It honestly seems like the Feds could break our door down at any minute and haul us off to jail for downloading free music. Plus, thanks to well-paid lawyers and filthy rich record executives, you also have to worry about getting sued for some pathetic Britney Spears single that you downloaded from Napster back in college! While the iPod and increasing number of companies offering legal music downloads (for a fee, of course) appear to show that consumers still want their MP3s, the truth is that you should be leery of the words free” and MP3″ appearing together on a website.
Well, free downloads brought down Napster and they’re illegal – why even risk it?
Actually, that’s not true. Napster fell from grace and had to start charging for downloads because people were swapping entire CDs on the site. Now in all honesty, the system was abused, which is what caused the lawsuits in the first place. Plus, and I know this is getting technical, Napster allowed swapping” of MP3 files, not downloading.
So file swapping, which costs nothing, and free MP3 music downloads are different…do explain!
With file swapping, two people were exchanging songs that had to first be purchased (at some point) at a store. When the song or CD was purchased, the record company got their cut, the musicians made their money, and a whole lot of record store clerks and warehouse people had jobs, as well. Swapping cut everyone out of that loop so that all lost money – lots of it – except Napster, which made a killing off of advertising. But free MP3 music downloads are offered by artists, and sanctioned by music companies, as a way of attracting new fans. One is stealing, while the other is marketing.
There has to be a catch…nothing is free!
Well, as I said, free MP3 music downloads are about promoting an artist, and getting them some exposure that would not be possible otherwise. But there are some things to watch out for when thinking about any free MP3 music downloads. First, it is common for older songs to be listed as free MP3 music downloads, but the kicker is that you only get a sample of the song instead of what you are really after – you know, like the whole song or something silly like that!