The music maze.jpg

The music maze

By SUZY TURNER online@algarveresident.com

Suzy Turner has lived in Portugal for 22 years and works as a freelance writer. As well as putting pen to paper for the Algarve Resident’s online section, she also contributes to the beauty and fashion columns and is also the Features Editor.

DOWNLOADING MUSIC from the internet is one of those shady subjects that many of us are not so sure about.

If it says ‘free music downloads’, is it illegal? If you prefer to pay for music online (just to be on the safe side), what are the best websites to use? I’ll try and guide you through this online maze to help you understand the subject just a little better.

Downloading free music via a file sharing network such as Napster was big news some years ago. There were reportedly around 350 million songs available ‘to share’ via that site alone. However, a central server was needed for these sites to work. Restrictions were eventually put into force and downloading from the likes of Napster, Imesh and Gnutella became illegal.

Hundreds of other file sharing sites have since sprung up (Bittorrent and Pirate Bay, for example), where thousands of people can still download music, albeit not in a legal manner! However these new sites no longer require the use of dedicated servers. Instead they use direct P2P (peer to peer networks), allowing all computers to communicate and share resources as equals. P2P is also a popular term for freely available internet file sharing software systems.

Good girls and boys though, should avoid this system all together, and download music legally. According to a recent report by Entertainment Media Research, fewer people are downloading music illegally than ever before, this perhaps has something to do with the fact that more online stores are raising their game.

Funnily enough, Napster has since become one of the top places to obtain legal downloads. They, and the likes of iTunes, for example, have a catalogue of a million songs in all genres. Nowadays there are more and more labels and artists that have started selling MP3s from their own sites. Some also offer freebies, when they’re launching a new album, for instance, or those keen to garner exposure. If you’re wondering what an MP3 is, it’s a near-CD quality file format for sound files, it’s a digital music format that allows tracks to be significantly reduced without the loss of quality. Great for downloading!

Some other great sites ideal for downloading all the latest music include:-

AudioLunchBox.com – apparently, their subscription programmes allow you to get permanent, legal digital music downloads cheaper than anywhere else on the web.

EMusic – this site has over 3.5 million tracks for download. It also claims to be the world’s largest retailer of independent music and the world’s second-largest digital music retailer overall.

IntoMusic – one of the UK’s best established independent music download sites.

http://www.tescodigital.com – not only do they do groceries, they now offer an online music download store! Whatever next?!

There are countless websites claiming to offer free legal music downloads, including:-

ArtistServer, Epitonic and Music Download.

Check out as many of these (and other) sites as possible – it will undoubtedly take a while to find the ideal one for you, especially considering the multitude that are out there in the World Wide Web! Good luck.

Mog for music lovers

A great website for music lovers is MOG – a personalized gateway for music discovery. There you can find, share, and talk about the music you’re into, whether it’s the Carpenters or Beyonce!  It’s a great site for die-hard music junkies, or just for those looking for inspiration for their latest party playlist. Created by a passionate community of music lovers and powered by cutting edge music discovery technology, MOG makes it easy to find new music, watch music videos, and read news and reviews that match your personal taste in music.

Invest in a band

A great website that helps unsigned musicians is SellaBand. If you are a true music fan and would like to support up and coming bands, you can do so by investing in a SellaBand artist or band and once they have achieved the required amount of investment, investors receive a limited edition copy of the album. On top of that, the artists and their fans share equally in the revenues of the album. Another similar site is SliceThepie.

Online radio

Radio fans should check out the website “Live 365” – the world’s largest Internet radio network, with thousands of stations and more than four million listeners a month. Through easy-to-use tools and services, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can create his or her own internet radio station. As a result, Live365 offers an excellent choice of high-quality radio, with thousands of stations spanning a myriad genres and representing over 150 countries.

All of the websites I have mentioned in this article, can be accessed by clicking on the links to the right of this page.

Suzy Turner can be contacted by emailing online@algarveresident.com