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Should I throw my CDs away?
Deciding the digital dilemma
By Russell Kibbee
(more articles from this author)
2000-09-24
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The explosion of the online music industry is changing the way we buy, listen and discover music. How does online music work and what benefits does it give you? What do the changes that are occurring mean for your CD collection and future purchases? Finally, how can you be sure that your music is absolutely safe for years to come? The answers to these questions will greatly influence your musical purchasing decisions for years to come.

Step 1: What is downloadable music?
Digital music is stored on large servers around the world. It is a file just like any other, and can be transmitted over the Internet from owner to buyer. The recipient then puts the file on their hard drive and can play it immediately. It can be moved to any number of devices, such as portable mp3 players (a generic term for a compressed music file).

Step 2: How does this affect my choice?
Before the expansion of online music distribution, you had to make a trip to the music store, buy a tape or CD, and take it home to hear the music. If the music you wanted was not available locally, you were forced to find a catalog and order it through the mail. This process could take anywhere from several days to weeks. Now, no matter how obscure your musical tastes, you can find song and be listening within a few minutes.

Step 3: Discovering music now vs. then
During the pre-internet days, people discovered music by listening to the radio, word of mouth, or reading print magazines. Now all one needs to do is go online. There are thousands of Internet radio stations playing music 24 hours a day from new and old bands alike. There are chat rooms where fans can discuss and/or swap music. And there are hundreds of online magazines to keep you informed about the latest news without heading to the newsstand.


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