There used to be no substitution for a good recording job done in a professional recording studio. Now with the rising popularity of digital PC recording and the low cost of recording software, many people are re-thinking the idea of home recording. Plus with the ease of MP3 distribution, and the many sites that offer free web hosting and the ability to upload and download free music, the difficulty of promoting and distributing your band’s MP3s has been made very easy. The questions at hand are, what do I need to begin recording at home, how do I turn my recordings into MP3s, and what do I do with said MP3s after I am done creating them?
Home recording on a PC requires just a couple of things; a computer, recording software (i.e. Pro Tools, Cakewalk, Cubase), and a digital soundcard. If you will be recording multiple tracks from multiple sources at the same time, you might want to invest in a mixer as well. (This is assuming that your sound card only has one audio input) This will allow you input more than one instrument/microphone to your computer at the same time. Install your recording software and sound card drivers. Plug your mixer into your sound card, plug your instruments into your mixer and you’re ready to begin recording. The recording process may be a little different depending on what software you are using, but most decent software comes with a good instruction manual which you can consult if you are having problems. After recording, you will want to mix all tracks down to a stereo audio .wav file.
Now that we have our recording done and our .wav file in hand, we’ll want to convert it to an MP3 file. If you will be burning your tracks to CD, you won’t need to convert it to an MP3 file. But for distribution for music downloads on the web, the smallest, best quality, most universally accepted format will be an MP3 file. You can take your .wav file and export it as an MP3 through whatever audio recording program you use. Most recording software offers that option, but keep in mind that you might need to mess with the output settings to get the best quality MP3 out of your program. Another option is to use a stand-alone .wav to MP3 converter. If you go to download.com and search for “.wav to .mp3 converter”, you will be presented with a good list of programs that do just that. I have had good results using both methods, so it’s really up to you.
It is so easy to find places to download music online that you can simply do a search on the internet and you instantly can find millions of results. You would even find free services that provide you with free client software to download music online for free and share them with your friends. This can be tempting to users but you need to understand that using music sharing networks can prove to be a huge mistake.
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is taking action against some big time culprits who are sharing music online. This can be a potential pitfall against you if you download free music as well as share them using Peer-to-Peer P2P networks. So you are responsible for the way you treat this way of getting music. Of course, there are safer ways to download music online legally by spending a couple more dollars.
The file sharing client application that the P2P websites provide to you free is something you need to be careful with. While you may at first jump at joy that they are giving it to you free to download music online, this software is actually a gateway to a host of unwanted problems such as infiltration of spyware, adware and computer viruses.
These client software needs to be installed on your PC. Each time you download a music MP3 file, you could also be downloading an adware together. Once your computer gets clogged with too many of these advertisements spawning software, your entire computer would slow to a halt. Another malware, Spyware is a worse culprit in the sense that it would secretly send your personal details to people who can do a thousand and one things with the information.
As if these are not enough, each time you download music online in the unsecured environment, your PC also runs the risk of being attacked by viruses like Trojans and so on. File sharing software has been a big headache to users and unless you switch to using legitimate music downloading services, you probably would have to live with the potential risks.
So if you are now using P2P sites, the bare minimum you need to do is that make sure that your antivirus and anti-malware program are up to date. Still, that does not necessarily mean that your PC is safe since the hackers and rogue software programmers are constantly working hard to release stronger and more malicious malware and viruses.
Another problem with downloading music online for free at P2P sites is the exposure to pornographic material. The music file may actually contain a link to a pornographic site and your teen may become an unknowing victim as a result. So parents, watch how you are getting your music files as well as keep watch over your kids.
If you’re a digital music fan, you probably have problems organizing your music file collection. For me, I used to have hundreds of MP3 files lumped in one folder in my hard drive. Can you imagine the pain I had to go through to find one specific tune to listen to?
Organizing your music files is an important skill to learn. Once your collection is nicely sorted out, you’ll be able to find the songs you want quickly and easily. So set aside some time and read through the following tips I’ve come up with.
- Create Subfolders
The single most important tip for organizing your music files is to create subfolders in your hard drive. Don’t ever leave your MP3 files in one huge folder called C:My Music. Create subfolders like C:My MusicClassical, C:My MusicPop and C:My MusicSoundtracks.
- Ensure your ID3 Tags Are Correct
ID3 tags are used to store important information about MP3 files. Things like the song title, artist, album are kept and will be displayed by your MP3 player. Take the time to properly edit these tags – many MP3 files you download have the ID3 tag information all wrong. A good software program for editing ID3 tags is TagScanner.
- Invest in Good Music Management Software
There are several excellent pieces of software out there for managing music files. Two good ones come to mind. The first is MediaMonkey and the second is MusicMatch Jukebox. Both programs offer excellent music management features like an integrated music player, CD burning features and ID3 tag renaming.
- Get Your Music Files from Legal Sources
If you’ve been downloading music using P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing programs like KaZaa, you will very likely get music files which have strange names like 56_HeyjAck.mp3. My advice: Get your files from legal sources like online music services iTunes or Napster and you will avoid this problem.
- Create Good Playlists
Most software music player (e.g. Winamp) will allow you to create playlists. For example, say you’re in the mood for rock songs, you can point to your folder called C:MusicRock and create a playlist from that folder. Save the playlist after it is created. When you next feel like listening to those songs, all you need to do is load that playlist instead of trawling through your hard drive and folders.
- Get A Huge Hard Drive
I know this sounds a little crazy – but running out of disk space can and will ruin your well-organized music collection. Make sure you have enough hard disk space to store your music files. Say you have 10,000 music files that you absolutely must retain and listen to. It is a very bad idea to store, say, 8,000 files in Hard Drive A and 2,000 files in Hard Drive B. Very messy. It’s better to store them all in one hard disk. So get your hands on the biggest hard drive you can find.
It was reported recently quality music downloads for iPhone are much sought-after. Among these searches, many are more interested to find places where they can have them cheap rather than paying the regular $0.99 for a song download. People are also ditching free sites that provide music downloads for iPhone as these sites are often plagued by big problems like adware, spyware and viruses threats.
There are basically 2 alternatives when it comes to finding music downloads for iPhone. There are music stores or clubs that either charge you on a monthly or yearly subscription basis, or those that offer you a lifetime membership for a flat fee. These are the best places nowadays for quality mainstream music and the billboard chart hits without overspending.
It seems quite obvious that more and more people see the value in opting for the membership flat fee model. If you were to compare the pricings of different offers, the difference between the lifetime membership fee and yearly fee is only a couple of dollars. People love the fact that they can gain unlimited access to the huge databases at the sites for as long as they want.
The funny thing about why the yearly option for music downloads for iPhone is still quite popular continues to amaze many music industry watchers. Industry professionals claim that people have the mentality that they can make use of that one year to download as many songs and music video as they like before their memberships expires. But they fail to realize that these services are constantly updating their portfolio with new songs. So once your membership ends, you effectively are blocked from receiving any more new downloads.
Another explanation for why some are opting for a short-term subscription such as a 1 month option is their doubt about the service. They wanted to try out the service and see if they are good first before continuing with the yearly or lifetime option. If they are no good, they would just move on to another music service.
The fact is, hopping from site to site may very well end up costing them even more for the music downloads for iPhone. After all, this is really not necessary with the 60-day money-back guarantee offered by many of these services. Plus, you really cannot make a good judgment on the quality of service within a short 1 month. Very often, it takes some fiddling around to really understand the difference between all the competing stores.
For the price tag of $30 to $60, you get a lifetime membership entitlement. Do not quickly jump for the $30 option thinking that you got the best deal. It is not always the case. For a professional service to continue maintaining its site and offer quality service, it takes money and if the club membership fee is too cheap, it could mean a compromise in its quality.
When choosing the right site for your music downloads for iPhone, other than pricing difference, always compare them in terms of the type and selection of music, genres, security of site, download speeds and so on. These should be more crucial than just prices. You would not regret it even if you pay more for quality.
Create Custom CDs from Rhapsody Tracks and Tracks from Your Library
Rhapsody gives you the option to burn music that you have purchased to a CD. All you need is a blank CD-R (CD-Recordable) or CD-RW (CD-Rewritable) disk and a compatible recording drive on your computer and you are on your way to creating custom audio CD’s that can be played on standard CD players. Most of the music in Rhapsody’s Music Guide can be purchased and burned, allowing you a vast array of mixing possibilities for your CD collection. An average CD-R holds 80 minutes of music which is anywhere from 17 to 25 songs depending on the length of the tracks.
Follow these instructions to learn how to burn a CD in Rhapsody:
- Insert a blank CD-R or CD-RW into your computer’s CD rewritable drive.
– Note: Not all CD players can play CD-RWs. I recommend using CD-R disks for maximum compatibility and for the most flexibility when listening to your CD on other devices, such as car stereos and portable CD players.
- Add tracks to the Burn a CD icon (rhapsody burn cd icon ) rhapsody burn cds source imagein the Sources area by one of the three following methods:
o Drag and drop tracks and albums from My Library to rhapsody burn cd iconBurn a CD.
o Drag and drop an entire playlist from the Playlists area to rhapsody burn cd iconBurn a CD.
o Drag and drop tracks and albums from the Music Guide to rhapsody burn cd iconBurn a CD.
– Note: At this time, tracks that don’t have Buy next to them are not yet available for purchase and CD burning. So, be sure the tracks you want to burn have Buy next to them. Also remember, that Rhapsody is securing the rights to new music every day, so check back often.
- Click the rhapsody burn cd icon Burn a CD to display the Burn queue in the Display area. The minutes available on your blank CD and the minutes free (after adding the tracks using step #2) are displayed at the bottom of the Burn queue.
- You now have the option to rearrange the order of all or some of the tracks in the Burn queue, by dragging them into position within your list. You can delete tracks by selecting them and pressing the [Delete] button on your keyboard.
– Note: If an error icon (rhapsody error icon ) appears then you have selected a track that is not available to purchase and burn. There are 3 places where the error icon will appear, to the left of the track, to the right of rhapsody burn cd iconBurn a CD in the Sources area, and at the bottom of the Burn queue. You have the option to click the error icon at the bottom of the Burn queue to learn more. The error dialog will give you the opportunity to remove the tracks that are causing the errors.
- If you need to change your CD burning preferences, at the top of the Music Guide, Select Tools > Preferences: CD Burning from the Rhapsody menu. (Rhapsody recommends that you allow the system to choose your burn speed.)
- Once you have finished steps 1 – 5 you are ready to burn a CD. Now click Start Burn at the top-right of the Burn queue. You will then be prompted to purchase any streamed or downloaded tracks that you have placed in your Burn queue.
– Note: If there happens to be any tracks that you do not wish to purchase you have the option to cancel your current burn from the Payment Wizard. Delete the tracks from the Burn queue, and restart your burn by clicking Start Burn.
- You may receive a message that says, “The tracks will not all fit onto one disc. Do you want to burn only the tracks that fit?”
o Click Yes to continue the burn and leave off the tracks at the end of the list that will not fit on the CD.
o Click No to cancel the burn. You must now delete and rearrange the tracks in your Burn queue to fit on the CD.
– Remember that the minutes used on your CD are listed at the bottom of your Burn queue.
- If you choose to delete and rearrange tracks, click Start Burn again to restart the burn process.
- Once the burn process has started, you can watch the progress of your burn in the status bar at the bottom of the Burn queue. A notification will appear when your burn is complete.
While in the past music CDs have been the main medium for collecting music, nowadays MP3s have become mainstream and iPods and media players have started to replace the classic CD player. I am going to look at some new ways to create, manage and enjoy your iPod music collection and also some neat iPod accessories such as wireless headphones and audio transmitters.
Storing songs as MP3s on a computer or media player offers a lot of advantages over keeping CDs. Songs are instantly accessible without having to search for CDs. No more skipping tracks due to scratched CDs. MP3s can store additional information such as title, artist, album, category as well as pictures. Having properly tagged MP3s helps keeping your music collection organized and instantly play any track you desire.
There are several ways to build your music collection. The first way is to convert your existing CD collection. This is done by using a so-called CD ripper. The track is read from the CD by the ripper and stored on a computer. However, you still need to input information such as track name, CD name etc. which can be rather tedious. There are some software packages available which can automatically tag songs.
However, these services are not 100% reliable and do not work on all tracks. Buying music as MP3s avoids this problem. Songs are already properly tagged. There are some other tools available for obtaining larger amounts of music without having to purchase or download individual tracks such as iGetMusic. These tools record online music services and will tag each song.
Audio quality will mostly depend on what bit rate is used. A higher bit rate will usually result in better sound quality but a larger file size. If you have enough disc space, you probably won’t have to worry about file size. If you want to put music on a portable player though such as an iPod, you’ll have to compromise between sound quality and the number of songs you can put on your player.
In addition to MP3, there are several other formats available such as WMA or AAC. Some more advanced formats such as AAC Plus will achieve the same audio quality at only half the file size of MP3. However, some MP3 and media players do not yet support some of these newer audio file formats.
Once you have built an MP3 music collection, you can enjoy it on your home media player or download your tracks onto a portable player to enjoy on the go. Having properly tagged tracks will allow you to easily find any track or play any particular album. Some media and MP3 players will also be able to display CD covers.
By using a wireless audio transmitter, you can stream the music from your computer throughout your home without running long cables. You connect the transmitter to your computer or media player. The receiver then connects to your speakers. If you prefer listening over headphones, using wireless headphones will help you enjoy your music without being tethered to your PC by a cord. When picking a wireless transmitter or pair of wireless headphones, choosing a model which employs digital transmission avoids loss of audio quality.
Okay, it’s time for me to finally say goodbye to my portable disc player, and join the online and portable music revolution. Okay, the revolution isn’t so new any more, nor is my computer, but as I wade through the sea of options for how to download music, listen to and buy online tracks, I grow more eager to get my feet wet and eventually suit up to take the plunge. But I happen to be a bit more practical than that. So, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the last few weeks trying to determine what’s best for my lifestyle, my wallet and my computer.
First thing I realized when searching all of the music services is that things seemed to work a lot smoother with a broadband connection (and most services seem to point that out from the get go). Just like my CD Walkman, the time had come for me to lose my ancient dial-up connection to the online experience. It actually turned out to work in my favor as my cable company gave me a good deal on high-speed, and also threw in a discount on my existing costs for cable TV.
Now that I was “connected” at an acceptable speed to the Web, I had to determine, what I was trying to get out of the online music experience. After some intense melodious soul searching, I realized that the only thing the separated me from the perpetually hip is perhaps the types of music I was searching for, and the amount of time I wanted to spend online searching for music.
The guy who sits next to me has a 60 GB iPod, and is complaining that it is almost full. That’s over seven thousand songs. I don’t know that I would even live long enough to listen to that many songs. My needs were simpler. I had an MP3 player still in the box from two Christmas’ ago, and it promised to hold over 500 songs. That would be perfect for me, at least in the short term.
Next, what was I looking for in my new online music experience? Did I want to listen to music on my PC, in my car or on my MP3 player? Yes to all three. Did I want to listen to the radio while I was on my PC? Again, yes. Did I want to trade music with others online in a peer-to-peer Napster-like environment? Eh, that one scared me a little, and I decided that opening up my files to strangers made me feel dirt, so I put that one on hold.
My next stop in determining how I would “music online” was price. I searched dozens of sites and services, but narrowed my sights to three of the big guys: AOL Music Now, iTunes and Rhapsody Music Service (provided by Real Networks).
I already had AOL, so I signed up for their Music Now product for $8.99/month (that’s in addition to their monthly fee as an ISP). I was able to download songs, listen to them while “offline” and burn them to CD or move them over to my MP3 player for an additional fee per song. That seemed to be standard across most of the services. Music Now was a follow up to the original AOL Music Net, which I actually liked better because it ran locally on machine and the new Web-based Music Now takes much longer. AOL also has a partnership with iTunes, so you can be on AOL, but iTunes will launch and then you’re actually in the iTunes application. It’s confusing. If I want to move my downloaded songs to my MP3 player, the monthly fee jumps to $14.95 per month, and if I want to put them on a CD, I pay and additional 99 cents per track. This is too much money for me. I typically buy one or two CD’s a month, and that would be cheaper than this online service. Not to mention you have to be an existing AOL member (more money per month) in order to even use the product. I’m passing on AOL Music Now.
On to iTunes. Okay, so there is no monthly fee for iTunes. Love that. And I can purchase songs for 99 cents per track. Love that too. But wait. I don’t have an iPod, and iTunes has songs in their proprietary MP4 format. Ugh. The cheapest iPod out there is around $99 (so much for no monthly fee), and it’s not the model I would select. I like my MP3 player. If I already had an iPod, this may be the route I would go, but Apple tends be very inflexible, and I hate to be tied to one provider, player and format. There is also a limit to how you can share the songs on your home network. I feel like even though I own the song, I’m being watched on what I do with it. Good bye big brother.
Rhapsody Music Service from Real Networks. So far they are the least expensive. $9.99 per month and that’s with unlimited access to over 1.3 million songs. I do have to have pay the additional 99 cent fee if I want to burn to CD or transfer to my MP3, but that is the industry standard for paying the artists, and the monthly fee is five dollars less per month than AOL. The music comes over in the more widely supported MP3 format and the songs are mine to rip transfer or share with my other computers on my home network. Like the other two, I can listen to live radio on my pc, but I like the freedom I get with Rhapsody Music Service. I’m not being watched, and the music is mine.
Now that I know how to download music and have chosen Rhapsody Music Service, I’m on my way to joining the new world of portable digital music. I’ve already burned several CD’s for my car, albeit with an older man’s twist on today’s favorites, and transferred those same songs over to my little antiquated MP3 player for those long weekend walks.
Now I’ve got to start looking for a replacement for my VCR. Onward and upward!
Scott Parks is a freelance writer living just outside of Boston, who has spent the last 15 years working in the high tech and telecommunications industries. The majority of his career has been spent focused on the project management and development of corporate Internet, intranet and portal sites for XO Communications and Lucent Technologies. His present client list includes such companies as Brand Digital, Digital Promotions, in Washington and Choice Hotels in, Maryland.
It’s the age of freebies. These days, we can download e-books, stream movies, and listen to music, all for free – and legally! It’s just a question of where to find these goodies.
So as far as music is concerned, where can we get them for free? Here are some sites you would want to check out:
- Grooveshark (grooveshark.com).Grooveshark is one of the largest music streaming services in the world. This site allows you to find and listen to your favourite music, make your own personalized playlist, browse for new songs, and share them on social networking and bookmarking sites with just one click.
You can listen to free unlimited radio on your Android, Blackberry, Nokia, Jailbroken iPhone, or HP Web OS smartphone by simply downloading the Grooveshark app.
It also has features such as the video mode, which lets you watch YouTube videos of your favourite songs; the Power Hour mode, which automatically moves you to a new song every 60 seconds; and the visualizer, which adds a visual element to accompany your music.
- Spotify (spotify.com). The Spotify free account gives you instant access to millions of tracks for your streaming pleasure. You can play and organize your own MP3s, and you can share them with your friends, as well as get your friends’ recommendations, and listen to them instantly with just a click of a Facebook button.
If you want to listen to music offline on your desktop or mobile, though, you’ll need to get the paid Premium account.
- We7 (we7.com).We7 is a free music-streaming service available to users from Ireland and the UK. It has more than 6.8 million tracks from four major record labels and a huge number of independent labels. If you wish to purchase the tracks, you can do so from the in-site store.
- Last.fm (last.fm).If you like listening to music but are too lazy to search for the music you like, try Last.fm, a music recommendation service. Just sign up, download the Scrobbler software, and let that little tool deliver personalised recommendations based on what songs or artists you listen to most often.
- Soundclick (soundclick.com).This site has been around since 1997, so it must be good, right? To date, its catalogue holds over 2.5 million tracks that you can listen to through live streaming. Some of the music is available for free and legal download.
- Audio Archive (archive.org/details/audio).If you’re looking for free songs, poetry readings, audio books, old-time radio shows, and even alternative news programs, you can find over 200,000 of those from Audio Archives’ MP3 and audio library.
- ArtistServer (artistserver.com).People looking for non-mainstream artists and their music can find them at ArtistServer. Choose from over 8,000 free and legally downloadable songs from this website. There is a full range of genres to choose from – country, rock, jazz, metal, blues, classical, hip-hop, folk, and many others – all recorded by unsigned artists, who use the site to promote their work.
Microsoft is eyeing to provide music service in its Xbox Live platform. A report by CNET showed the technology giant is trying to find ways together with several major record labels to come up with an application that would offer similar service to Spotify, MOG, Pandora, Rdio and some other streaming music subscriptions.
This new plan by Microsoft came after its initial failed bid to win customers who like music through Zune Music Pass.
It is safe to bet Microsoft would provide an Xbox Live name to this planned new service instead of resurrecting the Zune brand. The new application would launch on the Xbox 360, upcoming revisions of the Windows operating system, and Windows smartphones. CNET’s sources did not confirm the details how exactly the service will be delivered and how much the music industry would get paid from subscription fees of the service. Microsoft simply provided a rough outline of the service that includes streaming music and downloads.
There was also a speculation that the company will team up with Nokia and HTC on proposed phones that can use the potential service.
It is expected that the record labels would work hard to make this deal happen. After all, Microsoft’s gigantic Xbox Live fan base is declared to be near 40 million worldwide. Record companies will definitely make more money by making higher profile in this huge market.
The move is definitely a strategic one for Microsoft to better compete against Google’s own with its Google Music and Android operating system. Many other major phone makers have also taken steps to strengthen their music features. A good example is HTC’s acquisition of a majority stake in Dr. Dre’s Beats to augment the company phones’ capabilities. Last August of 2011, Research in Motion also announced its plan to upgrade its Blackberry Instant Message service.
The current Microsoft’s Zune Music Pass priced at $9.99 a month no longer allows 10 music downloads a month although subscribers can still opt to pay the more expensive $14.99/month that allows downloads of up to 10 songs. Using the Zune Music Pass on Xbox 360 also requires a Gold Xbox Live subscription.
It can be difficult finding good music that is appropriate for your dental practice. Say you have patients waiting in the lobby for you, or even being placed on hold while trying to schedule an appointment over the phone. Music can be a nice added touch to make them feel more at ease and help pass the time. But maybe you aren’t quite sure where to go to find appropriate music that works with your office setup.
Of course, you could always go with Muzak, but who wants to feel like they’re waiting inside an elevator? Then there is always the radio, but who wants to listen to three songs in a row followed by seven minutes of DJ banter and commercials? And, if you think that you can just hook up your iPod and play your tunes… well, that might not exactly be legal, since most copyrights have provisions against unlicensed use in public settings (like a dentist’s office).
Well, here are some suggestions for where you can find good music that you can use in your workplace.
PANDORA FOR BUSINESS
One of the Internet’s leading music services, Pandora, is now available for business use. Pandora gives you a lot of flexibility in finding music types that suit your ear. You do not have the option of queuing up individual songs as you would with other music services; instead, you get a random, almost radio-like shuffle of ad-free songs. But, you can set preferred types of music and further customize what you hear by using Pandora’s Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down buttons.
Pandora for Business is handled by a company called DMX. The Pandora subscription costs $24.95 per month, and there is also a one-time fee of $99 for the required DMX ProFusion broadband media player, which you can hook up to the sound system in your office.
SIRIUSXM MUSIC FOR BUSINESS
SiriusXM, like Pandora, offers a business-friendly subscription plan that lets you stream music from all types of genres for all sorts of tastes. With 85 channels to choose from, they can even supply you with on-hold music for patients on the phone. The receiver connects easily to the sound system in your office, too.
Subscriptions start at $29.95 per month, and all you need is a broadband internet connection.
GRACE DIGITAL AUDIO BUSINESS MUSIC SYSTEM
The Grace Digital Audio Business Music System is a Wi-Fi-enabled radio player that connects with SiriusXM’s Music for Business service. The best thing about this particular receiver is that you can easily hook it up to your dental office phone system and your office’s sound system as well. The radio player uses a broadband internet connection (either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi), and makes giving music to your patients and staff a breeze!
The receiver itself costs $199, in addition to the monthly SiriusXM Music for Business subscription.
If setting up your own in-office music solution sounds like too much for you, you can look into a professional third-party service that specializes in hooking up your office with custom music. If you don’t like the song selection of services like Pandora, SiriusXM, or even good old FM radio, the people at Custom Channels will help cater the songs you hear to your office, offering to match the music they provide to the mood and tone of your business. People waiting for a dental appointment might not want to hear anything too jarring, and Custom Channels is a possible way of making sure that the music you have in your waiting room or while on hold is appropriate.
Custom Channels uses an Internet receiver to deliver their music, commercial-free, to your workplace.
But what about if you’re just looking for music for yourself? Maybe you come home from the office and just want to sit down on the couch and forget about enamel, root canals, and cavities.
Songza is an up-and-coming music service that, like Pandora and Sirius, offers playlists. Songza, however, gives you playlist suggestions based on factors like the time of day, if it happens to be a weekend or a weekday, and your mood. For example: you get home from the office at 5 o’clock and want to unwind, you can choose a relaxing mix. If you need to get jazzed up, you can pick a more energetic playlist.
Every music listerner has different needs. What are yours?
There are online music services – from the casual pop lover to the audiobook listener. Which one would you choose?
Some quick Tips:
Mac user or PC user?
Any products by Apple, including the iPod line, are usually solely compatible with the iTunes Music Store, which is available on both Macs and PCs.
Other devices with the “Plays for Sure” logo work well with Windows Media Player – based download services and are PC-only. Check your favorite devices for compatibility before you buy. Like Apple, Sony players will only work with the Sony Connect music service.
iTunes Music Store:
Home of the 99-cent download, the iTunes Music Store (ITMS) features over 1 million songs. Entire albums are available for download but the ITMS only supports iPod devices. The system allows you to burn your tracks to CD for low-tech consumption. Most major labels are represented and ITMS tends to get newer music even before some of the other major players. A partnership with Audible.com also allows you to download audiobooks, allowing you to while away the road miles with a good book.
MusicMatch’s On Demand subscription service makes this system stand out. Instead of purchasing individual songs, you pay $5.95 to listen to a selection of songs for a certain period of time. Once you cancel your subscription, however, the music disappears. MusicMatch also offers 99-cent tracks. A special music suggestion engine makes short work of figuring out what you’d like to listen to next.
eMusic is a pioneering MP3 service that offers a number of downloads for a set price. The most expensive offer, for example, costs $19.99 and entitles you to 90 song downloads per month. The tracks will play on any MP3 player in the world and are completely unprotected by any digital rights management. The music is skewed towards the alternative and unknowns but there are thousands of gems in eMusic’s extensive library, from the Pixies to Bloc Party.
The original music service has gone legit. Individual tracks are 99 cents and Napster To Go offers unlimited downloads to any MP3 player for $14.95. The To Go service, like MusicMatch’s service, expires once your subscription lapses. You can only burn purchased tracks to CDs, but the catalog is wide and Napster features all of the latest from artists in all genres.
Rhapsody offers free downloadable music in trial mode as well as a $9.95 all-you-can eat subscription with 99-cent downloads and Rhapsody To Go which allows you to download content to your MP3 player. Like other Microsoft DRM-based services, music you didn’t pay for is erased when your subscription lapses.
Similar to the iTunes Music Store, Sony’s store will only work with Sony players, which use the proprietary ATRAC format for music files. But one of those players is the very hot Play Station Portable game, video and music device. Sony’s store includes music from all the major labels, not just the Sony catalog. Like other music stores you can also burn downloaded music to CDs.
A latecomer to the party, the MSN Music Store supports Microsoft’s Janus DRM system, which is bundled with most copies of Windows. Tracks are 99 cents and the service is compatible with most non-Apple MP3 players. Major labels are well represented, but the featured music skews towards less alternative acts.