Hosting MP3 files once required a high-capacity Web server with enough bandwidth to share out multi-megabyte files to several users at once. Today, thanks to the prevalence of cloud-based file sharing applications, you can host music files with nothing but a good Internet connection. While the technology of cloud-based file sharing is fairly standard, the available services use slightly different business models and user interfaces. With a bit of digging you can find the service with the features you need.
How Cloud-Based Music-Sharing Works
To host an MP3 file on a cloud-based service, you upload it to the service, which hosts it for you on one or several servers. Most services require you to set up an account with them to do this. Once the file is up, you can share it, either with a specific group of users you select or with anybody on the Internet. You can then embed a link to the music file on your own website, or sometimes actually embed a streaming player so that users can listen to the file without leaving your site. Because cloud storage is Web-based, you can access the MP3s from any computer and from smart phones and other portable devices.
Google Drive – originally called Google Docs – is a fairly painless way for anybody with a Google account to host MP3 files. You access it by clicking the "Drive" option from the "Other" menu on your Google homepage. There's an easy-to-find upload button on the Google Drive page, and once you've uploaded your file you just right-click on it to change the sharing settings. If you opt to share the file with the general public, Google Drive gives you a link to the file, as well as buttons that automate the process of sharing the file on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The link only lets users download, not stream the file. There's a 5 gigabyte storage limit for the free service, but you can buy up to 16 terabytes for a monthly fee.
Dropbox adds a twist to cloud storage by including an application that mimics a folder on your actual hard drive. You upload MP3s to your Dropbox account by opening your Dropbox folder and dragging files into it. The application takes care of synchronizing all the files in your Dropbox account across all the devices on which you've installed the app. You can share your Dropbox files publicly by creating a "share" file in your Dropbox and storing your hosted files in it, or you can just click on the "Get Link" icon to the right of any of your music files in your Dropbox account. One drawback is that you have to invite people to receive the link, so it's not quite so easy to share the file with the world in general. Dropbox starts you off with a mere 2.5 gigabytes of space, but you can get more by referring friends or paying to upgrade your account.
One of the simpler MP3 sharing services on the web is TuneScoop, which requires no account to either upload or download files. Once you upload an MP3, it's immediately available to the world; users can opt to stream your file or download it. Unlimited storage is free. But TuneScoop pushes pop-up ads to visitors' browsers, and there's very little in the way of online instructions for doing things like embedding the player in other Web pages.
FileDropper is a Web-based service that is very easy to use; you just upload the file and get a link for it, then post or share the link any way you'd like. You can upload files as large as 5 gigabytes, so you can share movie files as well as music. However, FileDropper is not a free service; its "free trial" becomes a $5 per month subscription after seven days.
Things to Look Out For
There are many small, disreputable file-sharing sites on the Web, which do everything from planting spyware on your computer to sharing virus-infested files. Be sure to check out a service before you start uploading. Remember that it is a violation of international copyright laws to share files you don't own the rights to, so it's safest to only host MP3s you've recorded yourself.
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