Legal Music Downloads

Let’s face it, the majority of today’s youth over the age of 12 know how to manipulate a computer better than their parents. They are also much more knowledgeable in technology in general; be it the latest cell phone or the newest mp3 player out in the stores. What is mp3 ? That is a question you will hear most often from parents when talking about the subject. They may have heard of the ever-popular iPod, but do they even know what it looks like ?

It is estimated that by 2010 there will be approximately 300 million mp3 players in circulation. That is astronomical ! Mp3 is basically a musical format which is compressed whilst retaining the quality of the sound. It isn’t the only format in existence, but is the most recognized. You also have WMA (Windows Media Audio – used by Windows Media Player), AAC (encoding technique employed by Apple), ATRAC (used by Sony), and a few others. Some mp3 players will not play WMA files, for example. There are ways of getting around this but it usually involves some illegal manipulation of the music files. WMA files can only be played and copied for a limited number of times.

With internal capacities of up to 60 gigabytes (approximately 30,000 songs), today’s digital music players are in hot demand. Almost every teenager has one. People are willing to spend over $400 to get their hands on the latest gadgets capable of storing an unprecedented number of songs (and other media files such as videos and pictures). How do you transfer this media onto your newly-acquired mp3 player ? Scores of people are still downloading music illegally on the internet, infringing copyright laws. Others download their music legally.

Apple has its popular online music store, iTunes. Sony recently launched Connect, and Real has Rhapsody. All these are legal music downloading services with a low monthly service charge, with a small additional charge for downloading a song. The cost varies between 79¢ and 99¢ per song.

With Rhapsody, for example, one has the possibility of browsing their entire catalog of over 2 million songs and creating a personalized playlist. You can listen to the songs as many times as you wish.

Using the legal music downloading services such as the aforementioned ones is a far better option for you the consumer, and your PC ! The RIAA is actively pursuing file-sharers (illegal music downloads) and serving them with lawsuits. Just like the AIDS virus, the RIAA doesn’t discriminate. They once sued a 12-year old girl for sharing copyrighted music online. Nobody is immune.

Another downside to downloading music illegally is that you are also downloading hundreds of viruses that can cripple your PC. They hide themselves within the music files and then attack your browser or registry.

You are better off paying less than $15 per month and download your music legally, than have to bear the embarrassment of a lawsuit, or having to purchase a new computer because a bunch of viruses have rendered it useless.

Love Your Music

Who thought that the audio-specific format once designed by the Motion Pictures Expert Group would become a generic name for digital audio players? The word these days defines “The Music” and “The Trend” that prevails among all the music loves. It’s a prototype of a small portable gizmo which is probably among the essentials list of the young and old music listeners. Mp3 players’ is one of the electronic commodities that has made a revolutionary entry and has remarkably evolved since then.

Many great new MP3 players were released this year. Sizes shrunk, capacities got bigger, and screens improved. Since there are so many choices among the “anything-but-ipod” MP3 players there never is a “best” or one-size-fits-all. Features, form factors and capacities are too widespread to make a general recommendation for everyone. Although there are few basic criteria that help you while haunting for one, such as the Type(hard drive, flash or CD),Storage, file management, transfer speed/port type, software, file type support and music service compatibility.

Hard drive Mp3 Players provide larger storage compared to flash-based players, making them the perfect choice for people with “never ending list” of music. The only limitation is that these cannot be used while exercising as they a have movable parts that can be damaged by high impact- movement. Apart from this if you are an office user than you should seriously consider hard drive mp3 player since you won’t find enough storage place with flash drive players. If it for rugged users or for your work out session then you should fetch for flash players, they generally cheaper than hard drive players if we look at the overall cost. Popular hard-drive MP3 players include the Apple iPod, Apple iPod Mini , and iRiver while Apple iPod Shuffle, iRiver iFP series, and Sony are among some of the known flash players.

The greater the storage capacity, the more songs you can take with you. The crown here goes to hard drive players with the maximum capacity of 80 GB. On the other hand the latest flash-based players can hold up to 8GB of music (about 2000 MP3 songs ripped at 128 kbps).Along with the capacity it is recommended to look for a well managed file system proving with artist name, song title, and album name information to the player otherwise you would hassle searching a song. Most players have a built-in LCD screen; look for one that shows the information you use most.

Your port type also decided the transfer speed other then the compatibility factor. You should employ the much faster USB 2.0(rather than the old 1.1 interface); but if speed is important, ensure that your player of choice supports the faster standard before you buy. After you plug in the might find yourself stuck if you don’t have a proper software support. There are certain players that need specific software that configures the device with the pc while others go with the standard ones.

All digital audio players can play MP3 files, but your music may not be recorded in that file format. If you use files with extension other than the above then make sure you have support built in. Check the player’s specs, either on the box or on the manufacturer’s Web site, if file format support is important to you. And even if your player doesn’t support your preferred format out of the box, many manufacturers provide downloadable updates to the player’s firmware, some of which may add support for other formats.

Online music stores sever as the legal source where you can download the music from .However, not all players work with all stores. For example, Apple’s ubiquitous IPods line works well only with the iTunes Music Store. Thus If you have a favorite online music source, make sure that it works with your player of choice.

10 Tips on Buying a Guitar in a Music Store

Many guitars these days are purchased online. But even with all the technology, price slashing and convenience of buying online, it’s important to remember the advantages of shopping for a guitar in a good old fashioned music store.

Whether it’s a mom & pop local store – or a big name, big box retailer – the main advantage to buying a guitar in a music store is the ability to actually touch a guitar.

The value of this cannot be overstated. Every guitar has its own unique personality that can only be determined when it’s in your hands. No amount of time behind a computer monitor can show you how a guitar is really going to “feel”.

As a former music store owner, I am obviously a little biased toward shopping locally. So from an insider’s point of view, here are some tips on how to buy a guitar from a real live, bricks and mortar, music store.

1. Research online in advance. Try to get an idea of a good guitar choice based on the style of music you play. Read reviews, visit forums and compare pricing. Maybe even narrow it down to a make and model that might be a good fit for you.

2. Check out all of them. My mid-sized town has a few good stores, but 90 miles up the road there is a metro area with a number of “big box” retailers. Make a point to visit them all.

3. Shop in the “off” hours. Music stores are busiest on the weekends and in the evenings after people get off work and out of school. Scheduling doesn’t always permit this, but you will find that if you can shop a music store during their slow hours, you will get much more personalized attention.

4. Ask to play some guitars. Most stores will let you try out guitars, but some are reluctant to have people “fingering” the merchandise. If you come across some resistance to let you test drive guitars, just move on. That’s, after all, why you came into the store in the first place.

5. Talk to someone. Music store employees are usually comprised of musicians, many times these are gigging musicians that might be able to share a unique, “real life”, perspective on the guitar that interests you. Take advantage of that.

6. Negotiate. The retail music business is still like the car business. People expect a certain amount of haggling. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the business in terms of the owner’s profit margins, but it’s still the nature of the beast.

In addition to haggling over price, you can sometimes get some extra “goodies” thrown in, like guitar strings, straps, picks or free lessons.

7.  Take your trade-in. Some online dealers now accept trades, but it’s a cumbersome process. You can usually shave some money off the price of your new guitar by trading in your old one. You may not get as much for it as you would selling it on eBay – but it sure saves a lot of hassle.

8. Make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy, and any re-stocking fees that may apply.

9. Take competitors ads. In today’s competitive retail environment, most music stores are well aware of what the online dealers are charging for a similar instrument. Come armed with the facts on competitors pricing, and many stores will meet or beat it to earn your business.

10. Pay a little more… What?… Yes, if the price is a little higher than the online competitors, find out what you get for that extra price. It may include a high level of customer service after the sale. The value of having a relationship with a music store, and qualified personnel to work on your guitar down the road cannot be overstated. It may be more than worth paying a few extra bucks on the front end.

The security blanket of anonymity, and the isolation from perceived “sales pressure” when shopping online, keeps many out of physically making the effort to venture across the threshold of a music store when shopping for a new guitar.

But the advantages of being able to actually “lay hands” on guitars, and the ability to talk to knowledgeable personnel, coupled with the customer service after the sale aspect, should not be neglected.

You may very well find that your new dream guitar is in your own back yard!

Getting Started With Digital Music Distribution

Making money from your music by selling CD’s and MP3 downloads has never been easier thanks to the power of the internet. Whether you have pressed a few hundred CD’s or just recorded a live version of your gig, its now possible to have these sold online in independent CD stores, or in the case of MP3’s sold on iTunes, Rhapsody, E-Music, Amazon and many other top music download sites, without any help from a major record company.

There are a number of independent companies that are termed as ‘Aggregators’ for the big online music stores, and what they effectively do is group together all the independent artists music for the major download stores, and deliver each week a total bundle of content to them. They also take care of collecting the money from the stores when your tracks are sold, and pass this money to you.

Some aggregators will take a small percentage of each sale and send you the rest; this is of course to cover their service costs such as staff costs to deliver your music, time etc. Some aggregators however prefer to take a small upfront fee and let you keep all of the money that the store pays the artist. Bear in mind that the online store also takes a cut from the sale of your music, but in reality you can end up earning up to 60 cents on each track sold on a 99 cent download. On top of this downloads do not need the large upfront cost of pressing that selling CD’s requires, so any money earned from the sale of MP3’s ensures you make a profit from your music much quicker.

If you do have CD’s that you have pressed and you want to sell them online, it can be difficult and expensive to set up your own web shop, and as there are businesses with all the technology in place already, why not take advantage of their services and let them do all the selling and money handling, whilst you just collect the cash!

One of the leading online CD retailers is CDBaby.com. They have been selling independent music CD’s online for over 10 years. What independent CD distributors like CDBaby require from you is that you sign up with their service, and send them initially a small amount of CDs (usually around 5) which they will then put on their site for sale. They will also ask you to fill in some general information about the CD and your band so they can put up a promotional page in their shop and feature the information to increase your chance of sales. Fees per CD sold depend on the distributor, but CDBaby currently charge $4 per CD, so if you sell a CD for $9.99 then you get to keep $5.99 per CD which is much more per item than if you were signed to a major record label!

Recently CD baby have introduced a scheme whereby they will press the CD for you in small quantities. All you have to do is supply the audio file, artwork, and release information and their pressing plant will do the rest, including stock your CDBaby store with the CD. One stop CD distribution for your music without leaving your home… brilliant. You can also use the distributor site to make it easy for fans at your gig to buy your CD as they sometimes offer you further promotional tools such as swipe machines etc.

For a small fee you can also purchase a barcode for your CD from the distributor (CDBaby currently charge $20 for this) which means that your sale will count towards a chart position should you make enough sales. It is always worth doing this, just in case you sell a lot of CD’s because the chart position, however low or high will give you more exposure and reasons to shout about your success…

Many of the independent online distributors will also put your music into physical distributor catalogues, so your music will be available to buy from real stores (CD Baby put their CD’s into Chicago based ‘Super D Phoenix One Stop’ which supplies many large physical retailers such as Tower Records, Target and many more). The online distributors will generally have a list of all the stores that your music will be available in worldwide on their site, so you can also contact your fans directly and let them know that they can go into their local record store, ask for your release and the shop can order it for them. If you want to also increase your potential earnings from your music then make sure you always opt in for the maximum amount of services these independent distributors provide (mostly at no cost). This can include things like ringtone sales, online radio play and promotion, synchronisation (your music in TV and Film) and many more.

New distribution models are appearing all the time. For example a new site called Popcuts.com is running a successful site selling independent music to fans by offering the purchaser a small share of future sales on each track sold. This is a great way to offer an incentive to your fans to buy your tracks, as they also get paid every time you sell a track, a real win-win situation for everyone.

Watch out also for promotions that online distributors sometimes run. Recently online distributor AmieStreet.com runs a promotion where new customers got $5 free to spend on music when they signed up to the AmieStreet website for free. If you place your music onto the Amiestreet website, then tell all your fans to go buy your music through the site, your fans get your music at no cost, and you get paid for the tracks by AmieStreet. Money for nothing and your tracks for free!

There are an abundance of distributors available to independent artists, bands and labels now, from Germany based FEIYR.com, who can get your music into hundreds of online stores across Europe (and beyond), US based Songcast Music, Tunecore and many more. Read the terms and conditions of each site carefully before signing up, and check the fee list thoroughly too. Some sites will charge you for taking the track from online stores if you decide to change distributor in the first year. Lastly make sure you understand which stores your digital distributor sends your music too. The more stores you have your music in, the greater chance of you selling your tracks…

Online Book Stores – Bringing Books Closer To Us

The Internet is maturing with every passing day. Its ambiance is giving us more free space to feel this world closely. It has ensnared the attention of the human mind. Whether you are a music lover, a sports buff or a political admirer, the Internet has data for everyone. In addition, if you are a book lover, then the Internet is the right place for you; it allows you to read and buy your favourite books online, whenever you want. The key to the popularity of Online Book Stores is that one can buy and compare books, read and post reviews, and one can even read the complete books online. The Online Book Stores are breaking the barricades of languages, civilisations, and nations, by conveying the enlightening thoughts.

Online Book Stores have given a very strong base to the writers and readers worldwide. When a writer writes a book, the publisher publishes it and makes it available online for the readers. The reader can easily access or buy those books online, without leaving the comfort of their home. Earlier, when there were no online bookstores, the readers had to face the tiresome task of going to individual bookshops to buy there favourite books, but this process was so enervating, there was also the uncertainty that whether we will get our favourite book there or not. However, the online bookstores have made our life easier and cosier. With an increasing number of online bookstores, one can never be in the state of uncertainty of getting his or her most wanted book. The online bookstores are also very resourceful for the students of all grades.

There are various online bookstores available on the web; these websites offer very huge database of books from different categories like Business, Finance, Law, Computer, Internet, Latest Technologies, Fiction, Non-fiction, Self Management, Travel & Holidays, History, Humour, Horror, Drama, Poetry, Sports, Spirituality, Food, Good-Home, Health and many more. These websites also provide various discounts and special offers that a physical bookstore can never offer. If books are our best friends, then the online bookstores are the medium that bring our best friends closer to us.