Music in the free world

For sheer musical variety, you can't beat the Net. That's why it's your first stop on the MP3 acquisition trail. And you don't need much to snatch songs online. Here are the requirements:

A fast Net connection: you can pull down files with a 56Kbps modem, but you'll need a good book to pass the time. One song can easily take 15 minutes to download. Cable connections, on the other hand, are lightning quick and are perfect for getting MP3s.

Lots and lots of disk space: with a typical MP3 track being 2MB to 5MB, it doesn't take long to fill a multigigabyte drive. In a pinch, a removable drive like a Zip can handle some of the storage load, but you can squeeze only a couple CDs' worth of tracks onto one Zip disk.

RealJukebox is a good spot in which to start your MP3 gathering. Click the Sites menu, and then move down to the Download music item and click any links you see to download the offered tracks. Note: many of the links you see in RealJukebox take you to purchase pages where you can preview tracks (using RealPlayer) before buying. The typical charge for such songs is $US1.

RealJukebox also links directly to several MP3 file collections. Click the Search tab and then Search Internet. The download-and-play process is a snap with RealJukebox. Just click a link, and if the file's format is one recognised by RealJukebox, the file is pulled to your PC, deposited in the default drive or folder, and usually stamped with its artist and title. RealJukebox automatically plays the tune, too.

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