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Where Should You Buy Digital Music?

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Have a new MP3 player? It might be an iPod, an iRiver, or one of RIO's snazzy little numbers. Great, but now how do you get music on it? Matthew David spills the beans on where you can go and buy all the music you want online (and it's even legal!)

Over the past year, you and everybody else probably bought an MP3 player. You know...those handy little devices that hold hundreds—nah, thousands—of songs in the palm of your hand. The demand for these little devices, such as Apple's iPod, the competing iRiver, or Dell's nifty little Digital Jukebox, has rocketed through the stratosphere.

But where do you get the thousands of tracks you need to play?

In this article you'll discover how you can find and listen to good music through the many online stores that demand your hard-earned dollars.

Hardware and Software You'll Need

There are a couple of things you need to know before you can buy any music. First, it is a really good idea to have a portable digital music player. There are lots of players on the market, so you should do your research before you part with hundreds of dollars for a credit card-sized device (reading this article is a really good starting point).

Second, you have to install some software on your computer. Yep, you heard me right. Online music stores employ a security rights solution called Digital Rights Management, or DRM. Many stores employ their own version or Microsoft's version of DRM. For everything to work just peachy, you need to have the software from the online store you are buying from installed on your computer.

Because many companies sell records online, there is a lot of software you can install. The four big companies that you are likely to work with are

  • Apple
  • Napster
  • Musicmatch (now owned by Yahoo!)
  • Microsoft

With each new version of software from these four companies, the software gets easier and easier to install.

Once you have the software installed, the first thing you have to do is give up your rights to your credit card. Okay, it's not as bad as I make it sound, but to run the store software for any of these companies you need to furnish a valid credit card (this is on the chance that you buy any music).

Finally, although I said you should have a digital music player, you do not necessarily need one. You can buy music and listen to it on your computer, or burn a CD and listen to the music on a CD player. As long as you do not sell the CD, you aren't breaking any laws.

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