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An intoduction into MP3s

by Seo Professional

If you haven't heard of the MP3 format - where have you been? This compression algorithm, which can pack CD-quality audio into files of reasonable size while maintaining a high level of quality, has been the darling of Internet audio enthusiasts worldwide.

The MP3 format has generated much controversy in the recording industry because of its near-perfect digital music reproductions. With the right tools, users can create MP3 files from audio CDs on their own computers.

Music pirates have been placing these "ripped" MP3 files on the Internet for download, much to the dismay of artistes and recording companies.

However, the fledgling legal MP3 industry has been making great strides of its own. Numerous independent artistes have mushroomed on the Internet, fully utilizing this medium to distribute their songs. Web sites such as GoodNoise and MP3.com also provide countless numbers of free MP3s for download.

The MP3 format is not limited to just music - virtually any form of audio can be encoded into MP3, such as audio books, news broadcasts, speeches, and recordings.

For the listener, the format means new artists who can never seem to get accepted by record labels but turn out to be big hits with the public, can gain exposure for their music on their own Web sites.

The file can be played by an MP3 player (WinAmp is a popular one on the Internet, available from www.winamp.com) on a computer. http://www.ipodreviewforum.com

It can be transferred to a CD, but CD players can't recognize the MP3 format. (However, there are some CD players now being produced that can decompress MP3 files on the fly and play them. The advantage: A CD, instead of holding 60 minutes of music, can now hold about 150 to 200 songs.)

Small wonder, then, that MP3 is the second-most-frequently used search word on most search engines.

What is MP3?

Developed for movie audio in the early '90s by German researchers, it's a compression technique that shrinks digital audio files to less than a tenth of their original size with no sound degradation.

What does MP3 stand for?

It's short for MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) Audio Level 3, which probably explains why it's shortened to three letters.

How do I use it?

A. Find a Web site with MP3 files, then click on the song you want. It'll take about five minutes to download using a 56K modem, provided you have the required new version of Microsoft Internet Explorer and MP3-playing software. (The latest Windows Media Player will do, and is offered for free at some legal MP3 sites.) Each song requires about 3.5 megabytes of hard-disk space.

MP3.com (http://www.mp3.com/): Features downloadable songs and MP3 players, along with answers to frequently asked MP3 questions. Since it's legal, artists either post here because they're unsigned or because their record labels have agreed to let them. Such corporate tolerance usually means the artist needs exposure, so you probably won't find the most popular songs.

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