If you go to college or have an email address with “.edu” at the end, you can listen to a lifetime’s worth of new popular bands or old songwriters (most of the good stuff you find in music stores)- if you’re willing to download another media player and settle for non-ipod compatible protected WMA files that need a renewable license (unless you use a program to strip the DRM and convert to mp3; details below). Some songs from select albums are not available, but there is plenty to hear. So where? Ruckus is the place. You have to register and get validated. Then you install the Ruckus Player and start finding music.

FairUse4WM is your ticket to freedom. It takes your “digital rights management” files and creates new ones that can be used on any computer without authorization. Once everything is DRM-free, you can bring windows media audio files into iTunes, which will automatically convert it to mp3 (unless your iTunes settings are for AAC conversion, but they’ll play on the iPod either way). The legalities of using FairUse4WM with Ruckus content is beyond the scope of this article. I only offer the information of each service for educational purposes. Ruckus is offering a free service that is legal and give their users music files. Erasing the protection on the files is your right (fair use) if they are indeed yours (either by purchase, ripping, or other method) and it follows the end user license and legal terms set by the provider. There is no problem in using either service on their own as long as you are not giving it out to friends, selling it, or breaking the law in other ways.

If you don’t have your own email address from an educational institution, you can obtain one here.

Unfortunately this doesn’t work on Mac OS X, but if you are smart you will email your interest in supporting streaming capabilities for your Apple computer unless you want to shell out money for a Windows OS and Parallels.