If you really like an artist, always consider buying their entire album, rather than purchasing music track by track. It is almost always less expensive to buy an entire album than it would be to purchase 10 individual tracks, so using this method will save you money in the long run.
If you download music from lesser known sites, having antivirus software on your computer is essential. This software can protect you from hackers who want to access your personal information. Make sure it is running anytime you choose to download some tunes, and always make sure to keep it updated too.
If you are looking for free, legal music downloads, consider using a free music archive. A couple popular ones are Free Music Archive and The Internet Archive. These are nonprofit sites that contain all kinds of free, legal music from many genres. These are great for securely and legally experiencing some new artists or getting some rare tracks from some of your favorites.
Keep your eyes out for promotions. Some online music retailers offer free music downloads when you make other purchases. Other online music stores offer discounted titles on a regular, revolving basis. Some popular food and beverage companies also sometimes offer free music download codes with each purchase of their products.
Make sure that the sites that you get your music downloads from are secure and safe. Even sites that are legal paid downloads could allow malicious software to enter your computer. You should avoid music websites that have a ton of pop-up ads. Some may contain viruses, spyware, adware, and the like.
Make certain your anti-virus protection is current before downloading anything. Downloading a virus with a song is too easily done. A good anti-virus program scans for malware prior to saving dj in on the computer. It can also scan it afterwards and clean off any malware that slipped through.
Pay attention to DRM. Owning things online can get a little tricky. You may have to be online to listen to music or use only a specific program. With DRM-protected music, you may end up paying more or losing access to music you've purchased. Make sure you check on whether or not the music or subscription service you're paying for has specific rules regarding DRM.
Keep an eye on bit rates and compression formats. Even a great song isn't enjoyable if the quality is terrible. Different sites and distributors can vary on their sound quality. Shop around. Pay attention to the quality of the files you are downloading, and only buy music that sounds like it should.
If you do want to download music through peer to peer software, be sure to pick a reputable program. That said, you may find that the music you seek isn't available on the network you have chosen. Be very careful of the programs you choose to ensure you don't end up with a virus.
Rather than trying to download music illegally, think about using a legal online radio station. Pandora, Slackr, and Last.fm are all options for those who want to listen to music without illegal downloads. Most of these sites also have apps available if you have a smart phone at your disposal.