Portable players like iPods drive the success of many Internet music-download stores. After all, you can't take it with you unless you've got something to take. Downloading music files to your computer and then transferring them to your iPod, Creative Zen, or any other digital audio player gives you a pocketful of songs on the go; depending on your model, you might have 15,000 tracks on a device the size of an Altoids tin resting comfortably inside your jacket.
The cost of filling up that player (and your computer along with it) averages $1 per song on most download sites, or about $10 to $12 per album. This can add up if you're aiming for a music library of Smithsonian proportions, but it's still slightly cheaper than buying CDs. And you don't wind up with 5,000 flimsy jewel cases that take up precious space and eventually break.
There is such a thing as a free online music store (Section 11.3.5), but the selection may not be as expansive as what you'd find at a more mainstream legal download store. The songs from these sites come in the MP3 format, which isn't copy-protected and can play on just about any portable player or jukebox program. (Music files from pay-to-play music stores are encoded in different for-mats—copy-protected ones. Apple's iTunes Music Store favors something called the AAC format; rival music stores like Napster and Rhapsody supply songs in something called WMA format.)
With a catalog containing 2 million songs, 16,000 ...