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Russia - Your Source for Cheap Music

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Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Napster is gone and iTunes rules.  However, between these two options lies a new land – “legally sellable music.”  Hard to say if it is legal to buy - but it is certainly cheap!

The music industry is doing pretty well getting people to pay for digital music with the iTunes Store booming around the world. However, there are online music services that are cheaper than iTunes. The cheapest of those are based in Russia because of a variety of legal tricks that allow them to sell the music at massively discounted prices. Understanding the Russian copyright laws is not easy.  Essentially the activities of these websites are not violating any Russian laws.  They are paying royalties – just far lower royalties due to the nature of Russia’s laws on foreign copyrights.

What is unclear is is whether anybody downloading music outside of Russia is violating any laws.  As one of the sites says “Every user who comes outside Russia has to realize that downloading files from the Internet can be illegal in his or her country.” Other countries have tried to pressure the Russian government into shutting these services down, but so far these sites have remained online.  While pressuring the Russian government has not worked, pressuring various financial institutions had been more effective. Although all the credit card companies have returned after briefly canceling services a few years back. 

In terms of privacy and security – I visited all these sites with ad blocking software on. In terms of email address privacy, I used anonymous email to test out these sites and so far have received no spam messages at these addresses. In terms of credit card security the websites are all secure and I have had no issues – but realize you are making purchases from companies located in Russia.  Don’t expect websites with features or awesome service – these sites are all about the price.  

GoMusic.ru has music available from over 55,000 artists. These include many popular artists, and some of the more obscure ones as well.  Downloads are about 0.15 per track and between 1 and 2 dollars per album. In terms of payment you have to fund your account with a payment from a credit card – a minimum of $20 or $25 based on the card used.  Payment processing is handled by Dotpay which is a fully licensed payment processing company based in Poland.

MP3panda is by far the cheapest service around. The theme will make you think China, but this is a Russian website. Most albums are available for under a dollar, some even for a few cents. Individual songs can be purchased for 0.05$ standard price. The site currently provides over 35,000 artists with over 170,000 albums, which adds up to about 1.9 million songs. If you’re unsure about the service, you can have a taste by downloading songs from their free album of the day – one of the best deals you will find on these sites. MP3Panda takes most major credit cards and requires a minimum funding of $20.

LegalSounds is another wonderfully cheap service that has obviously had some fun with their site name. With about 120,000 artists, and a total of 2.1 million songs, this one is very much the winner for quantity. The price per song is equal to that of GoMusic.ru with 0.09$, but the albums are slightly cheaper, hovering just under $. They always offers the US top 40 for free – clearly a very nice deal. In terms of payments, most major credit cards are accepted, with a minimum deposit of 25$. This is my least favorite of the sites because it is slower and you have to download their software to manage your music downloads. However, given the price and the free top 40 – it clearly makes this list.

The list goes on - Just Music, MP3 Fiesta, MP3 Skyline and MP3 Sale are just a few of the other sites.  Legal or not - each downloader will have to decide for themselves!

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