You heard a song on the radio, and now you can't stop singing it. It's been floating through your mind for days now and you know you HAVE to have it. The problem is, you're reluctant to drive to the store or the mall, especially when you just want the one song and aren't sure about the quality or even name of the album. So what do you do? You have the internet, but you're not quite sure how to download music, particularly how to do it legally.
There are many benefits to embracing legality; you can create a library of all your favorite songs, with no filler, and no long albums that you don't wholly enjoy. You also have the piece of mind in knowing that you paid for your music; the RIAA won't be after you, and artists are still getting some hard-earner cash.
The negative aspects of illegal downloading are plenty -- spyware on your computer, people hacking into your computer, and even the RIAA potentially suing you for thousands of dollars. The fee for illegal downloading can be quite hefty indeed.
There are many ways of getting music online. Some of them are illegal and involve downloading programs that put mal-ware and spyware onto your computer. Here's how to go about doing things smoothly and,most importantly, legally.
- Decide which provider has music that appeals to you. There are many providers out there that offer a variety of music. Some places have cheaper music, and some offer some incentives. Some of the best sites are iTunes, Napster, and MusicMatch. Many of these sites conveniently organize their music by genre (Top 40, Rock, Hip-Hop, R&B and all the rest). Also, the sites may offer a list of the most popular downloads in any particular category. Music providers are a great way to find new and sometimes unknown music.
- Sign up and fill in your information. In order to download legally, you need to pay for your music. Most sites charge 99 cents per song, but some have higher rates for the newest hits.
- Download the necessary software to browse and download your files. Some music providers offer downloading right from their website, but some (like iTunes) require you to download some software to your computer in order to browse their online libraries. Most of this software doesn't contain spyware and can aid in organizing your music.
- Save your files to somewhere in your 'My Documents' file, such as 'My Music.' The 'My Music' folder organizes your music by artist, album, or track number. It's pretty convenient and easy to remember.
- Don't share what you download -- it's illegal and can get you into trouble. Sharing music is the number one way the RIAA finds people and files lawsuits against them. The best thing is to avoid the P2P networks and stick with paying for your download. While this method is much more costly than getting the files for free, you don't have to worry about being slapped with a $100,000 lawsuit and tons of legal fees.
- If you only want to preview a song, there's a free way to preview. Contrary to popular belief, you CANNOT have an illegally downloaded song on your computer for any amount of time. A rumor spread that 24 hours or less was the amount of time you could have a music file on your computer to "review" it before purchase. As indicated by the information at this link, it's illegal to store free songs on your computer for any amount of time: RIAA FAQ. Songs that are legally obtained (in other words, purchased) can be kept on your computer for as long as you want, as long as you don't share the files with someone who has not paid for them.
However, internet "streams" are a legal way to listen to a song. Streams are opened up in an online media player such as Windows Media Player or RealPlayer and you can hear the music. This is legal because the actual file is not downloaded to your computer and usually the preview is a small portion of the song.