There are so many options for listening and acquiring music online. While the old business model withers and the RIAA sues it own customers, new business models are emerging that allow you to listen in bulk or buy by the song. But you need to take a look at how they work and what you want to do with your music.
If you live on campus or in an apartment, use your iTunes and set your preferences to share on the local network. Then, when you play your music in iTunes, you'll join those around you in sharing your collection. People from outside the local network cannot see your music and no one can take it. If you want to take it to the iPod, the music file needs to reside on your computer. Either buy it for a buck (if you can find it on iTunes) or ask a friend to burn you a CD.
iTunes, with its requirement to store music files on your computer, is designed to work with their ubiquitous iPod. But there are many other online music models to explore. Many stream their music to your computer. If you want a copy, you can buy most songs for less than a buck. With streaming, however, you don't have to store it; you simply access theirs. And more and more, these services have deepening stores of some pretty good music.
I like Rhapsody. They are getting a lot of traction in the music industry, giving iTunes a run for it's money. If portability is paramount, this may not be for you, although you can buy songs at 89 cents each. But at your computer with speakers, this is a simple, music-rich service is hard to beat. It's set up as a monthly subscription of $14.95, but you can try it free for a two week trial period. You don't own the music, you rent it. Wherever you have internet broadband, you have music.
Ruckus is also an option. Like Rhapsody, this is an online service that requires a download of their software onto your computer. Only this service is free. Once there you can access their music and movie collections for streaming. What they offer for free they compensate with ads. Their target market is college and university campuses, so you may appreciate what they pitch you. Still, they have a fair amount of music and also a cache of movies. If watching movies on your computer works for you, you can pay by the download and have the move streamed right to your laptop.
Both Rhapsody and Ruckus allow you to customize your screens to fit your musical tastes.
Good ole CDs are still available, too. Most artists continue create CDs in addition to providing downloadable files. There is also a considerable generation's worth of CDs in people's collections. Grab some of those or buy 'em cheap through eBay, burn 'em on to your computers and take them where you want.
You can also find excellent buys online and in the stores. The Eagles, a popular group from the 80's, has a new CD offered exclusively through Wal-Mart. This two-CD set is less than $12! In the old days, that same CD set might cost upwards of $30.
There are many other music services. Check them out yourselves. What's nice is you don't have to limit yourself. Try several, see what you like best.
These are legitimate music delivery models. Sure, maybe you pay a little, maybe not. But it beats being harassed, leveraged hefty fines and settlement offers from the music industry as they continue to patrol peer-to-peer file sharing users for their copyrighted material.