Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

Is it legal to get music for free?

In many cases, it is — look for websites and services boasting the Music Matters badge and you can be sure that the music being given is legally licensed, and that artists and their labels are being properly paid as a result. You can also check the Pro Music website to double check.

What happens if my computer or hard drive breaks, can I get the music again?

This will depend on the terms and conditions of the service you purchase, so make sure you check carefully before buying if this is an important consideration for you. It is becoming increasingly common for legal digital music service providers to replace damaged or lost music, as long as you can demonstrate proof of purchase and you have not made too many copies across multiple devices, which may invalidate your replacement agreement. Again, checking the terms and conditions of your preferred service is essential.

If I sign up to a music service, will I have to commit to a long-term contract?

Not always, although many people prefer this way of paying, as it allows them to plan and budget a fixed amount to spend on music each month. Some services — particularly those offering premium streaming — allow you to pay on a month-by-month basis. But there are also many services that allow you to buy just an individual track on its own from as little as 29p.

Can I play digital music on my stereo, like a CD?

Yes, you can. If you have a CD burner, you can burn (copy) music tracks to a CD and play it that way. Alternatively, you can connect your computer to your stereo and play music directly from the computer through the sound system.

How do I play the music I've bought in the car?

In car stereo systems are increasingly capable of connecting directly to portable media players. In addition, many legal digital music services permit you to burn a CD that you can then play in the car.

Do I need a credit card to use a download music service?

No. Several services now sell pre-loaded credit vouchers through high street stores. Gifting services also allow others to buy and give credits for purchases in which no credit card is needed. Monthly subscription services can be paid by direct debit.

Some websites are offering music downloads very cheaply, are these legal?

There are music sites that sell online music cheaply because they are doing so illegally, without paying artists or record companies. To ensure that the creators of music receive fair payment, look for the Music Matters mark or recognisable high profile brands such as iTunes, Amazon, Tesco or HMV.

Is it legal to rip songs and videos from YouTube?

YouTube is an important promotional channel for artists who use the service to post new songs and videos for fans to enjoy. If an artist or record label has posted the material, they own the copyright to the song or video. In this case, stream-ripping is not allowed and is against the law.

How can I find out about where to get films, TV programmes, and games online?

There is a website called The Content Map which explains where to find music, films, TV programmes, sports content, games and eBooks online.

How do I stop my children downloading music on the family computer using my account?

Most services can be password protected to prevent this happening. If you allow family members to use your music account, ensure that their purchasing is supervised. Remember that education is as important as prevention. Make sure your children understand why it is important to use only legal digital music services, and why music matters!