MP3 technology was the
catalyst to one of the biggest revolutions in the media business in nearly 30 years.
When cassette tapes became popular in the
late 1970's and early 1980's, the music industry did the
now-familiar Chicken Little dance about its way of life being
destroyed. The industry quickly co-opted that threat, turning albums
on cassettes into a very lucrative business. In the mid-80's, CDs
promised superior quality at lower prices, but we wound up only
getting the better quality. Consumers never got the promised price
break—album prices continued to climb. Those chickens would come
home to roost soon enough.
It's taken the music industry the better part
of ten years to finally devise some legal alternatives to the P2P
file-sharing networks, and now there are well over a dozen online
music services legally offering a wide range of genres to satisfy
most musical palettes. Aside from one service's downloads being
three cents cheaper than the next, what sets them apart? Which one
gives you most flexibility about how you enjoy your music? And which
one really gives you the most of what you want for your money?
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