Download Music and Burn CDs
Remember when you made a mixed audio tape? Copying songs from one cassette to another? Tedious, time-consuming and tinny, right? Prepare to dive into the digital world! Downloading music from an online music service is as effortless as a few clicks of the mouse. Plus, these days you can take those tunes with you by recording or "burning" a compact disc (CD). CD-burning is at least 20 times faster than the old cassette method, and it offers better quality and is much more durable. It's a perfect companion for those upcoming summer road trips.
To download music, you'll first need to sign up for a service like Apple's iTunes, Microsoft's Zune Marketplace, Wal-Mart.com, Napster, Rhapsody or countless others, and install their software (make sure that the service is legitimate). It's a very step-by-step process that you can find via their website.
Most services are paid subscription services—the average song on the Internet costs less than a dollar, but credit cards and gift cards are the primary methods of payment. That fee can vary slightly, and there is different pricing for a complete CD or choosing a subscription service. For example, Apple offers music a la carte or paying per download, while Napster offers a monthly fee that means unlimited downloads. The choice is up to you and will largely depend on what type of digital music player you might have (e.g. an iPod or a Zune). But when it comes to burning a CD, the service choice is less important since they nearly all offer that feature.
Here's the fun part: Once you're all set with a new music download service, find the "Search" tool. It's usually in the upper right- or left-hand corner. Think of a song you recently heard on the radio or one you recall from days gone by. Chances are you'll find it, or at least some other work by the same artist.
Now it's as simple as clicking on the song or CD you want and finding the "Download" or "Buy" button. With a high-speed Internet connection it might only take 30 seconds or less. It can almost be TOO tempting and easy!
So what about transferring those songs onto a CD for the car or the stereo? The main thing you want to do is ensure that your home computer has a CD recorder or burner. It's fairly standard for newer computer models—the only thing that varies is how fast it burns a CD. Don't get caught up in numbers like "12x2x24." When it comes to CD burners, today's standard ones will do the trick.
Next, you'll want to arm yourself with some blank CDs. You can buy them at any electronics or music store, and many drugstores or even department stores carry them. The brand isn't as important as the type. The labels may have a variety of letter and symbols, but it's most important to look for CD-R or CD-RW. CD-R means "recordable" and can only be burned once. CD-RW means "rewritable," which means you can keep recording over whatever is on them (similar to what we used to do with those audio cassettes).
You can burn CDs through Microsoft's Windows Media Player software (or something similar), which comes with Windows XP or Vista for free. Select "Burn" from the menu at the top and choose "Audio" from the drop-down list, and then choose the files you want to add.
Pop in a blank CD, and at the bottom of the list you'll see "Start Burn," which is pretty self-explanatory. Depending on how big the file is, most CDs finish their burn or copying within a few minutes. That's it!
If you rely on Apple's iTunes for your digital music, it's also straightforward. You begin by making a playlist of your favorite downloaded songs, usually about 16 to 18 will fit on one CD, depending on the quality of the file (the higher the quality, the bigger the file). Don't worry—iTunes does do the math for you since it adds up the running time of each song and displays how much space/time you have left on your CD. (Many blank CDs are 74 minutes in length.)
When you click on your playlist, the "Browse" button turns into "Burn Disc." A click of that and iTunes takes care of the rest.
It's a matter of download, burn and go!