MP3 music downloads have taken the music world by storm. In 2004, legal music downloads, worldwide, increased tenfold to more than 200 million. With the ease of downloading your favorite tunes directly onto your computer and then burning your own CD, people have really accepted the MP3 format for music downloads.
MP3 music downloads work very simply. Find a site that offers MP3 music downloads–there are hundreds of sites offering free music and there are subscription sites available as well (just search the Web for your personal favorite)–scan the inventory of songs available, select the songs or albums you want, and click on it to download it to your computer.
Truthfully, why do people download music from the Internet? To hear NEW music that is not available in any other form or to listen to records that have been deleted by the big label companies and are no longer available for purchase. The primary goal is not to save $5 in the used CD bin at your local record shop, but to hear music they simply can not find any place else. And let’s face it–most people don’t want to spend $17.95 to experiment on a CD they may not like or a CD that has only one good track.
Who gets hurt by Internet downloads. Besides a very few super-stars like Celine Dion, not many. In fact most artists actually benefit. The primary way that an artist becomes famous and successful is through exposure. Without exposure, no one buys tickets to concerts, no one buys CDs, no one buys the T-shirts, beer mugs or posters. Downloading music gives an opportunity to the newcomers and those struggling to make it “big.”
While the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sheds crocodile tears over the file-sharing programs they claim “rip off” the recording artists, the truth is, on average, a musician makes 41 cents on each CD sold. The record shops earn a couple of bucks per CD, and the greedy record companies accumulate astronomical and shameful profits.
While downloading music is easy and legal–so long as you follow all copyright laws–there are some concerns of which you should be aware. Make sure your MP3 music downloads are not filled with hidden programs that will ruin your music experience, and invade your privacy as well.
For example, spyware is nearly always present in MP3 freeware and shareware downloads. The spyware gathers information and monitors your computer activities without your knowledge. This unscrupulous use of the Internet has resulted in thousands of innocent users being victims of identity theft and fraud.
Secondly, adware (a form of unsolicited spyware that sends advertising directly to your computer) is also contained in many of these MP3 download networks. Your computer will be saturated with unwanted and intrusive ads.
Also prevalent on the MP3 networks is pornography. Be very alert to the fact that porn distributors disguise there software as the latest “free” MP3 download or game demonstration to redirect your computer to their sites.
Finally, be aware of “spoofing.” Spoofing occurs when download networks are filled with fake music files. For instance, you download what you think is a popular song, but all you get is the same ten seconds of the song over and over again.
In your search for the best downloadable MP3 sites, and to create your own music library of your personal favorites, be very selective of the sites you use. Probably the best known site is MP3.com, but there are literally hundreds of other sites such as Amazon.com, Glide Magazine, SoundShelf and ArtistGigs.com that offer free MP3 downloads.
In the pay for music subscription services, two of the best are probably EMusic and Apple’s iTunes Music Store, but again there are hundreds of other options.