS-3M-02-36 of the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society." It also claims it pays licence fees for all material on the site, "subject to the law of the Russian Federation on copyright and related rights."

As more people have access to broadband, it is inevitable that many will turn to the internet to download their music. In this regard, Allofmp3 is showing that low pricing and an efficient delivery system will be the way to go. As CIO Vadim Mamotin of MediaServices, the company behind Allofmp3, said: "We think that in the foreseeable future, the prices of online music stores will drop because of the constant pressure from the direction of peer-to-peer networks and their growing popularity and availability."

Also read:

Russian site is music to the ears

http://smh.com.au/articles/2004/04/26/
1082831475556.html?oneclick=true


MediaServices CIO Vadim Mamotin on Russia's AllofMP3.com
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/34512.html



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