As for the mp3.com thing, what Forrest says is precisely what happened. It really was too bad as I *still* think the interface that mp3.com had at the time was really user friendly and reaching out to people and making a little money worked very well... it garnered me a lot of fans and I am lucky for being around at the right time... then MySpace was great for awhile and now it's just a mess.
I discovered a lot of great music through mp3.com. Didn't mean to suggest it was a failed business model, probably could have worded that better. Their downfall was not technical but driven purely by the big record companies trying to cling to an outdated business model. I had the opportunity to visit mp3.com here in San Diego(I used to belong to the local Linux user group and we got an invite). The whole place was automated and running on Linux. I actually watched as an order was placed for a custom cd, the cd was burned and then packaged for shipment. The employees loved it there.
The cds had a nice little built-in player interface that popped up when you put them into a computer. If you weren't of a mind to rip cds then, you didn't have to.
I also liked that the artists got more of a cut of the business, and now that it's become easier, if I can buy music directly from an artist's web site, I try to do that. I'd like to think that my money's going into the artist's pocket without the usual middlemen.