photo credit: Irish Philadelphia Photo EssaysThe internet, as everyone knows, has revolutionized the music business. The ease of downloading music and file-sharing has caused the industry to adjust in ways few could have imagined not long ago.
At first, the music industry was hit hard by the first file-sharing programs that allowed fans to download music without actually paying for it. The rapid downloading speeds afforded by high-speed internet and satellite broadband have made this process even easier in recent years. Although CD sales fell and some artists initially feared they would no longer be able to support themselves by making music, legal safeguards have since been put into place to prevent illegal music sharing (although of course the practice is still widespread). Despite these initial setbacks, the industry has adapted and has arguably provided the general public with infinitely more opportunities to discover and enjoy music than were available previously.
For example, websites like Pandora allow users to discover new music every day. Listeners can create personalized internet radio stations that play only certain types of songs, according to the user’s specifications. Music fans can create a station based on a song or band that they like, and the station will play songs with similar musical qualities. The website is completely legal and all music artists are paid when a user listens to their music. The service may not work properly on computers with slow internet connections, however, and satellite internet or another type of strong connection is recommended.
Fans who do not want to purchase a song online also have the option of listening to their favorite tunes using services such as YouTube. Searching the name of a popular song on YouTube inevitably produces hundreds of results-from official music videos to the home videos of talented and not-so-talented fans who have posted their own renditions online for all to see.
Of course, now there are also many ways to purchase music online. The most popular program for downloading music is probably iTunes. The iTunes Store allows fans to search and download both individual songs and entire albums, and that is just the beginning. Television shows, movies, podcasts–if you have a fast satellite internet connection, you will have access to any of these literally within seconds. You can view the most popular downloads of the week as well, which might allow you to discover new music; you can preview each song for approximately 30 seconds.
Musicians have also taken advantage of social networking sites such as MySpace to reach a wider audience of potential fans. Most singers and bands have a page on the website; this allows users to listen to songs and find information about upcoming events such as concerts.
The internet has created countless new ways for individuals to find and enjoy music. Although illegal downloading initially worried many in the music industry and continues via a number of websites, on balance the internet appears to have been a positive thing for both musicians and fans. The introduction of high-speed internet and satellite broadband have been especially great for music fans–high downloading speeds mean instant access to their favorite new songs. Many people still listen to the radio on the way to work or buy their parents CDs for the holidays, but these traditional means of discovering music are being quickly replaced by the countless new music options afforded by the internet.
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