Modern music acquisition has gone beyond buying a record or CD at your local music store. Most music today is downloaded from the internet through music sharing websites.
How Music Sharing Websites Work
Also known as peer-to-peer sharing networks, music sharing websites directly connect people through the internet and allow for file uploading and downloading from a shared library. The program connects all user's libraries to one another, and allows you to search for a song or artist within that library and download it directly from the user who has that song.
BitTorrent software is currently the most popular peer-to-peer program available to upload and download files. Gnutella is another popular file sharing network. Most music sharing websites and software use these two file sharing programs together.
Is Music Sharing Pirating?
Sharing files that are not copyrighted is not illegal. Many bands and musical artists will use file sharing networks to spread their music in hopes of being signed to a record label. In order to avoid sharing illegally, make sure you are purchasing songs that you are keeping on your hard drive, or paying a monthly fee to acquire the music that you do.
Lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) follow peer-to-peer network users who share copyrighted music. Napster, the first and largest peer-to-peer network available, was shut down by the government for illegally sharing copyrighted music, also known as pirating. It is now a legal subscription site.
Most Popular Music Sharing Websites
- Napster - allows you to play entire songs and albums and buy those that you like to download and keep forever. Napster also provides users with commercial-free radio or personalized playlists. You can search and browse through billboard charts from 1955 to present day. Monthly subscribers get a certain number of download credits and access to music streaming from over 8 million songs. You can join Napster for as low as $5 a month.
- Limewire - still a peer-to-peer file sharing program, limewire's downloadable software. The free version of Limewire grants you basic music sharing abilities. Limewire PRO costs $21.95 for 6 months. Extended Limewire PRO costs $34.95 and lasts for 1 year. The PRO versions also provide users with optimized search results, turbo-charged downloads, connections to more sources, and free tech support and software updates.