What are MP3s?
An MP3 is an electronic audio file. Basically, an MP3 is a way to save and play audio on a computer. It is a file that ends in .mp3. There are other ways to do audio on a computer, like RealAudio (.ra or .rm) and Windows Media (.wma), but MP3s are the most often used. MP3s are the most popular format for audio files.
An MP3 is like a CD and other formats are like cassette tapes or records. They basically do the same thing, play music, but they have different levels of quality, and play in different players. Some players do more than one format, like WMA and MP3 - just like many stereos can play cassettes and CDs. Most players today play MP3s.
How do I listen to MP3s?
The easiest way is to use free media player software like iTunes to play them on your computer. Many people also load them onto portable media players, or MP3 players, like iPods, so they can listen to them without needing a computer. But you don't need an iPod or any other portable device to listen to them if you want to play them on your computer.
Do I need an iPod or other device to play MP3s?
No. Most any computer made in the last 30 years can play MP3s. If you don't think your computer can play them, try downloading VLC. It is free and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Of course, you can listen to an mp3 on almost any electronic device made in the last 10 years as well, cell phones, game consoles, tablets.... and, of course, mp3 players.
My Windows Media Player / iTunes / VLC / etc. doesn't work. Can you help?
Try hitting the F1 button or clicking "Help" in your media player program. There are a very large number of programs that play mp3s, it is impossible to be able to troubleshoot every player. A good starting is make sure the player is the latest version, and then try searching the website of the player you have.
Where can I learn more about MP3s?
Here are a few sites that go more in depth about what an MP3 is, and how it works. They are not maintained or endorsed by Tower Grove Baptist Church, they are just listed here in case you'd like to learn more.