How MP3 Files Work

Technology has made it easier to download and play your favorite music.

MP3s and Music

Knowing about the MP3 format isn't half as interesting as using it. The MP3 movement -- consisting of the MP3 format and the Web's ability to advertise and distribute MP3 files -- has done several things for music:

  • It has made it easy for anyone to distribute music at nearly no cost (or for free).
  • It has made it easy for anyone to find music and access it instantly.
  • It has taught people a great deal about manipulating sound on a computer.

That third one was accidental but important. A big part of the MP3 movement is the fact that it has brought an incredible array of powerful tools to desktop computers and given people a reason to learn how they work. Because of these tools, it is now extremely easy for you to:

  • Download an MP3 file from a Web site and play it
  • Rip a song from a music CD and play it directly or encode it as an MP3 file
  • Record a song yourself, convert it to an MP3 file and make it available to the world
  • Convert MP3 files into CD files and create your own audio CDs from MP3 files on the Web
  • Rip songs off of various music CDs and recombine them into your own custom CDs
  • Store hundreds of MP3 files on data CDs
  • Load MP3 files into tiny portable players and listen to them wherever you go

Let's look at of the many different things you can do with MP3 files and the software that makes it possible.