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Seeking Out Other Sources for Digital Music

You can purchase downloads or order CDs online all you want, but some other sources don't directly involve Windows XP. You can tie these sources into the computer eventually, but the first step is to move away from the computer and see what else is out there.

  • Concerts: Get out and see a live show! Not only will you likely have a good time, but you can also bring home a CD with you. Sometimes you don't even have to purchase them — up-and-coming bands may pass out samplers to promote their music, and even Prince included a free CD with every ticket on his Musicology tour.
  • Conferences: It's especially popular to give out CDs at conferences related to music for promotional purposes, but other industries (such as travel, wedding arranging, and so on) likely have sampler CDs or other musical items available from those looking for work. Again, it can be a good source of what's coming up musically. Pay attention!
  • DVDs: Some DVDs include a second disc that carries digital sound files of music from the movie. You can listen to these files, and you can use the included Acid Xpress software to remix the songs — talk about great building blocks! Other DVDs are packaged with extras like audio CDs and other musical goodies. Shop around!
  • Video games: If you want to hear some unreleased tracks from certain artists, head to your latest video game console. From Journey to the Wu-Tang Clan, artists have coupled their music with the video games. You may not be able to play these songs on your computer or CD player, but it's worth it to a completist to pick up these games.
  • Giveaways: The marriage of Pepsi and iTunes was just the first of corporations giving away songs to attract attention to their offerings. Sony has also given away music to sell its products. As more online music stores jump into the fray, look for some free offers to expand your collection.
  • Used CD stores: One man's trash is another man's treasure. If you look hard enough, you can find some obscure gems in the cutout bins. Just because the CD didn't sell well doesn't mean it doesn't have good music. And more-popular CDs make their way into used CD stacks for a variety of reasons. Check it out, save a buck, and add to your digital music collection.
  • Promotional offers: You've probably received more than one CD in the mail as an incentive to buy an upcoming release. This may become a more rare occurrence as online distribution of music becomes more popular, but CD sales still ring the cash register. Therefore, companies still want you to buy their product and promote it to get those sales. Look for fan clubs and other artist organizations and sign up. You may get more promotional messages from the artist as a result, but that's the price you pay.
  • Satellite radio: This digital broadcast can be taken from car to home to office, depending on the receiver you buy. Both Sirius and XM Radio offer many channels dedicated to different genres and interests. It's like having Internet radio stations wherever you go. You can hear emerging artists and get more information on music than you normally would with regular radio. It's a premium service, but it's well worth the investment if you want more than normal radio broadcasts can offer.
  • Digital cable: Digital cable provides a lot of options, including high-speed Internet connections and music channels. These channels provide commercial-free music through your TV (and any entertainment center options you have hooked up to that TV). The channels offered depend on your cable provider, but you should be able to find something palatable.
  • "Bonus" tracks: Whether it takes the form of "hidden" tracks on CDs (unlisted tracks placed at the end of recordings) or promotional EPs attached to magazines like Rolling Stone, the incentive is still the same. You get something more with the same purchase price. Especially notable is the CMJ New Music Journal, which includes a full sampler with the purchase of each month's issue. That's a great deal of music for the regular price.
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