This guide will advise you on the things that you need to access music on the web, including your hardware and software requirements and your Internet connection. It will provide you with a step by step guide to downloading your favourite songs and pieces of music.
Music is recorded in a digital form on compact disks (CDs) and DVDs. This means that the music tracks, or songs, are created and stored as computer-readable files, essentially similar to word processing files, web pages and other forms of computer information. What this means is that, in common with other files, music can be transmitted over the Internet and downloaded from Web servers to your PC. In addition, these files can be written (or ‘burnt’) to CDs, and played in a CD player, hi-fi or portable stereo.
File Formats: MP3 etc.
Music files exist in a range of file formats. These include MP3, WMA, AAC, RA and many more. The most commonly used are MP3 (by far the most common) and WMA (Windows Media Audio). MP3s can be played by an increasing number of hi-fi, car radio, walkman and other devices. Apple and Microsoft have their own proprietary audio formats, as have smaller companies such as Real Audio.
A large number of sites on the Web provide access to music files which you can download, listen to and write to CD. Some of these sites do not respect the copyright of the artists and record companies responsible for the music; however, there are also many sites where you can legally download music (sometimes after payment).
Music Sites on the Net
In common with other types of website, very little comes for free on music sites and most good sites will be either selling something or advertising in the margins. The following sites are a sample of the multitude of sites available. For more website addresses please visit our website at www.lifesteps.ie
Copyright and Legalities
There are thousands of music sites on the Web and unfortunately not all of them are legal. However, Digital Rights Management (DRM) software has been developed to prevent audio piracy. Legal purchase supplies a certificate attached to the audiofile. This certificate basically acts as a licence to play.
If you use windows software, to access audiofiles that are DRM protected you will need Windows Media Player (WMP) Version 9 to play Windows Media Audio (WMA) files.
Apple Mac has created iTunes for Apple’s iPod, which is another type of media player, but they also have developed iTunes for Windows. iTunes has a built-in licence to play, and when you subscribe to iTunes all the legalities of downloading etc are already taken care of. iTunes are MP3s. MP3 is just another format for digital music files. MP3s are universally compatible, which means they can be played on any media player that supports them. AAC is a continuation of MP3s, a newer version.
Sites that sell music downloads include Napster, MyCokeMusic, Wanadoo, ITunes, MSN MusicClub, Tiscali, Wippit and Eircom.net’s Music Club. Almost all of these sites are limited to Windows Media Audio (WMA) files. Wippit is Mac, Linux and Windows compatible. ITunes is an Apple product, and uses MP3 files. All of the sites listed above operate in much the same way, supplying much the same product. Five of the sites buy their music from the same company, OD2.com
Some sites, including Mycokemusic and MSN allow you to pay by text messaging, but the most common form of payment is by credit card or subscription. Most sites show a security symbol, usually a padlock, on the bottom of the page. If in doubt, click on properties on the purchase page (where you are being asked for your credit card details) and the encryption details are displayed.