So, where do you get your music? Angela waxes enthusiastic over download sites–she points out that hundreds of sites make music freely and legally available–and over streaming-radio services.
Steve, whose online-music habit is admittedly a bit less intense, hasn’t been paying attention to the vast amount of music available for download from sites offering it legally, but Angela notes that sites from creativecommons.org to Amazon.com to a vast assortment of music blogs offer tracks for nothing. Steve admits that the Amazon material hadn’t caught his eye, but it jumps right out when Angela shows the way: Music store tab, Free Downloads menu item.
Why is it there? Artists offer tracks on Amazon or other services to sell records or to garner interest in local shows. Angela points out the tremendous amount of material from local and touring bands on Lawrence.com, the site for the daily newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas. What’s missing from this sweet setup? Alas, there’s no centralized directory of where to go for tracks–great for serendipitous surfing, not so good if you’re craving legal, free tunes from a particular artist.
When the disorganization’s got her down (or if she’s just looking for something new), Angela turns to the streaming-radio services. Two of them, Live365.com and Yahoo’s Launchcast Radio, are particularly appealing–Launchcast because it “learns” from her preferences and, over time, delivers both stuff she already likes and stuff she’s likely to appreciate based on what similar subscribers are listening to, and Live365 for the sheer variety of stations available. (A channel devoted to truck-driving tracks? Check. A roots-reggae hookup? Got it. Analog-era recordings? There are probably more stations of that kind on Live365 than existed for much of the analog era.) Best of all, both have free versions–a few ads to tolerate now and then, but nothing severe.
Steve’s unconvinced. But he makes a case for the subscription services, such as RealNetworks’ Rhapsody and Napster (which took its name from that long-ago file-sharing service). With those services, you pay a flat fee each month in exchange for access to tens of thousands of tracks, to be downloaded and played as much as you like–as long as you retain the subscription, and as long as the music’s offered by the particular service you pick.
But there’s been a catch up to now with subscription services like Rhapsody and Napster. The songs you download for free can typically play only on your computer–unless you pay a small ransom so you can burn them to CD. But that’s starting to change.
Steve: DELETE streaming-music services
Angela: SAVE Launchcast and Live365