Paying for an MP3 seems to be an alien idea for most Indians – what with the rampant piracy of titles all over India. Sites like raaga.com, meanwhile, charge Rs.12 per song for a download, and worse, it is DRM-protected, meaning, you have to authenticate each song on each device. If your device does not support WMA DRM, forget it.
A new site which is building up reputation is manoramic.com (no relation to Malayala Manorama), which have signed deals with all major music companies in India and their associations to sell MP3 legally. While each individual song still costs Rs.12, you can buy a package of 40 songs for Rs.240, making it Rs.6 per song. Packages are also available in 20-songs@Rs.160 and 10-songs@Rs.100. Packages don’t expire, unlike many other sites. The songs are DRM-free MP3, so you can copy to any of your devices which support standard MP3s.
Manoramic.com also has a streaming player in their website, which is one of the simplest and easiest streaming players among similar Indian websites. The ability to play from playlists, which can be saved in one’s user account, is also useful. (Hopefully, you are using an unlimited broadband connection, otherwise, buying legal CDs might turn out to be cheaper!)
The number of songs available in truly mind-boggling – over 15000 in Malayalam, 27000 in Tamil, 36000 in Hindi, and likewise in all major Indian languages. Since HMV/Saregama titles are included, you get access to almost all the old hits.
And the minus points? For one, songs come in 128 kbps quality, which, while acceptable in most cases, might not find favor with true music aficionados. Also, the MP3 ID3 tags are not available – which means the user has to tag each song using an external application, like mp3tag. Interestingly, Nokia India’s OVI music service brings out DRM-free high-quality 256 kbps songs, with ID3 tags and all. Unfortunately, you cannot buy it; you get only a limited number of songs for download with specific Nokia mobile phones.
Since buying legal MP3s enables royalty payments to the creators of music, it will be a true token of appreciation for the artists involved if we pay for the MP3s. And manoramic.com is certainly an easy yet effective platform for buying legal MP3s.