I admit it. I love iTunes. How can you argue with 99 cents per song? Especially if you're like me and you only like one or two songs per album. You can pay a small price for just the songs you want, rather than purchasing the whole album.

But there are other players in the music download market who may be poised to snatch some market share from Apple.

One up-and-coming competitor for music downloads is Amazon. Its MP3 store was launched in September, and single songs are selling for only 89 cents.

An extra benefit from Amazon? The songs are in basic MP3 format without any of the "digital rights management" controls on them like on Apple's downloads. This means that consumers can download the songs and put them on any MP3 player (not just an iPod).
The big drawback? Amazon's downloads are limited right now because it only has songs from a few record labels, but is expected to get contracts with some of the bigger record labels soon.

Those shopping for down-loadable music should do themselves a favor and shop Amazon first. If a track is available there, buy it at a bargain compared to iTunes and get the flexibility of playing it on any MP3 player. If it's not available on Amazon, use iTunes as a last resort.

Chances are, the more consumers buying music from Amazon, the sooner it will be able to ink deals with the bigger record labels. Let's increase the number of downloads from Amazon, and we may have even more titles to choose from sooner than we thought.

Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.

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