I celebrated Easter yesterday by listening to J. S. Bach's Mass in B-Minor, which Alberto Basso called "...the most astounding spiritual encounter between the worlds of Catholic glorification and the Lutheran cult of the cross."* The performance was by the American Bach Soloists, in a recording of excellent sound quality.
The outfit I downloaded it from, called Magnatune, is a new discovery to me, and it's fascinating. You can:
• Listen to entire recordings online (with a velvety female voice DJ'ing between tracks)
• Buy a physical CD through the site; or
• Download the music, in your choice of format and, hence, sound quality: MP3 (takes about 5 minutes), OGG, FLAC, iTunes-friendly AAC, or WAV (CD quality, takes about an hour).
No DRM (digital rights management, i.e., copy protection).
And get this: You decide what you want to pay for the download. There's a $5 minimum, and it goes up from there to "$8, typical" to "$12, generous" to "$18, we love you!"
Half of whatever you pay goes directly to the artists (which, in all cases, is probably equal to or better than the artists see from their conventional contracts).
And that's not all: they encourage you to share the download URL and your password with three of your friends, so they can download the same music you did...for free. All legal and above-board, no morally questionable IP theft happenin'. (You're on your honor not to give the password to more than three people.)
The site's selection is minuscule, and it's heavy on ambient and New Age, which I'm personally not particularly into. The classical section is probably the site's most extensive, and even that is pretty limited. That's mainly a philosophy, though: the highly edited/selected approach as opposed to the please-every-taste kitchen sink approach. So, okay.
Still, an interesting venture and one I'm glad to know about. Maybe you will be too. Anyway, it's kind of fun to browse their artists.