From the Kenosha News on 11-6-05

     Use legal ways to download music

     There are now several ways to download music that are totally legal, and there are still illegal ways that you should absolutely refrain from. If you only like one or two songs from a CD or the music you want is hard to find locally, then downloading music is a good option. The three download methods I'm most familiar with are iTunes, Walmart.com, and Napster. Each one has specific advantages and disadvantages.

     iTunes is the one that is used most by my family. It will work on a PC or Mac and is especially advantageous for people who use iPods. A single song on iTunes costs 99 cents; whole CD/album costs vary. They also now have videos – including Disney and ABC TV shows – that you can download. Each week, there is one free single that you can download. Get the basics about iTunes at www.apple.com/itunes/overview/.

     To use iTunes, download the free software onto your Mac or PC. It gives you a management console used to purchase and download the items you choose and load them to an iPod or burn them to a CD. You can even load all of your previously purchased CDs into iTunes to transfer them to your iPod. One caveat is that you cannot directly load music from iTunes to a non-iPod MP3 player. iTunes has advantages for families with teens because you can buy and give iTunes gift cards or you can set up an "allowance" of $10 or more per month on your account. They also have parental controls to prevent access to the music store or to explicit content.

     Napster is no longer the illegal free music distributor it used to be. It is now a pay service that works very differently from iTunes or Walmart.com. For a monthly fee of $9.95, you have access to any of their 1,000,000+ songs, but you can only access them for as long as you are member. You are leasing the music; when you end your membership, the songs will no longer be playable. With a "Napster to Go" one year commitment, you can get a free Napster MP3 player and load the songs you want to it. If you want to own the songs, you can purchase them at 99 cent without a membership or 80 cents with a membership. Napster will not work with an iPod. Click on the FAQ link at www.napster.com for more info.

     Walmart.com is most appropriate for users who want to make occasional music downloads. You can purchase single songs at 88 cents each or whole CDs. No software is necessary; use your web browser to go to www.walmart.com and click the Music button. You can easily search by artist or title. Once you get a list of songs that meet your search criteria, you can hear a clip of the song by clicking the Listen button. Files come to you in a .wma format and will not play on a Mac or an iPod, since they require Windows Media Player. They also cannot be burned to a CD. Look on the Walmart web site for info on limitations. Walmart has a better selection of inspirational music than iTunes.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 11-6-05