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Tech Q&A: The cheapest way to build a small home music library

Steve Alexander, Star Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

Q: I'm interested in downloading about 200 songs from the internet, and eventually putting them on a USB drive. What's the cheapest way to do that?

—Fritz Monica, Minneapolis

A: The cheapest method is to purchase the songs rather than subscribe to an online streaming music service, even though the up-front cash outlay will be greater.

Purchasing songs (see tinyurl.com/3bx6nzup) typically costs $1.29 each from the larger providers such as Apple or Amazon (both sell some songs for less.) If you multiply $1.29 by 200 songs, your one-time cost would be $258. A music subscription from Apple or Amazon costs $120 a year — forever.

Once you've purchased songs, adding them to a flash drive is no problem, because the DRM (Digital Rights Management) software that formerly restricted song copying is largely a thing of the past. Most songs are sold today in the universal MP3 format that is compatible with nearly any music-playing device. Apple sells songs in the AAC format, but the iTunes or Music programs can convert the songs to MP3 format (see tinyurl.com/8eh9f7ew and tinyurl.com/uk3mxamz). Note: iTunes songs downloaded prior to 2009 are protected by DRM; use DRM removal software to convert them to MP3s (see tinyurl.com/asbpekcs).

Q: I'm trying to connect a Canon Pixma TS6420 printer to a Google Chromebook. The Chromebook seems to recognize the printer, but nothing happens when I print. What's wrong?

—Libby Nunnelee, St. Francis, Minn.

 

A: Your printer is compatible with your Chromebook. The problem may be that you're trying to print via the "Google Cloud Print" service that was discontinued in January. Cloud Print used your Google account to upload a print job to an online server, which sent it back to your printer.

In the absence of Cloud Print, you can connect the Chromebook to the printer through your home Wi-Fi network (See tinyurl.com/77dyfa2b for basic directions. See tinyurl.com/vbvh6jas for a user-friendly tutorial.)

Q: The Google Play Music service for my Android phone was dropped earlier this year (see tinyurl.com/3kvre9t9). So far, I've been able to keep using the Play Music app by downloading an earlier version of it to my phone. Can I add more songs to my phone by syncing the old app to my laptop? Or do I risk losing the songs I have now?

—Norman Feig, Bradenton, Fla.

A: You probably can't download more music to your phone, because your Google Play Music account information was to have been deleted in February. That data was a key part of a complex download process: Google scanned the songs on your computer, matched them with identical songs in its music library, then allowed its library songs to be streamed or downloaded to your phone. Any songs on your computer that weren't in the Google music library were uploaded to free Google online storage space and shared with your phone.

It's unlikely that this still works, and by trying to download more songs you might lose the ones already on your phone. I suggest you get a different music app (see tinyurl.com/48b27pv5).

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