Are you an educated consumer of downloaded music or are you floundering in the overloaded waters of download sites and programs?
Everyone has heard about the legal rulings on downloading music and you may therefore be afraid to trust any site that tells you their music downloads are free and legal.
The fact is that the face of music downloading has changed dramatically since the judicial system has gotten involved in protecting the rights of artists, composers and distributors who were previously receiving NO royalties for the music that was shared by thousands of teenagers and adults.
But, if you know what you are doing, you can find music to download for free or for a very small fee.
If you are an audiophile and you really love to download music, you’ll want to join a program that allows you to download a large number of files, or even an unlimited number of files, so you can keep up with the latest musical trends.
It is best to avoid sites that do not GUARANTEE that their files are safe, or you could end up with more than music on your machine.
Some of these fly-by-night sites allow anyone to upload songs and you might get a virus or other bug on your computer that might corrupt your machine.
If you are downloading songs to an iPod or MP3 player, be sure that the site you choose supports your format and device.
You may have to download a small software program to support the transfer of music from the music download site you select.
Try to stick with sites that have been reviewed and approved by web music critics or publications. Sites like My Music Inc., Free Music Downloads, MP3 Download HQ, and All Cool Music have been extensively reviewed by C\NET, CNN, Tucows, OnlineReviewBoard, and Web Reviews for features like customer service, technical support, virus free guarantees, frequency of upgrades and pricing, and speed of download time.
Sites like RhapsodyMusicService and iMusicShare offer per song or per month rates for downloads.
Even if the old standbys like Napster and Kazaa, who were responsible for the initial flap over the violation of artistic rights and royalties, are now legitimate pay as you go sites that offer a full library of downloads for a per song or subscription fee.
And companies like AOL, Apple (through its iTunes and iPod business) and Real.com (with their Real Rhapsody program) are now offering free or subscription downloads with millions of songs in each catalogue.
Big retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart have joined the fray with their own version of downloadable music for ‘pay and play’.
Sites like GoingWare and SoundClick offer downloads of cutting edge bands and musicians who have yet to be signed to a label, so you’ll find plenty of the newest music there.
Try to avoid P2P (Peer to Peer) programs if you can, because they are designed to allow users to ‘share’ songs from one stored portfolio of music to another and if you are downloading a song from another person’s library, your computer is open to security breach and virus threats.
In general, you should watch out for: Ease of Use, Speed of Download and song SELECTION, SELECTION, SELECTION. You should also be careful to check out the search capacity and techniques on each of the sites you are considering.
Some sites make it nearly impossible to find the song you want, or they have 20 versions of the same song listed and you have to plow through all of them to find the one you want.
Even then, when you download it (and possibly PAY for that download) you may end up with the dance mix of a song that was not properly labeled on the site.
If you know other people who are downloading music and you are not sure of a site and whether you should sign up for their program, talk to some friends and find out what program they are using and which ones to avoid!