Buying Music Online

I know this sounds stupid in the year 2020 for a few reasons but...

I have spent the last 10 years in the Android system which means I have bought all my music through Google Play Music. My online overlords have decided that they are finished with a product that allows users to own something and have decided to shuttle us all to YouTube Music(barf). I figured I would give it a try and mostly I hate it but at least it works if you jump through enough hoops to keep it from trying to stream by only playing my uploads. Unfortunately, I tried to buy a new album last Friday and found it impossible to do so through YouTube Music(barf).

I obviously am not moving to Apple at this point and I would prefer to not have to rip a CD in the year 2020. Where do I buy (to own) music online (not physical media) now?

Amazon is about the only place I know of that still offers MP3 purchases of records.

Also if you pay for Plex you can stream music from your computer to your phone and listen to it just like the other streaming products. Though I still don't like it nearly as much as I liked using Google Play Music.

Why not just buy them from iTunes? I know you said you are not moving to Apple, but you don't have to. iTunes songs are DRM-free, they are just AAC format. You can easily convert them to MP3 if you want them in that format, you can even do it within iTunes.

I buy vinyl for bands I want to support. Bandcamp is the most ideal way for digital. Short of that, I'll just go Amazon for a digital purchase.

I buy most of my music from (a offshoot of the legendary Warp Records), but they have a narrow (but very very deep) niche. If you're looking for electronica, hip hop, alternative, house, techno or experimental stuff, and particularly if you're into vinyl, it's AMAZING. As a bonus, they usually offer lossless formats instead of sh*tty mp3s, albeit for an extra buck or two.

Anything I can't buy from there, I check Bandcamp or Soundcloud to see if I can buy directly from the artist, and if not, then Apple: as LeapingGnome said, it's DRM free and I use dBpoweramp to convert to my preferred format.

I obviously am not moving to Apple at this point and I would prefer to not have to rip a CD in the year 2020. Where do I buy (to own) music online (not physical media) now?

I know you say you don't like Apple, but I'm pretty sure it's easy to get Apple Lossless files there, DRM-free. All lossless formats are effectively the same, as you can freely convert them with no loss of quality. On Windows, foobar2000 is an amazingly good music converter, for instance. I think of it as a Swiss army knife for tagging and converting, masquerading as an excellent, low-load music player.

My rule of thumb is never to pay for any lossy format. You can't convert them to other lossy formats without taking a major quality hit, so you're locked into that exact size and acoustic model forever. If you have MP3s, you can't shrink the files or change to Ogg Vorbis without taking a massive quality hit.

But, if you have a lossless source, you can generate any lossy format you want, at whatever bitrate you need. On desktops, drives have gotten so huge that the storage space for music is nearly irrelevant, and you would keep them in lossless format. (I like FLAC, myself, as it can handle multichannel audio and is generally very well thought out. ) For smaller devices like phones, you can churn out a customized loadout at exactly the size you want. Foobar is extremely fast at doing this... it can do a huge library in just a few hours, as it knows how many CPUs you have and spins off exactly that many encoding threads, and modern mp3 and ogg encoding is fast as hell. On my old 4790K processor I can encode at about 250x faster than listening speed, which typically means about 10 seconds per album. It would likely be much faster on a newer chip.

So look for any lossless format, ideally whatever is cheapest, and buy that. Apple is the only source I'm certain sells lossless, but there are probably others. Convert whatever you buy into whatever lossless format you like (again, FLAC is a very very good choice there), and you're handled.

I still like buying CDs and ripping them, but they're getting scarce these days.

I honestly didn't know that iTunes was available in anything other than Apple products, which I own none of. I would prefer not to give my money to anyone other than the artist if possible but I know that is often not an option. I will try a few of these options. Thanks so much for the assistance everyone.