First, we heard about people (illegally) downloading music for free on the Internet. Then, after the music industry began to crack down on illegal downloading, came legal music sites that consumers could access for a small fee. Next came Internet radio, touting a channel for every musical whim. Here’s a look at some of the sources of music out on the Internet and what you need in order to take advantage of them.
Music Download Sites
Napster (www.napster.com), one of the original sites that spawned the music sharing revolution, has moved to a monthly subscription model. You have a couple of choices when subscribing to Napster. For $9.95 a month, you can listen to unlimited tunes from your PC, but you must download their software. For $14.95 a month, you can get Napster-to-Go that will allow you to download unlimited tunes to a compatible MP3 player. With either subscription, if you decide to burn a song to a CD, it will cost you $0.99 per track.
Apple’s iTunes (www.itunes.com) are playing everywhere: on computers, iPods and now, iPhones. Songs cost $0.99 each, music videos and TV shows cost $1.99, games are $4.99 and movies start at $9.99. There are audio books and podcasts (downloadable presentations) available, and there is already a large and still-growing library of free material as well.
There are many others as well, such as music.yahoo.com/ymu, www.rhapsody.com and musicdownloads.walmart.com.
The equipment you need for most sites is a personal computer with compatible software (usually available on the site for free), an MP3 player or an iPod. Be sure to check the specific requirements for the site you are interested in before purchasing a device, as not all devices work with all sites.
A common question is “how many songs will an MP3 player hold?” It varies depending on the length of the songs, but a good rule of thumb is that MP3s are around 1 to 1.5 MB per minute, so a four-minute song is about 4 MB. A 1-GB player (1 GB is approximately 1000 MB) will thus hold around 250 songs.
There are many radio stations available on the net, from strictly Internet stations to ones that are the online presence for local radio stations. Most play through media software already present on your computer, such as Windows Media Player. Some of the stations are www.windowsmedia.com/Mediaguide/Radio, music. yahoo.com, live365.com and www.shoutcast.com.
Pandora (www.pandora.com) takes a different approach. It asks you to enter artists or songs you like and then creates a “radio station” for you based on artists and songs similar to your entries. For those of us who need help finding lyrics when we can only remember bits of them, there is hope! Yahoo has put together a lyrics search engine for just that purpose at music.yahoo.com/lyrics. TPW