Download MP3s for almost free! That is right. Free! Surprised? Before, I was. I thought that when the good old days when Napster reigned supreme and shut down it was the end of free music. They say piracy is illegal. True. But piracy is kind of a broad subject that every action has to be identified if it is illegal or not.

There are services such as BearShare that offer free music downloads. And this is not piracy, nor illegal. These are legit. To begin with, not everything is for sale. Some are just free, even those music from well known artists. What about the other songs then, you ask? They have this business rule to implement a sort of premium service where you can buy songs at very cheap prices. Think iTunes. Their business model revolves around this one but I do not like iTunes because I am restricted to find any music I like using only that software. And I am no fan of iTunes, using it only to sync apps.

What is a good alternative? I believe there are others that follow this business model yet offers tons of free music downloads to your device or desktop. I can recommend you to check out BearShare because even I have used it to get free downloads. If you have used peer to peer softwares then you won’t be a stranger to this one because it works the same way.

Amongst its attractive features include faster downloads, millions of songs to download and listen to, the ability to buy songs, state of the art search tools and other music related features like playlists, moods, artist biographies and discographies.

When you look at the service closely, you will find out that it is not just a peer to peer network. It is also a community where you will be able to interact with other users. Oh yeah, you also do not have to worry about possible spyware, malware and other viruses because this software is free from any of those.

Some countries do enforce strict rules regarding piracy and illegal downloads. If you are afraid, then play it safe. Otherwise, there really is nothing to worry about using this service. Download to your heart’s content. If songs you find offer premium prices, a few cents won’t hurt.

Using Google can be a bit of a hassle to search for music. A software where you can do a lot of other things other than searching is surely a great compliment to get free music downloads.

mp3While MP3 encoding support in Java Sound is nonexistent, you will need 3rd party libraries for doing so. This post will talk about the necessary requirements to convert, say, a WAV file to MP3 format under a Windows environment as the encoding files involved are DLL files. If you are in some other operating system, check the readme files included in the zip files.

A good library to use is Tritonus, which is an implementation of the Java Sound API. You need these two files: tritonus_mp3.jar and tritonus_share.jar which is a shared classes required by all other Tritonus plug-ins. You can add these two files in the JDK and/or JRE’s library extension folder or you can include them in the classpath of your project.

To make use of Tritonus’ libraries to encode to MP3 format, go to their site’s plugin page and download the file tritonus-mp3enc-2001-04-25.zip under mp3 Encoder. That zip file contains a sample java source code for encoding to MP3 format as well as instructions on where to place the included lametritonus.dll (since it is windows, it should be placed in c:\windows\system32).

The other requirement is equally important, called LAME. It is a high quality MPEG Audio Layer III (MP3) encoder licensed under the LGPL. The DLL for this is responsible for the encodings. Download the LAME package and transfer the DLL file lame_enc.dll to c:\windows\system32.

You can get it in http://www.jthz.com/~lame/.

That is it. You can then check if your conversion from WAV to MP3 works by compiling and running the Mp3Encoder.java source file. Keep in mind that those two DLL files are very important so they must both be present.

audio-wma-128x128WMA (Windows Media Audio) is a Microsoft proprietary format for audio which means, it cannot be played natively within Mac OS. There are such softwares that convert WMA files to MP3. The one that I tried out is EasyWMA. The user interface is pretty simple. Just drag a WMA file on to the EasyWMA user interface and it will start converting it to the desired format. By default, the format is M4A so you may want to change that option in the drop down list to MP3 so that the resulting conversion will be done in MP3 format.

If you do not care about specific quality, dragging the file to the EasyWMA program will convert it right away and without any additional settings and tweaks. Just wait till the conversion is finished and your MP3 file is good to go. EasyWMA does not have a shareware version for people to test it out though. You would have to pay them right away, and they will email you the download link to get the full version of EasyWMA. At least that is what I saw in their website. I did a little Googling and saw some search results offering trial versions though I did not check the links out. You may want to check them first and see if you can get a trial version first before opting to purchase the full version.

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