Remember when buying music required effort? Walking into a real store, flipping through actual albums and, heaven forbid, standing in line?
The versatility of digital media has opened up new ways to buy and consume music. Even though 63 per cent of music sales in Australia last year were still over the counter, the scale is tipping towards downloading and listening directly from the internet, also known as streaming.
This has already happened in the US, the world's largest music market, where digital music sales accounted for 50.3 per cent of all music purchases last year.
The chief executive of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), Dan Rosen, believes the digital format has been a massive new driver of music consumption.
''It's instantaneous, easily accessible and can be stored in large quantities,'' Rosen says. ''If you read a review and want to download that music immediately from your mobile, you can do so at the press of a button.''
Apple's iTunes Store continues to be the dominant player for music downloads worldwide, with more than 16 billion songs downloaded since it was launched. Other download stores in Australia include Telstra's BigPond Music, Microsoft's Zune, Nokia Music and 7digital.
Since none of these stores enforce copy protection on music files, downloads can be played on any device that supports digital (MP3) music, including smartphones, computers, car stereos and games consoles.
But even music downloads are getting a little long in the tooth. Streaming has become an increasingly popular way to listen to music and analyst company Telsyte expects the category to grow four or five times faster than digital downloads during the next three years.
By 2015, Telsyte predicts streaming music services will account for a third of the digital music market in Australia.
Music-streaming subscription services give subscribers unlimited access to millions of tracks for a small monthly fee. The appeal is obvious: why pay for songs and albums individually - or even go to the effort of tracking down pirated music - when streaming offers instant access to a music smorgasbord for less than the cost of an album every month?
The difference with streaming is that you don't own any of the music you listen to. In effect, it turns music into a utility; the downside is that, like electricity or water, access to the music ceases once you stop paying.
Spotify, the world's most popular music-streaming service, launched in Australia last month. It has more than 13 million users worldwide and in Sweden (its home country) it's used by 50 per cent of the population.
Part of Spotify's appeal is at a minimum it offers free access from a computer. But the number of users upgrading to a paid Spotify membership - which enables extra features such as unlimited streaming, ad-free playback and access from mobile devices - is impressive, too.
''A lot of new users join on with the free service, but as they become more engaged, they become more invested in the experience, and are therefore more likely to pay for it,'' says the managing director of Australia and New Zealand for Spotify, Kate Vale.
''We have a conversion rate of around 15 per cent to the premium service.''
The convenience of music download and streaming services makes paying for content more appealing than pirating it. But if you're still averse to buying music, there are free options as well.
Internet radio is a worthwhile alternative to its commercial broadcast cousin due to the variety of stations on offer for both desktop and mobile devices. Free apps such as TuneIn Radio (for most smartphone platforms) provide access to more than 60,000 radio stations.
Podcasts are another option for finding free, genre-specific content. Unlike internet radio stations, these are downloaded as MP3 files. The iTunes Store has a section dedicated to podcasts, making them easy to find and subscribe to. There are podcasts to cover every music genre, plus lectures, courses, TV and radio programs, among others.
Streaming Music or video stored on the internet and sent (but not saved) to your device.
Download purchases Music or video that you download, own and can play on compatible devices.
Podcasts Downloadable audio files covering a particular genre or topic.
MP3 The most popular music file format, MP3s can be played on most consumer electronic devices.
Internet radio Stations that broadcast online to a computer or mobile device rather than over the airwaves.