Since the recording industry (RIAA) has been cracking down on illegally downloaded music by prosecuting the people who download the music (or their parents) and shutting down the sites where music is shared the face of online music sites have changed drastically.
Music sharing sites are either pay per song or album services that are more of an online music store or sites where a plethora of free music is available by unknowns and occasionally wannabes.
When the download crackdown began Napster was targeted as an illegal site and shut down. When the site re-launched it became a music service for the purchase of a wide variety of artists from new or up and coming artists to the mega rock stars.
Sites like iTunes, Rhapsody, and Wal-Mart are two more such services in the market that is seeing an increase in competition. Some of these sites also allow unlimited listening to the available library without downloading for a monthly fee.
Fans who use this service may create a library or transfer the songs to their mp3 player, they cannot put the songs on a CD without actually buying the song or songs. Sites that offer the “to go” services are an excellent source for discovering new music or fans who have very limited space to store CDs and the like are aren’t worried about keeping the music anywhere but in the service library.
Amie Street is one of the newer sites that offers music for sale but unlike iTunes and Napster song prices are on a sliding scale depending on the song’s popularity. On Amie Street songs begin free and increase to 99 cents for the most popular songs. Among the new music service sites is My Space which allows artists to upload songs for sale on the artist’s own site.
Sites like www.mp3.com, www.download.com, and www.ourstage.com are sites where the artists themselves upload the music. By the artist uploading their own material and offering it to fans for free there is issues of legality since the music is being shared by the owner.
Free music sites such as these are great for finding new music by new and unknown artists and even old favourites done by unknowns or “sounds like” artists.
Online music services and free music sharing sites have become an excellent outlet for the independent and small label artist in an age of the mega label only interested in promoting a few of their favourite “darlings” or people with questionable talent.