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Are you confused about what MP3 really is? Don't feel bad; you are not alone! The good news is that it isn't so complicated. Here is all you really need to know:

What MP3 is: MP3 is just a method of compressing audio files so they are small enough to send over the Internet. A four-minute song on a CD consumes about 40MB of space, but an MP3 of the same song could be 4MB or even smaller.

Having all your music in MP3 format makes it easy to organize. You can create "playlists" of your favorite music to suit any mood or occasion. You can also download this music from your computer to a portable player.

How to Play and Create MP3 Files: Your computer can probably play MP3 files already, using either Windows Media Player (for the PC) or QuickTime (on the Mac).

The process of converting CD tracks to MP3 files is called "ripping." The most popular ripping program is MusicMatch Jukebox, which is also great for cataloging your music. Windows Media Player can also rip songs. It uses Microsoft's WMA format instead of MP3, but the result is similar. MusicMatch and Windows Media Player both work with most popular models of portable players

Where to Find Files: If the music you want isn't already in your CD collection, you can find it online. Some very good music is available from free online sites, but you usually have to pay for popular music. Luckily, the online music stores now offer legal music downloads at very reasonable prices.

Sharing copyrighted music is illegal, but file sharing programs continue to be popular. My advise is to stick with the legal music sources.

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