MP3 : The Future of the Music Industry


Despite the rumors and hearsay about MP3ís, they are the future of the music industry. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has tried to sue MP3 hardware and software makers, like Diamond Multimedia, yet have been unsuccessful. The Internet is changing the way that musicians can sell their work. In turn, musicians who support MP3ís are not supportive of computer piracy but have found themselves an effective outlet to advertise themselves.
MP3 is a file format that can store audio files on a computer. They are very small in file size and the songs sound nearly perfect. All you need to play these files on your computer is an MP3 player. Anyone with an Internet connection can download an MP3 player for free off the Internet. There are many different types of players that you can download, they all look different but support the same idea. They look and work like a car stereo for your computer. The average download time of an MP3 player on a 56K modem is about one to two hours; the average download time of a song on a 56K modem is about fifteen to thirty minutes. It sounds like a lot of time to waste but it is free music. Many of todayís college campuses offer a free Internet access to their students. Most of those campuses use an Ethernet connection rather than a 56K modem. In laymanís terms it means that students who are on these Ethernet connections are always connected to the Internet and can download files over 100 times faster than a normal 56K modem. Therefore, it only takes about five to ten minutes to download a player and about one to four minutes to download a song. It is not very surprising that a huge percentage of MP3 users are college students, ages 18 to 24.
On campuses that offer Ethernet connections up to 75% of students are music pirates (Greenfield 58). Also, that is probably the reason that the percentage of music buyers who are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old has declined from 32.2% in 1996 to 28% in 1998 (Reece).
The question at hand is " Are MP3ís legal?" The answer is yes and no. Like many technologies, MP3 can be implemented for both legal and illegal uses. It is similar to Zip compression, common to most computer users. Zip files may be used to distribute copyrighted materials illegally or for legitimate purposes. MP3 users work on the honors system. They can go to a site and download a song that is on the top 20 charts. They are given instructions not to distribute the song and to erase it within 24 to 48 hours. Whether or not they wish to do this is their own choice. On the other hand, some bands allow MP3 users to keep and distribute their copyrighted material. This is a fast and effective way to advertise for a band that does not get their songs played on the radio every day.
MP3 files are allowing a whole bunch of new musicians to reach a worldwide audience without dealing with record labels. Today, everybody who has an Internet connection can have a web page. Web pages are easy to make and are a great way to advertise. Bands who have their own web pages can make their own MP3ís and put them on their web page for the public to download for free. Making an MP3 is about as easy as downloading a player to hear a downloaded song. Anybody who has access to a computer with a CD-ROM drive can do this. All you need to do is download a program called Music Match and install it on your computer. Put in the CD that you would like to make an MP3 of and click the record button. Then just sit back and wait while the CD track is encoded in the MP3 format.
This type of technology is great for small bands that need to make a name for themselves. Many people have given MP3 a bad name because it is often associated with music pirates, but it is the best way for the little guys to get their music out without