2021 update: Luckily, CD Universe survives. See below. The original text of this blog post follows:
With three weeks until Christmas, time is running out to select those musical stocking stuffers.
Skip the malls and the "big box" stores. Here are three online music sites with a catalog of tunes guaranteed to please any musical scrooge.
1) Half.com (link removed) - Acquired by eBay within the past few years, Half.com is a treasure for hard to find music, lots of it no longer available either from record company catalogs, or by digital download.
Many of the Half.com CD's are used and are available for just pennies on the dollar. A high percentage are brand new and are still in the original shrink wrap.
Select the music link on the Half.com home page, and search away. Read the ratings of the sellers to evaluate their reputation within the community.
Allow at least two weeks for snail mail delivery. You'll receive most orders in three - four business days, but remember, most Half.com sellers are not retailers.
2) CD Universe A specialist for both music CD's and DVD's (VideoUniverse.com), CD Universe has a very deep catalog and is an excellent resource. Anyone can post a review of a CD. You'll find the reviews honest and helpful in cutting through the promotional hype.
3) iTunes Last, but not least, the new leader in the digital download universe was created by Apple to drive the iPod revolution.
You don't need an iPod to take advantage of iTunes. Download their free software for Mac or PC, install it, then go to town.
Download tracks, or complete albums. Burn your own CD's from your purchases using the iTunes software to create unique collections (in the ultra popular MP3 file format).
iTunes is incredibly easy to use. Like other Apple products, it's very intuitive to figure out. Call it elegantly simple. That's one reason why iTunes has delivered over 1 billion downloads.
These three popular websites rescue you from the "brick and mortar store marathon" by making instant online connections for melodic holiday gifts.