MP3 Websites - Napster - iTunes - MP3 .com

For those who choose to sidestep the legal grey areas of MP3 downloads, there are a number of Internet services which are totally legitimate by the music industry. The most renowned of these are Napster, the iTunes Music Store and MP3 .com.

Napster

The original Napster was the company that made MP3 downloads so popular but it was eventually closed down by court order. Napster mark 2 has since been revived as a commercial service offering music streaming and downloads and is still one of the most popular MP3 download sites.

Streaming is the Internet's answer to radio as it allows you to listen to music as it is being transferred to your computer. Rather than waiting for the entire tune to download, users can hear the song shortly after the transfer starts.

The idea behind Streaming technology is to stop users from capturing the audio and storing it on their computer for later use. Basically, streaming is one time deal - once you have listened to the complete song, it will be gone as it is not stored.

Of course, there are ways around the restriction to capture streams, and this is one reason why Napster and other MP3 sites frequently restrict their free streams to 30 seconds.

However, once you start paying for streams, the time limit is no longer a problem. In exchange for a monthly fee, Napster allows you to listen to an unlimited number of songs which can also be stored on your computer. The only downside is that you need to maintain your Napster membership in order to access them. If a payment is missed, all of the songs on the computer are rendered inoperable.

Napster also allows you to purchase songs which gives you the right to burn them to CD or store them permanently on your computer hard drive.

iTunes Music Store

Out of all portable audio players, the Apple iPod is by far the most popular on the market. The Ipod comes bundled with the iTunes software which can be used to connect to the iTunes Music Store for purchasing songs. Similar to Napster, the iTunes music store allows you to preview music clips prior to buying them. Single songs as well as complete albums are also available for buy.

Songs bought from the iTunes Music Store are protected with Digital Rights Management (DRM) . This restricts the way they can be used. For instance, they can only be burned to CD a certain number of times. The songs can be broadcast on a private network, but the number of computers that can receive the broadcast is restricted to five at any one time.

Like the iPod, the iTunes Music Store is the most popular music service on the Internet. It also carries other digital products such as videos and audio books, and all purchases can be transferred to the owner's iPod .

MP3 .com

MP3 .com can be likened to an affiliate to other online music stores. It presells to users by providing details about artists and songs. It allows users to post their own reviews and 30 second previews are also available. If you like what you hear, you are directed to the relevant online music store to buy the song of choice. MP3 .com associated online stores include Napster, iTunes, Rhapsody and MSN Music.

In order to buy music from any of these stores, you must meet their normal trading terms. For instance, you must have an account set up with iTunes in order to buy music from them through MP3 .com.

MP3 .com also includes a good choice of free music and video streams which are made available on a rotating basis for promotional purposes. These promotions tend to feature lesser known independent artists.

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