Guide to Finding Music Online

Are you frustrated because finding your favorite songs on the net has become
more of a chore than an enjoyable activity? Read this simple guide to
finding music online and your troubles will be out of mind before you
download your next Green Day hit!

MP3s are compressed music files that are one-tenth the size of regular audio
files. As a normal audio file requires about 40 megabytes to download, and
MP3 requires four. Although this is still a substantial number, it is much
more manageable for the average computer. Thus began the MP3 downloading,
sharing and trading craze. There are a variety of options when it comes to
playing your MP3s. Media Player comes with Windows, QuickTime 4 comes with
Macintosh, and Win amp is the industry standard product.

Music can be downloaded from websites or FTP sites. Websites are easier to
use. Songs download automatically when you click on the titles. Finding
good websites to download from is difficult. The sites that used to work
well now dabble in other venues. AlltheWeb.com and MP3.com usually only
contain independent, unknown bands that may be great, but if you’re looking
for the stuff you’ve heard of, you’ll be wasting your time. Audiofind now
carries radio stations instead of music files, and Audiogalaxy.com Music

Search requires a subscription.

Good websites to use are LycoMP3 Search,
MP3 Search on Altavista, MP3 Search at Astraweb, and MP3Bot Search Engine.
FTP sites usually require special software. Some free software options
include WS FTP and FTP Explorer. Oth Net (Kermit search) is a clean fast
way to download from FTP sites directly from the browser that works even
better than the software options.

In the wake of the Napster downfall, it has become mostly illegal to
download and share free music files on the web. Musicians are opposed to
the practice, and rightly so, because the free music sharing significantly
affects the commercial success of their CD sales in stores. Downloaders
tend to think musicians are being unfair by revoking the free music files
from the net, but one must remember that selling music is their career. It
is nearly impossible to find full albums on the web.

These days, musicians
will release a couple of new hits onto the net to try to entice the web
surfing crowd to wander into the music store and buy the full album.
Remember, if all else fails and you MUST have the MP3 of a song, there are
thousands of sites to which you can subscribe and pay for the downloads.

New bands are always willing to put their music out on the Internet in hopes
of getting heard, so free downloads are limitless if you are willing to lend
your ear to some new tunes.

Building Your Digital Music Collection

The previous two Tech Tips took a look at eight basic features of portable MP3 players worth considering before laying down some serious money on one of these devices. Once you have a nice new MP3 player with plenty of space for music, you need to fill it up! There are several ways to go about building your digital music collection, and we’ll take a look at a few ways to do so.

The first thing to address may be the term “MP3 player.” Many of these devices play MP3 files, in addition to a variety of other formats. Many of the files available for download are actually in a format other than MP3, but the term has been applied to cover this whole class of devices, whether it is 100% accurate or not.

Create Your Own

There are numerous software titles available that make creating MP3 files from CDs (or other sources) a simple process. Most involve minimal input from the user once they have configured their preferences, and will take the audio and convert it into the digital format of their choice. During the “ripping” process, most applications will query an online database, such as Gracenote (www.cddb.com), and take care of the file naming and ID tagging needed to make storing, sorting, and accessing the files a snap with most players.

Some of these applications may already be on your computer. Microsoft’s Windows Media Player (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/mp10/default.aspx) is one program that any Windows user already has that is more than ready for basic WMA and MP3 file creation. Just drop in your CD and click “Rip”. Many other titles may have come bundled with hardware included with your system. For example, many optical drives ship with a copy of Ahead’s Nero (http://ww2.nero.com/us/index.html) or a suite of software from Roxio (http://www.roxio.com/en/index.jhtml). Either will handle the DVD or CD burning they were intended for, but also have decent MP3 creation modules, as well.

There are a multitude of free, or at least free-to-try, MP3 encoding software titles, and a trip to your favorite search engine may provide a list longer than you care to investigate. Some names worth checking out include EZ CD-DA (Digital Audio) Extractor (http://www.poikosoft.com/), EZ MP3 Creator ([http://www.linasoft.com/ezmp3c.html]), and Virtuosa (http://www.virtuosa.com/index.php).

The great thing about digital audio files acquired this way is that they are yours to use on whatever device you choose. The same can not be said about files obtained from either of the next two methods to be discussed. The files obtained from legitimate download services are protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management), which restricts the use of the downloaded files to a limited number of computers and compatible portable devices, as well as protecting the songs from redistribution by the end user. The files are yours to use, but not as freely as you may want, and perhaps for only as long as you maintain your account with the download service.

Pay Per Download

There are two main types of legitimate online sources of digital music… those that charge you for each download, and those that require you to subscribe to a service on a monthly basis. They offer the same types of files, but take different approaches to suit your budget and music needs.

Apple’s iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/) may be the best known source for individual file downloads, thanks in no small part to the incredible popularity of the iPod MP3 player. What some may not know is that iTunes is not just for iPod owners, or Macintosh computer owners for that matter, but any PC compatible system can access the 99 cent downloads for use on their computer or compatible portable player.

Many other outlets offer digital music files for download, and even some mainstream brick-and-mortar stores have found their way onto the scene. Just as they have done with retail sales, Wal-Mart (http://www.walmart.com/music_downloads/introToServices.do) has managed to undercut the competition with their 88 cent music downloads.

Subscribe to a Service

Everyone is familiar with Napster (http://www.napster.com/) as one of the pioneers of file sharing, but they are back with a legitimate approach to music downloads. Although they do offer a program where you can download individual songs for 99 cents each, they offer monthly subscriptions for $14.95. This monthly fee allows for unlimited downloads, and could be the ticket for someone looking to keep their play list fresh on a regular basis. One caveat to this otherwise good solution is that the number of MP3 players supported is currently very limited. Also, once your subscription lapses, so does the ability to “access” your music. Basically, you are renting the songs.

Other subscription-based services are available, such as the one from eMusic (http://www.emusic.com/) that charges a monthly fee, but restricts the number of downloads permitted every month.

Choosing between a service that charges for every download or one that charges a flat monthly fee will most likely be determined by the volume of downloads one intends. If you only want a handful of songs every few months, it may be worth it to pay per song. But, if you intend to amass the ultimate collection of music ever known to man, subscribing to a service on a monthly basis is obviously more practical.

Go Underground

Whether through first-hand experience, or from the massive media attention, most people are well aware of other file sharing resources available on the Internet that can be used for acquiring MP3 files. Although the files are free, and users may feel they are operating anonymously, it may not be a safe means of acquiring media.

There are the obvious legal implications, as the RIAA has prosecuted file sharers for copyright violation (http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3497246), but there are other issues, as well. The integrity of the files being downloaded is not guaranteed, and people may wait patiently for a song to download only to find it is of poor quality, incomplete, or even worse… carrying a virus or trojan.

So, there are other pools of digital music, but swim at your own risk!

Final Words

Filling your new MP3 player doesn’t have to cost anything except the time it takes to encode the songs from your favorite CDs. But, paying for a download service is a sure way to have the songs you want as they become available and at a fairly reasonable price. These aren’t your only options for acquiring digital music, but when taking other routes, proceed with caution.

4 Tips to Pick an Unlimited Music Downloads Site

Unlimited music downloads are now made conveniently available through online music stores. Music lovers like the convenience of being able to transfer music to their MP3 players at lightning speed. It does not matter where you are or at what time, as long as there is an internet access, you can download as many songs as you love at these sites that offer unlimited music downloads.

Free download sites are not the best places to download music online simply because there are many problems associated with the files. Either you are getting corrupted files that your MP3 player like iPod or Zune cannot read or you are pulling viruses and adware onto your PC.

So that leaves us with the option of using paid membership sites that can offer genuine unlimited music downloads for an affordable fee. This is where we can a whole range of genres like rock and pop, R&B, rap, hip-hop, classical, Latin and more. Here are 4 tips to help you pick one excellent site.

1. Cost of No-limits Membership

Many sites nowadays charge you a flat lifetime fee to download music online. Make sure you do not need to pay per download or monthly for these sites. There are competitors that offer unlimited music downloads for less than $40. So do not be conned into paying more.

2. Selection of Media Files

While you are looking for music MP3s and soundtracks, you would be greeted pleasantly by sites that offer you other media files, even MP4. The better-run download sites now also offer you movies, videos, TV shows like LOST, HEROES and others. You can even find wallpaper and software that comes complete with your membership package without extra charges.

3. Multi-Genre of Music

You do get to download music online of many genres at several popular services. Be it rock, pop, rap, jazz and so on, you are sure to find them amongst the unlimited music downloads. Anyone can find the music from the slowest beat to the fastest.

4. Well-Rounded Service

This is subjective and everyone has a different yardstick but I tend to go with a strict one. Make sure that the service gives you excellent technical and customer after-sales service. The user interface needs to be simple to navigate around, and it must be able to cope with heavy traffic so that the music downloads are fast.

I have given you the keys to choosing the right site for music. Now it is time to head over to my music blog to check out where others are getting their unlimited music downloads.