In the last post I wrote about the history of music on the computer and internet. This post shall be dedicated on the art of obtaining your music collection. You may have to check with your own ethics if you plan to copy copyrighted material into your computer. For me, this is not black and white as the copyright holders will want to let us consumers believe. I have a theory, it is that if I do not particularly like a band/song/album and would like to listen to it every once in a while, like once every 2-3 years, then I am definitely NOT going to go out and pay for the music. It’s like I could wait for it to be played on the radio. These days you can go to libraries and borrow music CD’s. It’s like me going to my local library, borrowing that CD, bringing it home and listening to it. This in no way is going to generate more cash flow for the music copyright holders, and certainly not for the original artist. If you do not already know, artists in many cases do not receive any money in the first couple of years, and some even in the many years to come. All who is benefiting from this affair is the music label. I think Abbey Road Studios or SONY already has enough money. Sorry, I do not help make the multi-billion-dollar corporations even richer.

On the other hand I am all up for supporting talented new artists who set a  reasonable price on their music per track and enable multiple fail-safe methods of payment. One such artist is the talented Per Byhring from Norway. Per is one of those talented young artists who not only has his music up for sale on Amazon, but also has it up for grabs in multiple high-quality formats for free download. This is the sort of artist I would like to support. His whole album cost me 80 SEK, or about $9. Worth every öre. However it was a bit of a struggle to try to buy the album. At first I was given the link to the USA Amazon site, that didn’t work since it’s a crime to be in Sweden and trying to buy music in US, so I tried the UK version of Amazon. Same problem, if you don’t live in the UK, you cannot buy music online. CDbaby had similar problem until in the end, I tried iTunes and curiously, it worked !

The problem is that most websites have still not gotten their heads around the Global Community that internet is. Most of their CEO’s still think as if there’s a border around every country and things are in black and white. Are you in US/UK ? You can buy the music and support your favourite artist. Are you not from those countries ? You shouldn’t listen to that music. Period. It’s not as simple as that though. You have to decide whether music is replaceable product or not. I can understand that certain cars are not going to be available in certain countries, but these products are replaceable. You need a car for its offered safety, price, comfort and so on. If you do not find that specific brand or model, you can settle for something else. But music, can you really say OK I am not able to buy my favourite album, I’ll just go and buy something else and listen to that instead ! What if Per Byhring did not offer his music for free ? Music like A Shell in the Pit is a good example. Only one Canadian dollar to buy in multiple formats, it’s also available in complete and in high quality for listening to. If you want to keep it, then you may have to pay the reasonable price of $1. Payments from Sweden also accepted. Simple, easy and effective.

Music should be easy to download and pay for. At least as easy as finding it on pirate websites because after all, if “I” for one cannot pay for my favourite music, I will get it through other means. Huge FAIL for those companies restricting access and purchase from other countries. What do they think they are doing ? They help the illegal downloading/piracy, indirectly.

I believe all music should be freely accessible, just like the example of A Shell in the Pit. If you want to just listen to it, then here you go, if you want to have it, then pay a little bit of money. Fortunately, services like Grooveshark and Spotify allow users to listen to the song without paying for it. However if you still insist on downloading the music, here is a list of the methods I use to download:

beemp3: Bee Mp3 contains millions of tracks. Downloading is as easy as searching for the music, entering the three-character capcha and clicking save-as on the mp3. It’s effective if you are trying to download that difficult-to-get track, but not ideal for albums.

Mp3Skull: Same as above, great search function and you can even play mp3 as streaming, just give it a try !

MusicJunk: This is an Android app that enables users to search for music and find many alternative versions of the same file, different bitrate, remixes and so on. It’s simple and effective. I actually download most of my single track mp3’s on this little app then share it with my PC through DropBox app on Android.

ThePirateBay: The most popular and oldest torrent sites, here you can search for album names, or browse for music genres.  If you don’t know what torrents are and how you can use them, please refer to this article.

Google: One of the easiest ways to download mp3’s. There are thousands of web pages in Google’s index which contains millions of mp3 tracks. You just have to search for them the right way. Searching for name and .mp3 is the simplest way, but it may land you on many spam websites. You can try refining your search by  typing “index of” + inurl:mp3 + “artist” “album” -txt -pls -m3u in google and replacing artist and album with your desired names. This webpage explains things in more detail and shows you many ways to download music off the good old web.

IRC: The old IRC is showing its age and what once was my main source of finding online friends, chatting, exchanging mp3, ideas, and messaging friends has become almost obsolete with the introduction of web forums, Wiki’s, messengers, bittorrent and file-sharing. Nevertheless, you can still download music via IRC. Just download mIRC and install, make a username and join a random Undernet Server. Then Join #MusicPassion channel and start downloading different lists (@nickname), once you found a song you would like, you can download it by typing !Nickname Musicname.mp3 it’s as easy as that. Although this method has its down sides too, namely, you cannot search for music, you can just download what the person has on their computer. There’s more action happening on Undernet servers than Efnet, which also used to be one of the most popular servers back in 1996-1999

USB Flash Disk: In this method you take what you like from a friend’s computer with a USB drive. Advantages are quick and effective search. If your friend has thousands of tracks and Windows search is too slow, I recommend installing Everything. This gem searches for files in lightning fast speed on any windows. While you’re at it, download and run Space Sniffer which will show you how much space folders and sub folders take, so that you can fit as much as you can on your USB drive.

Streaming music downloads: Streaming music are specifically made so that you cannot download and save them. However if the streaming music is of mp3 format, it is easier to download than other formats. Websites such as Digitally Imported or SomaFM offer a wide selection of different music genres in mp3, windows media and aac format. You can use programs such as Stream Ripper 32 and Station Ripper. These will download the streaming music into different tracks. Although they would work better on certain channels than others.

Obsolete: IRC is almost obsolete, there are several other technologies such as DC++ or BearShare which were once popular and have long lost their momentum. You can of course try these methods but as time goes on, newer methods will inevitably replace the older ones due to better support or more effective search services.

The choice of downloading or paying for music is left up to your own ethics and finances. If you can afford paying for music, then go ahead and pay for it. After all, it is us who should support the artists.