The best music related websites for the week of April 9, 1999

By Gary Eng Walk
Updated April 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

What to Surf – Music Websites


Music Best of Breed 1001
Winamp Skins
Getting tired of your Winamp MP3 player’s plain-Jane features? Then it’s time to enter the world of ”skins” — fan-produced makeovers that dress up Winamp’s stock faceplate (buttons, playlist window and all) into something far more en vogue. No matter what your tastes are, this site has the right trappings for you, from faux wood-grain panels to high-tech brushed-steel interfaces. There are even several Heidi Klum choices — for hormonal MP3 fans who want to see a little skin in their skins. In the unlikely event that you hate all 1001 (there are actually more), the site also provides tools for you to become your own skin artisan. A

What is MPEG Layer 3?
Call it ”MP3 For Dummies”: For people who still don’t know MP3 from 8-track, an author who goes by the handle THX Digital Dude has graciously put together this slick, user-friendly tutorial (Macromedia Flash plug-in required) on how it works. There’s even a quiz at the end to make sure you’ve passed the class. A

You may not have heard of ID3v2, but you’ve probably seen its handiwork. Thanks to emerging MP3 standards, properly encoded tunes display song titles and artist names on most MP3 players. This website — homebase for ID3’s creators — contains specs suitable for both novices and techies, plus programs that enable you to label your own MP3 songs. ID3’s creators envision piggybacking even more information, such as song lyrics, in the future. Can MP3 karaoke be far behind? A-

Mostly a shameless plug for owner Diamond Multimedia’s portable MP3 player, RioPort bills itself as a digital music portal for ”legitimate Internet music” a la Not quite: It’s really a bunch of links to other MP3 song vaults. ‘Port does sport a decent weekly MP3 news page, and its work-in-progress status means improvement is on the way. B-

MPEG Audio
Though the MP3 format itself is platform-independent, the programs that make and play them aren’t. That’s why Mac-only MP3 havens like this well-organized site come in handy. MPEG Audio supplies up-to-date links to the latest versions of essential MP3 programs — and it’s all Wintel-free! A-