Digital Music and Lyrics
Remember the good old days of Napster & Cohorts, when you could illegally download your favorite music all day long, while thumbing your nose at the greedy record companies? Ahhh, the memories...
Digital Music 101
That party ended abruptly a few years ago when RIAA (the recording industry legal machine) sued the pants off Napster, and then started slapping hefty fines on individuals who were putting their CDs online for others to grab. And rightly so, in my opinion. Regardless of how greedy the record companies may be, no matter how arrogant and rich the performers of pop, it all boiled down to socially acceptable stealing.
But since digital music has reinvented itself in the past few years, it's now easy, legal and fairly inexpensive to download individual songs or whole CDs by your favorite artists. Digital music sources and software such as iTunes, the new Napster, Wal-Mart and others make it easy to find and download tunes from your favorite artists or discover new music from independents.
Since Apple's iTunes is the clear leader in the digital music services field, we'll start there. iTunes lets users select from a catalog of over two million songs from five major labels and hundreds of independent labels. That means you can find almost any song from a well-known artist, but it doesn't cover ALL music by a long shot. After you download the free iTunes software (Windows or Mac) you can listen to free 30-second clips or browse through the catalog of music, including pre-release, rare and out-of-print albums. Individual songs can be downloaded for 99 cents (US) and most albums can be purchased for under $10.
I have to say I am really impressed with the iTunes software. It's easy to use, and it has a bunch of "wow" features that make it so easy to manage your collection of music. In addition to downloading songs and making your own CDs, iTunes lets you "rip" individual songs from your existing CDs (with no sound quality loss) and create your own mixes. You can create a party mix and be your own DJ (playing songs stored on your hard drive), select tunes from your favorite artists and burn your own "best of" collections on CD, or load them to a portable music player like the iPod.
Printing jewel case inserts for your albums, with artist and song titles is a snap. Convert music files from one format to another. Keep track of your most frequently played songs, assign ratings to songs, or share a playlist with a friend. And iTunes Radio lets you tune into free online broadcasts, specializing in Oldies, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and other formats.
I want to emphasize that you can download the free iTunes software and use it to manage your music collection WITHOUT using the iTunes service -- no purchase is required from the iTunes music store.
Other Digital Music Outlets
Napster, formerly Public Enemy #1 of the recording industry, has been transformed into a legal music service that gives access to a large library of popular music. A Napster Membership for $9.95 per month gives you unlimited access to over a million songs on your PC. Napster Light is similar to iTunes -- 99 cents per song with no monthly membership fee. Search and browse 30-second music clips and buy your favorite music to burn to CD or transfer to a compatible MP3 player.
Two important Napster caveats: (1) You must maintain a Napster subscription in order to retain access to songs downloaded through a Napster Membership. So if you cancel your Membership, the music you downloaded from Napster goes poof. This does not apply to songs you purchase and download through Napster Light. (2) Napster is for Windows XP/2000 only.
Wal-Mart Music Downloads offers their own sizeable music catalog. All downloads are 88 cents, with no monthly fee. You must live in the USA to purchase, and songs must be played with Windows Media Player.
The venerable MP3.com offers music hunters a rich resource to search for music by a specific artist. Once you find the album or song you want, you can listen to free clips and then click on the Availability button for links to digital music outlets that offer the item for sale. MP3.com also has extensive reviews, discographies, biographies and links to the artist's website, fan sites, media interviews and sheet music.
Revved up like a deuce?
Okay, you got all those favorites from days gone by safely gathered into your music collection. Now what the heck is Springsteen (or Manfred Mann) saying after "Blinded by the light?" The answer is found at Kiss This Guy, a website devoted to misunderstood lyrics.
If you want a searchable database of song lyrics covering many different genres, try one of these sites:
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Dec 2005
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Digital Music and Lyrics (Posted: 6 Dec 2005)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved