Online services put music at your fingertips


iTunes, BitTorrent offer downloaders options

Chances are that you’re listening to music more than you think – in your car, when you’re listening to your MP3 player or while doing homework and playing music on the computer. But as a college student, you just can’t go out and buy a $14 CD that you’ll probably only listen to five out of the 12 songs on it. Besides, most of the time when you hear a really good song on the radio, you want it now. That’s why downloading music is so convenient.

Downloading music first started to become popular during the summer of 1999 with the creation of Napster. It was the first major music sharing service that allowed file sharing between its users. It made a major impact on how people used the Internet. Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, was then later sued by bands like Metallica, Dr. Dre and the Recording Industry Association of America for copyright infringement. Eventually, Napster was shut down, but the brand name was later purchased by Roxio and turned Napster into a pay for music service.

Napster was just the beginning. Soon other software programs became available for users to continue file sharing music.

“I like to use Rhapsody to download music,” Western student Melanie Modlin said.


Rhapsody is an online membership-based music service that gives its users an unlimited access to millions of full-length songs, and you can listen to them whenever you want. They have two different types of membership. One is $9.99 per month, which allows you to listen to unlimited music on your computer. The other is $14.99 per month, and it allows you to listen to all the music you like and to transfer all the music you want to a supported MP3 player.

Kazaa is another software program that is widely used. But unlike Napster, which only downloaded music, this program also can be used to exchange other files types, such as videos, applications and documents – all for free.

Western student Jeff Poet said the he used to use Limewire to download music.

“I liked Limewire, but sometimes it can take a few hours to download just one song,” he said. Limewire has gotten many reports about Malware, which is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s consent. It includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware and other malicious or unwanted software.

Another popular program to use is BitTorrent, which tries to allow its users to upload data at the same time they are downloading. In this manner, network bandwidth is used as efficiently as possible.

“I use it because it’s easy, and you don’t have to download anything extra with it,” Western student Matthew Baylor said.

The new phase of music downloading has been the online music store, whereby songs can be downloaded at a price. In 2003, iTunes saw the popularity of downloads increase. Other online Web sites have included URGE, Napster and MSN’s Music store. And even some musical artists offer songs for download on their own Web sites.

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