PC’s are Great for Music

June 18, 2010

PC’s are great for music!

We’ve already covered in a previous article about playing music off of the internet. But what about music that is actually on your computer?

There are several ways music can get onto your computer. If you have CD’s, you can rip your CD’s. Ripping a CD is the process of taking the music from the CD, converting it into a digital format, and storing it on your computer.

Another popular method of getting music onto your computer is to purchase it from an online store like iTunes, Amazon.com, Walmart, Best Buy, and so on. Selection and price vary. What also varies is what format the music will be in once it’s downloaded to your computer and whether or not that music will have any sort of copy protection on it. Most online stores are steering away from copy protection. If you make sure to download your files in mp3 format, there’s no copy protection because mp3 format does not provide copy protection functionality.

The other popular way that music gets on computers is to download them using peer-to-peer software like Utorrent or LimeWire. In most cases, doing this constitutes a copy infringement. We aren’t condemning or condoning this practice. We are simply saying that a lot of people get music on their computer using this method.

Once you have music on your computer, you’ll want to organize it. There are lots of ways to organize your music. You might want to organize them by genre (Rock, Country, Christian, Rap, Hip Hop, etc), artist, or time period (70’s, 80’s, etc.). Or you might want to organize it by mood (love songs, fast songs, mellow songs, party songs, etc.). However you organize them, we recommend that you do organize them. Don’t just throw them all into one folder. Create sub-folders to organize them.

The other thing that is good to do is to fix the tags. Tags are information about the song. The title of the song, the artist, the album, etc. It’s a good idea to have these tags be correct so you know what you are listening to. Editing the tags can be achieved with most any music player, but not easily. If you want to do mass editing of your music tags, then  you will want a tag editor. The best free one I have found is mp3tag. Check it out at www.mp3tag.de/en

Now you have your music on your computer. You’ve organized it and have the tags all correct. Now you’ll want to play your music. You can play it on the computer where the music is stored. You can share it with the other computers on your network so they can play the same music without having to load that music on them. You can copy the music to your phone or mp3 player so you can listen to it on the go. Sharing music and getting music on your mp3 player or phone are big topics that will be covered on their own in future articles.

In terms of what software to use to play the music on your computer,  you have lots of options. Windows comes with Windows Media Player which can play most kinds of music. It’s a pretty good player. Some versions of Windows also come with Windows Media Center (note that is different than Windows Media Player). Windows Media Center not only plays music, it can play video, TV, radio, and more. Between Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center, I would use Windows Media Player if I am just playing music.

The most popular alternatives to Windows Media Player are iTunes and WINAMP. My favorite is WINAMP. There is a paid version, but there is also a free version. For the vast majority of people, the free version of WINAMP has everything you need.

There are lots of things I like about WINAMP. When you click stop to stop a song in the middle, it doesn’t just stop. It quickly fades out. That may sound like a stupid feature, but I don’t like it when music abruptly stops, so it’s a feature I like. I also like the fact that I can crossfade music. As the music plays, instead of one song ending and then another starting, the ending song will fade out as the new song fades in; just like you would hear on a radio station or at a dance. But what I like most about WINAMP is how configurable it is. There are loads of skins available for download. You can specify what information is displayed and how. There are a lot of cool plug-ins  you can download for it, but you really need the paid version for that. If you are interested in WINAMP, check out www.winamp.com.

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