The Year-a-Month project rolls on. This month was 1977, and the albums on my list were:
ZZ Top - Tejas
Ted Nugent - Cat Scratch Fever
Judas Priest - Sin After Sin
I also picked up 1978's Judas Priest - Killing Machine because 1978 has six albums in it, and 1977 has only three. Buying Killing Machine evens it out a bit.
I had trouble finding Sin After Sin at Amazon, which is my default music spot, so I took advantage of a coupon I had at eMusic: $12.50 credit for 14 days. This was from an insert in a TicketMaster ticket delivery envelope. The link above will take you to the promotion page in case you're interested.
eMusic is interesting... it has a fairly good selection (no Metallica, boo!), and the music is about 1/2 the price of Amazon. The small catch is that it is a club - if you don't download anything, you still pay monthly. The lowest subscription rate is $6.50/month, which is applied toward your purchases. The big catch is that if you want to download more tracks than your subscription allows, you have to buy a "Booster Pack", good for 90 days, that "come in various increments"... but I couldn't get the website to tell me what increments. Your monthly subscription credit does not roll over. Use it or lose it.
I also didn't like that I couldn't browse their selection until I committed to starting my free trial. This is the sort of behavior that you expect from a service that is ashamed of its selection. They claim they have 9 million songs - that sounds like a lot, but I have no idea if it is or not. The only songs that matter in that 9 million collection, as far as I'm concerned, are the ones I want to buy right now. I looked for six of my late-70s albums, and found four. That's not a terrible hit rate, but not fantastic, either.
Another downside is that they will re-charge you for a song or album that you previously bought and lost. Technical problems involved in the download are solved gratis, but their FAQ implies that if I buy a bunch of music from them and then sometime later suffer a hard drive failure, I'm out of luck. I prefer Amazon's digital purchase history and re-download capability.
All in all, eMusic could save me a little money on this project. The fact that I buy music at a fairly constant rate every month makes me a good candidate for their club. But the savings is so small that it doesn't really overcome the downsides. I think I'll stick to Amazon for now, unless I can't find something I'm looking for there and have to shop around.