Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

January, 2005

 TECHNOLOGY TALK:

BY JOHN ANDERSON  

"Internet Music Stores"
By John Anderson

Have you received a new digital music player this holiday season? If you listen to music while at work, at home, in the car or while you are exercising, a digital music player lets you easily carry your favorite music collection wherever you go without toting your CD collection along with you.

The price on these wonderful little players has come down while their storage capacity has increased. Depending on what you buy, a simple player can hold about eight hours of music, or 128 songs. If you want to splurge on a more expensive player, you can find MP3 music players that hold from 1,000 to 10,000 songs; that’s 70 hours of music. The price of these players can range anywhere from $80 to $600, depending on your music needs.

Once you have added all of your favorite music from your personal CD collection, you will eagerly anticipate expanding your music library and filling any of that leftover storage space.

With the memory of anti-piracy campaigns and illegal file-sharing lawsuits still fresh in our minds, many people are still concerned about downloading music from the Internet. Well, here are a few places safe places to start.

Apple iTunes
(www.apple.com/itunes/)

Apple iTunes claims to have the largest catalog of legal music files. You can select from more than one million tracks. Before you buy, you can listen to 30-second previews of all songs. iTunes also features exclusive and pre-release tracks, as well as many rare, out-of-print albums. iTunes also offers a free weekly single. They even have gift certificates.

Songs are just 99 cents each, or you can buy an entire album for as little as $10. Once you purchase your music, you can burn individual songs onto an unlimited number of CDs for your personal use, listen to songs on an unlimited number of iPods and play songs on up to five Macintosh computers or Windows PCs.

Full-length music videos and over 9,000 audio books are also available through iTunes.

iTunes is not only the name of the Apple music store but also the Digital Jukebox Software used to download and manage your playlists. The software is free and has many built-in features.

MusicNow
(www.musicnow.com)

MusicNow lets you browse and sample music tracks for free. After you create an account, you can buy tracks for 99 cents and most albums for $9.99 using their free software.

A monthly fee is not required to download music, but MusicNow also offers two levels of subscription services: Premium Radio and Full Access. Premium Radio is $4.95 per month and offers all of their premium, commercial-free radio stations. A Full Access account for $9.95 per month will upgrade you to on-demand playing of tracks and albums from their huge music library.

MusicNow works within the Windows Media Player, but it requires the installation of the MusicNow software. After installation, MusicNow will work seamlessly with the Windows Media Player.

Napster
(www.napster.com)

That’s right: Napster is back, and it is an excellent source of legally-downloadable music files.

In 1999, Shawn Fanning’s Napster software brought the concept of fast and easy distribution of music over the Internet into the spotlight. After a number of legal battles, Napster was shut down before a deal could be made to compensate the artists and songwriters who produced the music. Napster is now back on the scene with safe, legal and reliable access to hundreds of thousands of songs. It boasts tens of thousands of artists with new artists and music added every day.

Napster has over 700,000 full-length, high-quality tracks you can listen to both online and offline. You can find your favorite music from the 1950s to today using interactive Billboard Charts organized by genre, year and season. Napster also has a Radio feature where you can listen to over 50 interactive, commercial-free stations like ’80s Radio, One-Hit Wonders and Party Anthems. You can listen to your old favorites and discover music that you’ve never heard before.

Have an obscure, favorite song? See who else likes it and check out what else they are listening to. Napster lets you connect with other music fans to find new music by looking at what other subscribers are listening to in real time. Napster subscribers can choose to participate in the Napster community by allowing other subscribers to view their music collections in their Napster Library.

You can also exclude tracks containing explicit content from your search results so that you or your children will not be able to access them.

While Napster charges $9.95 per month, it also offers Napster Light. You can use Napster Light to search and browse 30-second clips within Napster’s music catalog of over 700,000 tracks for free. Buy tracks for 99 cents and albums and Napster Custom Compilations starting at $9.95. Subscribers can save up to 20 percent (as low as 80 cents per track) when they buy multiple tracks at one time.

Free Music Online

You can still find massive amounts of free music online using peer-to-peer services, such as Kazaa (www.kazaa.com), which offers millions of songs, but the quality of downloads are often poor and unpredictable. These types of software programs normally state in their End User License Agreement that they are not to be used to share copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright owner. The software is legal to use but transferring copyrighted content is not.

Purchasing music online form digital music stores is often much cheaper than purchasing the CD in a music store. Online music stores also offer dependable, fast and fully-legal downloads of good-quality music files.

Whichever service you choose, it is certainly a small price to pay to be able to take your favorite music everywhere you go.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: January, 2005

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