Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Download Internet Music

So, I recently remembered my own trial-and-error lessons in getting to that sweet, sweet internet music. Services like Rhapsody and Amazon and iTunes make it easy on everyone - because you're paying them to. But when you go out and get it yourself, there's a learning curve. So, here are a few tips - for what it's worth!

1. You've got to put the music somewhere. Somewhere on your drive, all the music's stored together. Probably in some nested folders under a root/library folder (something like "iTunes Music" under /My Music/iTunes/...). Most of the time, the next level will be Artists (or Compilations or Soundtracks or Unknown). Then, usually separate folders for different Albums, and the song files are in those folders.

The point is that you'll sometimes need to create new Artist and/or Album folders so the downloads and resulting files go someplace useful. Sometimes unpacking the download will create a new Album folder, and you'll have an extra level. Clean it up before Importing, or don't worry about it.

2. By far, the easiest are the Single-Song/File downloads (like Thru Black Holes Band or a lot of record labels. Just Right-Click the file link, and choose "Save Target As..." Navigate to the correct location (creating new folders with the Red Firework Folder button), change the filename if you want, and click "Save." Repeat for all the files/songs you're taking...

3. Sometimes a site might offer you the whole thing directly, but other times you'll be sent to a 3rd-party service (MegaUpload, MediaFire, and RapidShare are the big ones). Be wary of anything foreign or not ".com" - and generally consider the source of the link. Once there, Click or enter the generic info ("Free User," text-ID graphics, not your SS# or e-mail password), maybe wait for them to prep - then you'll finally Click to Download. Same as above: pick the location and "Save."

4. Most of the time, you'll be downloading a single folder that's been compressed for faster d/l. If the files are ZIP'ped, you should already have a default program to handle that (PK-Unzip). Just Double-Click the .ZIP file, and a window will pop up with the contents. Then drag/copy them where you need them, or whatever - it's pretty intuitive.

More commonly, you'll be getting a .RAR file - which is just a different format. You'll probably need to install a new program to unpack the files (either PeaZip or WinRAR). If double-clicking the .RAR file doesn't open the new program, you can set it up in Control Panel/Folder Options/File Types tab (for RAR files), or just Right-Click and choose "Open With..." Regardless, you're going to be Extracting the folder or files - probably into the same location where the .RAR file is.

Another thing these programs make easy is very large sets of files. If you download multiple related .RAR files (usually with "part.#" extensions), just opening the first one will recognize the whole series and Extract everything out together. Like freakin' magic!!

5. So, now you've got your all-new .mp3's - just Import the folder or files into your listening library (iTunes, whatever). That should be a control button, or at least in the program's File drop-down options. Or select the folder/files out of the player program, whatever you're normal playing process is. Enjoy!

[I didn't cover either Torrent downloads or FLAC files, but I'll do that sometime pretty soon. Maybe next week...]

The Audiobelisk

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