Q: I am thinking of getting an iPod Shuffle (2nd generation I believe). Is iTunes the ONLY place that we can go to download music? I am trying to find a place where we can download FREE music to our iPod shuffle. Thanks. Hope you can help me out here.
A: The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to obtain your music online—you can import any music CDs you already own into iTunes directly and then transfer these onto your iPod Shuffle. Most new iPod owners generally already have a reasonable library on CD and this is often the first and easiest source of music for your iPod.
Although music purchased from the iTunes Store comes in the AAC format, the iPod supports both this format and the industry-standard MP3 format, so any tracks you can obtain in the MP3 format will play fine on your iPod as they will on any other digital audio player.
For obtaining digital content online, there are a number of options, and these are increasing dramatically with more music stores beginning to sell music in the unprotected MP3 format. Previously, iTunes was one of the very few places that offered iPod-friendly digital downloads as most other music stores were locked into the Windows Media Audio protected formats which were not supported by the iPod or iTunes. Now, however, services like eMusic and Amazon.com offer digital downloads as unprotected MP3 files that will play on almost every digital music player available with no built-in restrictions.
In addition to the major online music stores such as Amazon.com, there are also a number of sites available where limited selections of free, legal music may be obtained. You can get more information in our Guide to Free Music for your iPod or iPhone.