If it's too good to be true, there must be something wrong with it. I've bought about two dozens of albums at allofmp3.com (here is the link to my previous article) in the past couple of weeks and I am, in general, happy about it. They're dirt cheap, great quality, no DRM and have huge selections. Can't really complain. But I'm about to.
The payment system
Being a Russian company, allofmp3 provides an anonymous payment method called XROST (which lets you pay via paypal) to ease the mind of security-paranoid american users. For the first several times, it worked well, but recently they were moving their payment provider and I was forced to use their credit card payment system called Chronopay. (Now you can use CMPASS to buy an iCard which is the same as XROST and even shares the same account) When I tried to use it, I was able to make the payment but I couldn't get the pin-code (that's not good, huh?), which is required to refill your allofmp3 balance. I've sent numerous complaints to allofmp3, but haven't heard back from them yet.
There are three ways to download music today. If you purchased the music via their web interface, you will be sent the links of the files to download via email and you have the option to download it in your 'My Downloads' section on their website. In this case, I strongly recommend using a downloading agent like, Reget, Go!Zilla, FlashGet, GetRight, or NetVampire. The second download option is to use the "allofmp3 explorer". This is a windows client that lets you search, browse, purchase and download music. It's not as fancy as iTunes, but still works pretty well. The last option is to use their 'AllTunes' application. This is another windows client that does pretty much everything that allofmp3 explorer does. I am guessing that they are replacing their explorer with this new application.
The big problem is that their download service is quite unstable sometimes. When I was downloading The Flaming Lips album which consists of 56 songs, almost half of the songs couldn't be downloaded at the first try. I was expecting to be able to download again, but the links just disappeared as if they were downloaded successfully. Their FAQ states that, in such cases, you should just repurchase the songs and you won't be double-charged. So I did so, and I had to do this many times because some songs were keep failing at the end of the download process. Then I noticed that my balance was keep shrinking. So I checked my download history and found that they were charging me all along! I sent several complaints via their 'assistance' page, and I got the reimbursement the next day (whew!). I'm glad that they responded, but this just should never have happened in the first place. I still have this problem once in a while and now I have decided to only download the songs in a stable networking environment.
Is this really legal?
When I first heard about this site at the TWIT podcast, I was very excited to hear that this is actually legal. It is said that they are taking advantage of the loophole in the copyright law, but it is still legal. But today, in this week's TWIT, they were talking about this site again and this time they were saying that it is an illegal service. Even the Russian government declared them to be illegal.
These three issues really made me think again whether I should be using this service. Until I figure out, maybe I should check out emusic, which seems to provide DRM-free music at low cost ($.25 per song).