Information Technology: MP3 Music Sites - a Hit or Miss?; Francis Fox Answers Some Key Questions:

Article excerpt

Byline: Francis Fox

n NOW that Napster has gone, do you know were I can get MP3s?

ANSWER

Times are tough for online-music junkies. MP3. com has been swallowed up by Vivendi, and Napster's on a respirator.

For many MP3 lovers, the new reality is fee-based music sites, meaning that owning a PC will soon be like owning a jukebox that you still have to feed a 50p. There are services and applications scrambling to fill the void; unfortunately, none of them are as versatile, easy to use, or contain as much music as Napster, but some might suffice during this dry spell.

Friskit.com has received a serious amount of attention, considering its drawbacks. It's not so much file-sharing technology as it is stream-sharing.

A search for an artist, ideally, will turn up a website that contains streaming audio of your request.

Friskit is fast and efficient, but it has its problems.

One is selection. A search for Rolling Stones turned up precisely one hit, and it was an excruciating cover of Honky Tonk Women by some US band.

On the plus side, Friskit lets you customise your settings so it only searches for streams of a predefined quality and bit rate - no more watery 16Kbps streams if you don't want them.

Bearshare.com promises to be easier, more powerful, and more intuitive than other Gnutella knock-offs. It boasts a simple interface combined with a powerful connection and search engine but, again, not much of a selection.

Napigator.com scours Window's ``nap'' clients including Napster and Opennap, offering real-time server statistics and ping times and letting you choose the server you want based on the number of users, files, gigabytes, and network lag. …