Listening, buying music online

Remember the days of the gramophones and vinyl discs? Long play and short play records?
At least for those of us who were born by then … that’s how we listened to music. This, in addition to the radio, would provide entertainment.

Now we have many more options in terms of listening to and obtaining music.
Instead of walking into a music store and buying a CD or cassette, one can listen to or purchase music online. We are going to explore these two options further.

Music streaming
What is music streaming? Typically, if you want to listen to music or any other type of audio, you need to download an audio file in a format such as an MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, or Flac, for example.

However, when using a streaming delivery method, there is no  need to first download a complete file.

The basic way for this process is the audio file is delivered in small “packets” in order for the data to be buffered on your computer and virtually be played straight away.

As long as there is a steady stream of these packets delivered to your computer, you will hear the sound without any interruptions.
This method of listening to music is particularly useful for situations that need instantaneous delivery, such as live broadcasts or music services that typically provide short music clips before you buy.

Streaming of music as audio
This is how people are now listening to music on the internet. There are many radio stations and other music institutions that are now offering this.

For Zimbabweans, we have sites such as:
ZimAudio (www.zimaudio.com) which enables you to research, purchase or gain knowledge on Zimbabwean music. ZimAudio’s initiative is to create a new digital legal alternative to the unsatisfactory number of licensing agreements with record companies and non-payment of royalties to Zimbabwean artistes, so that these artistes can be properly paid and make a living from their art form.

ZiFM Stereo (www.zifmstereo.co.zw) — a new local independent radio station launched in August is currently the only local radio station that streams its programmes.

AfroZimRadio (www.afrozimradio.com) – is a Zimbabwean online radio station that features music, news and talk shows. They aim to promote and support new artistes in any genre.

Other sites not restricted to Zimbabwe music that are very good and popular include the following:
Jango (www.jango.com) — Jango is all about making online music easy, fun and social. Just type in an artiste and your first station starts playing right away.

You will get the music you want, along with similar favourites of Jango users who share your taste. Customising your stations further is just as easy. Just add more artistes and rate songs that you want to play more or less.

You can also tune in to other people’s stations and they can tune in to yours! In your player, you will see who is listening to the same music as you, who is listening to your stations and what your friends are playing.

Another “cool” streaming website is Grooveshark (www.grooveshark.com). It differentiates itself from every other by boasting a sleek interface and allowing you to upload your entire library. The result is you will often get a variety of the same song — ideal for those looking for audio from that specific concert.

Grooveshark has both audio and video streaming for music.
Having a decent internet connection with speeds hovering around 1Mbps will ensure you have an excellent experience with streaming music online. Just make sure your browsers and antiviruses are kept up-to-date.

Although some music fans still prefer the physical library of CDs, cassettes and vinyl records, more and more are beginning to enjoy the convenience of streaming for various radio stations and other websites online.

The world of music, whatever genre you prefer, has now been brought to your doorstep for you to enjoy anytime and anywhere as long as you have access to the net.