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Ultimate Digital Music Guide, The: The Best Way to Store, Organize, and Play Digital Music

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Ultimate Digital Music Guide, The: The Best Way to Store, Organize, and Play Digital Music


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2012
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-7897-4844-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-4844-7

Everything You Need to Know about Digital Music!

Your hard-core, up-to-the-minute, how-to guide

Download, rip, store, organize, play, stream–anything, anywhere

Seriously into digital music? Best-selling how-to author, serious audiophile, and eclectic music-lover Michael Miller will help you get all the digital tunes you want, whenever and wherever you want them! Miller guides you through today’s best new options, from iTunes to Spotify…helps you make the most of social music, Internet radio, and cloud music services…even shows how to transform your home into a digital music paradise. This book is packed with practical answers, easy step-by-step instructions, insider tips, great ideas, and new music sources you never knew existed!

For everyone who’s passionate about music!

      •     Discover brand-new digital music services, sites, and devices that fit your lifestyle

      •     Find great new music on iTunes, Amazon, and sites you’ve never heard of

      •     Get the truth about piracy, file sharing, and copyright

      •     Find huge amounts of legally free music

      •     Rip, store, and organize: Build your perfect music library

      •     Determine the best audio file format and compression rate for your collection

      •     Create simply amazing playlists

      •     Stream songs anywhere, with Spotify, Pandora, Internet radio, and the cloud

      •     Get great sound from your iPod or iPhone on your home audio system

      •     Build a whole-house digital audio system, the easy way

      •     Choose your best next media player (Apple or otherwise)

      •     Find and share tunes on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and beyond

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Playing Music on a Portable Music Player or Smartphone

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapter 27 and Index)

Table of Contents

Introduction     1

Part I: Understanding Digital Music

1 The History of Music Distribution—From Piano Rolls to iTunes     11

How Do You Collect Music When There’s No Music to Collect?     12

Between the Sheets    13

Going on Record     14

The Rise of Radio     15

It’s a Long-Playing World     16

The Singles Life     18

The Tale of the Tape     19

Say Hello to My Little Friend, the Compact Disc     21

Going Digital     22

What’s Next     24

2 Exploring the Different Ways to Listen to Music Today     29

Going Old School with Compact Discs     29

Ripping Digital Tracks from CD     31

Downloading Digital Tracks—Legally     32

Downloading Digital Tracks—Not So Legally     34

Getting All You Can Eat from a Subscription Service     35

Listening Anywhere on Any Device from the Cloud     36

Listening to Internet Radio     37

3 How Digital Music Works     39

The Way We Were: Remembering Analog Audio     39

The New Wave: Understanding Digital Audio     41

Making a Digital Recording     41

Storing and Playing Digital Audio     43

Dealing with Digital Compression     43

The Benefits of Digital Music     44

Quality     45

Easier Storage     45

Easier Organization     45

Streaming     46

4 Understanding Digital Audio File Formats     49

Evaluating File Formats     50

Uncompressed Formats     50

Lossy Compressed Formats     51

Lossless Compressed Formats     53

Comparing Formats, in a Nutshell     54

Considering Bitrate     55

Comparing the Major Digital Music Ecosystems     56

The MP3 Ecosystem     56

The Apple Ecosystem     57

The Windows Media Ecosystem     59

Choosing the Right File Format     59

What Works with What     60

Choosing an Ecosystem     61

Choosing a Bitrate     62

5 Understanding Copyright, Piracy, and Other Legal Issues     65

Understanding Copyright and Royalties     66

How Copyright Works     66

Calculating Royalties     66

Royalties on Online Performances     67

The Dark Side of Downloading: Online Piracy     68

The Spread of Piracy     68

The Impact of Illegal Downloading     69

What’s Legal—and What’s Not     70

6 Understanding DRM     75

What DRM Is and What it Does     76

The State of DRM Today     76

Problems with DRM     77

Dealing with DRM     79

Part II: Downloading Music

7 Understanding Music Downloading     83

How Music Downloading Works     84

Requirements for Downloading Music     84

How to Download Music to Your Computer    85

Where to Download From     85

Online Music Stores     85

Subscription Download Services     88

Free Download Sites     89

File-Sharing Sites     89

Choosing the Right File Format     89

Why Downloading Makes Sense     90

8 Downloading Music from the iTunes Store     93

iTunes Over the Years: A Musical History Tour     94

Getting to Know the iTunes Store     95

Installing the iTunes Software     96

iTunes Store Pricing     96

Navigating the iTunes Store     97

Creating an Apple Account     98

Searching the iTunes Store     100

Browsing the iTunes Store     101

Purchasing Items from the iTunes Store     103

Introducing iTunes in the Cloud     104

9 Downloading Music from the Amazon MP3 Store     107

Amazon.com—From Books to Tunes     108

Getting to Know the Amazon MP3 Store     108

Amazon MP3 Store Pricing     109

Creating an Amazon Account     110

Setting Up an Account     110

Enabling 1-Click Ordering     110

Navigating the Amazon MP3 Store     111

Navigation Controls     112

Left Column     113

Center Column     113

Right Column     114

Searching the Amazon MP3 Store     115

Conducting Basic Searches     115

Conducting an Advanced Search     116

Browsing the Amazon MP3 Store     117

Purchasing Items from the Amazon MP3 Store     118

Introducing Amazon Cloud Drive and the Amazon Cloud Player     120

10 Downloading Music from Other Online Music Stores     123

Why Switch from Apple and Amazon?     123

What Can Other Stores Do That Apple and Amazon Can’t?     125

Exploring the Competition     126

Google Play Music     126

Bandcamp     127

CD Baby     129

Classical Archives     130

eMusic     132

Zune Marketplace     134

Discovering High Resolution Music Online     135

B&W Society of Sound     135

HDtracks     136

iTrax     138

Linn Records     139

11 Finding Free Music to Download     141

Downloading from Official Label and Artist Sites     142

Downloading from Free Artist Communities     143

ARTISTdirect     143

BeSonic     143

dmusic     145

MP3.com     145

PureVolume     146

SoundClick     147

Finding Tunes with MP3 Search Sites     148

Downloading Music from MP3 Newsgroups     149

12 Downloading Music from P2P File-Sharing Sites     151

Understanding File Sharing     152

A Short History of File Sharing     152

How P2P File Sharing Works     153

Then There’s BitTorrent…     153

A Few Good Reasons Not to Use File-Sharing Sites     154

It’s Illegal     154

You’re Helping to Starve Musicians to Death     155

Quality Is Questionable     155

It’s Likely Infested with Malware     156

Yes, Virginia, There are Some Benefits to File Sharing     157

It’s Free     157

You Can Choose Your Format     157

You Can Find Stuff You Can’t Get Anywhere Else     158

A Quick Look at the Most Popular File-Sharing Sites     159

Gnutella     159

eDonkey     160

Kad     160

BitTorrent     160

Considering Legal File Sharing Networks     160

Protecting Yourself (and Your Computer) When File Sharing     161

Protecting Against Viruses     161

Protecting Against Spyware     162

Use Anti-Malware Software     162

Just Don’t Do It     162

Part III: Managing Your Music

13 Storing Your Digital Music     167

How Much Storage Space Do You Need?     168

Storing Digital Music on Your Home PC     169

When Local Storage Makes Sense     169

When Local Storage Isn’t Enough     171

Storing Digital Music on a Dedicated PC     171

What Is a Media PC?     171

When Using a Dedicated PC Makes Sense     174

When a Dedicated PC Doesn’t Do the Job     174

Storing Digital Music on a Home Server     175

What Is a Home Server?     175

When Using a Home Server Makes Sense     177

When a Home Server Is Overkill     177

Sharing Your Library Over a Home Network     178

Backing Up Your Digital Library     179

Backing Up Locally     179

Backing Up Over the Network     180

Backing Up Online     180

14 Organizing Your Digital Music Collection     183

Organizing Audio Files on Your Computer     184

Understanding Song Tags     185

What Can Possibly Go Wrong?     189

Editing Tags     190

Editing Tags Directly in a File     190

Editing Tags in iTunes     191

Editing Tags in Windows Media Player     193

Editing Tags with Third-Party Software     194

Five Tricks for Better Organized Music Libraries     195

Delete Duplicate Tracks     195

Combine Multi-Disc Albums into a Single Album     196

Separate Combination Albums into Individual Albums     197

Assign Multiple Genres     197

Add Song Lyrics     198

15 Finding and Downloading Cover Art     201

Understanding How Cover Art Works     202

What Can Go Wrong with Cover Art     203

Where to Find Cover Art     204

How to Change Cover Art     206

Changing Album Art Files Manually in Windows     206

Changing Album Art in iTunes     206

Changing Album Art in Windows Media Player     207

Changing Album Art with a Third-Party Program     207

16 Creating the Perfect Playlist     213

Why Listen to Playlists?     214

Creating a Playlist from Your Digital Music Collection     214

Creating and Sharing Playlists on the Web     216

8tracks      216

FIQL      216

Greatestplaylist     217

Jog.fm     217

Mixtape.me     219

Playlist.com     219

ShareMyPlaylists     219

Tips for Creating the Ultimate Playlist     221

1: Tag Tracks Before You List     221

2: Keep the Beat     221

3: Build a Mood     222

4: Mix It Up     222

5: Program by Sub Genre     222

6: Program by Activity     222

7: Consider the Length     223

8: Put Tracks in Multiple Playlists     223

9: Discover New Music Online     223

10: Share Your Playlist with Friends     223

11: Experience Serendipity     223

12: Don’t Stop Editing     224

13: Get Creative     224

Part IV: Streaming Music

17 Understanding Streaming Music     229

Understanding Streaming Audio     230

How Streaming Audio Works     

Compromises and Requirements     232

Streaming Music Services     232

Internet Radio     233

Cloud-Based Music Services     233

18 Listening to Music with Spotify     237

Getting to Know Spotify     237

Subscribing and Getting Started     238

Getting Around Spotify     239

Importing Local Files into Spotify     240

Importing Files     240

Viewing and Playing Imported Music     241

Listening to Local Files on Your Mobile Device     241

Viewing and Playing Music     241

Playing an Individual Track     242

Playing an Album     243

Playing Music in a Queue     243

Viewing Artist Information     244

Listening to Spotify Radio     245

Creating a New Radio Station     245

Playing a Spotify Radio Station     246

Working with Playlists     247

Creating a New Playlist     247

Adding Tracks to a Playlist     247

Playing a Playlist     247

Listening to Spotify Offline     248

Making a Playlist Available for Offline Listening     248

Listening Offline     249

Sharing Your Music with Spotify Social     249

Adding Facebook Friends     249

Adding Other Spotify Users     250

Sharing Tracks     250

Sharing Albums     251

Sharing Playlists     251

Sharing Artists     251

Sharing Everything You Listen To     251

Collaborating on a Playlist     251

Extending Spotify with Apps     252

Scrobbling to Last.fm     254

Listening on the Go with Spotify Mobile     254

19 Listening to Music with Other Streaming Music Services     257

Grooveshark     257

Last.fm     259

MOG     259

Pandora Radio     260

Raditaz     260

Rara.com     261

Rdio     262

Rhapsody     263

Slacker Radio     264

Turntable.fm     265

Zune Music Pass     266

20 Accessing Your Music in the Cloud     269

How Cloud-Based Music Services Work     270

Pros and Cons of Streaming Music from the Cloud     271

Advantages of Cloud Streaming Services     271

Disadvantages of Cloud Streaming Services     272

Comparing Cloud Music Services     273

Amazon Cloud Player     275

Google Play Music     277

iTunes Match     278

MP3tunes     280

mSpot     281

MyMusicCloud     282

Streaming Music from Your Own PC     283

Audiogalaxy     284

Subsonic     285

21 Listening to Internet Radio     289

Understanding Internet Radio     289

What’s Out There     290

Listening to Web-Only Radio     291

Searching for Internet Radio Stations     294

Listening to Terrestrial and Satellite Radio Online     295

Part V: Playing Your Music—At Home

22 Understanding Home Digital Music Playback     301

Music Is for the Home     302

Different Ways to Listen to Digital Music in Your Home     302

Digital Music via PC     303

Digital Music via Network Music Player     304

Digital Music via iPod     305

Other Items to Consider     306

23 Ripping Your Physical Music Collection     309

Ripping CDs to Digital     310

Understanding the Process     310

Choosing the Best Digital File Format and Bitrate     310

Choosing the Best Ripping Application     311

Ripping a CD with iTunes     313

Ripping a CD with Windows Media Player     314

Ripping Lots of CDs     316

Filling in the Metadata     317

Ripping Vinyl Discs and Analog Taps to Digital     317

Understanding the Process     318

Choosing the Right Equipment     319

Choosing the Right Software     322

Splitting a Side     323

24 Playing Digital Music on Your Computer     327

Choosing and Using a Music Player Application     328

What a Music Player Does     328

Evaluating Music Player Programs     329

Using the iTunes Player     331

Using Windows Media Player     335

Using MediaMonkey     337

Improving Your Computer’s Sound     339

Using an External Digital to Analog Converter     340

Choosing Better Speakers     344

Using Headphones     355

Connecting Your Computer to Your Home Audio System     355

Making the Connection     355

Choosing a Ten Foot Interface     358

Controlling Your System     366

25 Playing Digital Music on a Home Media Player     375

What Exactly Is a Home Media Player?     376

Choosing a Home Media Player     377

Evaluating Home Media Players     380

Sony SMP-N200     380

Apple TV     380

Western Digital WD TV Live     382

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player     383

Microsoft Xbox 360     383

Netgear NTV550 HD Media Player     385

D-Link Boxee Box     385

Logitech Squeezebox Touch     386

Sonos Connect     388

Denon DNP-720AE     389

Pioneer N-30 Audiophile Networked Audio Player     390

Marantz NA7004 Network Audio Player     391

NAD C446 Digital Music Tuner     391

Logitech Transporter SE Network Music Player     392

Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC     393

Connecting via DLNA     394

26 Building a Whole House Digital Audio System     397

How Whole House Audio Works     398

Using Personal Computers     399

Using Networked Media Players     400

Using Media Center Extenders     402

Using Freestanding Media Players     403

Part VI: Playing Your Music—On the Go

27 Playing Music on a Portable Music Player or Smartphone     411

Choosing a Portable Music Player     412

Apple’s iPods     412

Other Portable Music Players     415

Playing Music on a Smartphone     419

Apple’s iPhone     419

Android Phones     421

Windows 7 Phones     423

Playing Music on a Tablet     424

Apple’s iPad     424

Amazon’s Kindle Fire     424

Other Android Tablets     425

Managing Music on Your Portable Device     425

Syncing Your iPod or iPhone     426

Configuring Sync Options     427

Syncing Your Music     428

Improving Your Device’s Sound Quality     428

Upgrading Your Earbuds (or Headphones)     428

Adding an Outboard DAC     432

28 Listening to Streaming Music on a Portable Music Player or Smartphone     437

Evaluating Streaming Audio on Portable Devices     438

Listening to Streaming Music Services on the Go     439

Listening to Internet Radio on the Go     441

Listening to Streaming Music from the Cloud     442

29 Playing Your Portable Music in the Living Room     447

Connecting Your Device to External Speakers     448

Connecting to Powered Speakers     448

Connecting to a Tabletop Speaker System     449

Connecting Your iPod to Your Home Entertainment System     453

Connecting via an Adapter Cable     453

Connecting via an iPod Dock     454

Part VII: Sharing Your Music

30 Burning Your Music to a CD or USB Drive     461

Burning Music CDs     462

A Short History of Home Recording     462

Understanding CD Burning     462

Understanding CD Standards and Formats     463

Choosing CD Burning Software     465

Before You Burn: Preparing Your Hardware     465

Before You Burn: Configuring Your Software     466

Burning an Audio CD     467

Burning an MP3 CD     469

Burning Music Files to a USB Drive     469

31 Sharing Your Music Over a Network or Online     473

Sharing Music Over a Network     473

Sharing Music via Email     474

Sharing Music via a Cyberlocker      475

32 Sharing Your Music—Socially     479

Sharing Music on Facebook     480

Sharing Music from Another Music Service     480

Viewing Your Friends’ Music     481

Sharing Music via Live Chat     483

Sharing Links to MP3 Files     483

Sharing Music on Twitter     484

Sharing Music via Spotify     486

Sharing to Facebook     486

Sharing to Twitter     487

Sharing to Other Spotify Users     488

Sharing via Windows Live Messenger     488

Sharing to Anyone via Email     489

Sharing Music via iTunes Ping     489

Posting to Ping     490

Viewing Your Ping Page     491

Finding Friends to Follow     493

Part VIII: Discovering New Music

33 Discovering New Music with Last.fm and Pandora Radio     497

Discovering New Music with Last.fm     498

Scrobbling from Other Music Services     498

Scrobbling from PC-Based Music Players      499

Investigating Last.fm’s Recommendations     500

Creating Radio Stations     501

Discovering New Music with Pandora Radio     503

Creating a New Radio Station     504

Fine-Tuning Your Radio Stations      505

34 Discovering New Music in the Amazon and iTunes Stores     509

Discovering New Music on Amazon     510

Viewing General Recommendations     510

Viewing Music Recommendations     510

Fine Tuning Amazon’s Recommendations     513

Discovering New Music on Your Own     514

Discovering New Music on iTunes     517

What’s Interesting (and Promoted) in the Store     517

Previewing New Music     520

Getting Genius Recommendations     522

35 Discovering New Music via Social Media     525

Discovering New Music on Facebook     526

Discovering New Music on Twitter     528

Discovering New Music on MySpace     528

Exploring the Social Aspects of Spotify and Other Music Services     530

36 Exploring the Best Music Review Sites and Blogs     535

Exploring Music News and Review Websites     536

Discovering Music Blogs     539

Reading Online Music Magazines     542

Using Music Recommendation Sites     545

Index     549


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