Internet Opens Up World of Digital Music
Some of you may remember listening to 45 rmp records in a music booth at the local music store. That's when you could purchase a record with just the song you liked.
You would get another song by the same artist on the flip side of the record. It was still cheaper than purchasing the whole LP, and sometimes the song on the flip side turned out to be as popular as the main song.
If you are not quite old enough to remember that, perhaps you remember the huge music stores, where you could peruse thousands of CDs. You could roam up and down the long aisles and listen to a CD on headphones that were set up as listening stations. To get one song, you had to purchase the entire CD.
Times have certainly changed. Not a trace of those old stores remains. Now, if you want to buy music, you go to your computer, tablet PC or smart phone and surf over to Amazon, iTunes or Walmart. Once there, you can listen to a sample of the music and purchase it with a simple click of the mouse.
You no longer have to purchase a whole album to get one song. You no longer have to get in the car and go over to the music store. Everything can be done from your home or your current location.
For a few years, the music industry made purchasing music online more difficult by insisting on encrypting the music. Thankfully, all of that has changed. You can now purchase MP3s online without any encryption so you can play them on any device you own.
While the removal of encryption was by far the best news ever for music lovers, this week's announcement by Amazon is a close second. Amazon has slashed the price of many popular songs to 69 cents. Apple's iTunes store is currently selling the same songs for $1.29.
Don't you just love good old American competition? The Apple iTunes store commands about 70 percent of the digital music market. When Amazon, a smaller player in that market, lowers prices, either it gains customers, forces the competition to meet their price or both.
So this is a win-win for music lovers. In fact, just about everything in the digital music arena is beneficial for the average music listener.
In the good old days, most of us found new music by listening to the radio. Now, finding new music is easier. Get a free account at a website such as Pandora (www.pandora.com) or Slacker (www.slacker.com) and put in the names of some musicians that you like. The websites will suggest and play new songs that you may like.
You can purchase the music you hear or just enjoy listening on your computer or any type of digital music player for free.
If you still find music by listening to the radio, you can now install an app called Shazam on your smart phone. When you hear a song you like, just hold your smart phone up to the music and this app will identify the song and the artist and give you a chance to purchase it.
Even better is a website called Midomi (www.midomi.com), where you can hum a song and have the website identify it. Of course, Midomi also has apps available for smart phones if you want to do this while you are waiting at the dentist's office. Don't worry - if I see you humming into your phone, I'll know exactly what you are doing!
If you a true music aficionado you can also join music groups such as Rhapsody (www.rhapsody.com) or Zune (www.zune.com). For a subscription fee of about $10 a month, you can listen to anything you like from their catalogs, which contain millions of tracks of music.
These services have all genres of music. Whether you like Frank Sinatra or the Smashing Pumpkins, you are sure to find music you like. The music disappears if you cancel your subscription, but if you listen to a lot of music, this can be a great way to get inexpensive music.
Depending on their current offerings, you get to keep several of the songs each month. Also, services like this have vibrant music communities that you can join to discuss music, find new artists and share your music with friends.
While some of us may still play vinyl records and CDs, the move to digital music is one that is beneficial to everyone. So get out there and download, listen and dance!
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at email@example.com.
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