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