Mobile phone companies have been trying to get people to use their phones as MP3 players for a long time, but it's not always obvious how to get music on your phone.
One of the first steps we recommend is to find out if your phone came with a cable that allows it to connect to your computer. Usually this is something with a funky phone connector on one end and a USB plug on the other. Your phone's cable could look very different from the one show here (taken from a Sony Ericsson phone), but the USB plug will be similar.
If you can connect the phone to your computer, there's a decent chance the device will show up as a removable drive or a Windows Mobile Device. On a PC, take a look in the My Computer directory, and hopefully you'll find the device and a folder where you can drag and drop some MP3s.
As an alternative, you can also check to see if your phone shows up as a device in the Windows Media Player software installed on your PC. If so, try dragging music, photos, or videos from the Windows Media Player library (left pane) to the Sync window on the right. Then, hit the Start Sync button in the bottom right corner.
If you're a Mac user, or Windows Media Player isn't your cup of tea, try downloading a free application called DoubleTwist. The DoubleTwist software works with a broad range of mobile phones and can integrate with Apple's iTunes music software.
Can't find that USB cable? Then look to see if your phone supports memory expansion cards such as MicroSD. Most phones are pretty light on built-in memory anyhow, so if your phone has a memory expansion slot, it can be a great way to give your phone extra memory and load your music files all in one shot.
To load music onto the card, you'll want to get your hands on a USB card reader. These things shouldn't cost more than $20, and they'll let you load music onto the card from both Mac and PC. Once the files are on the card, put the card in your phone, boot up the phone's music player, and if the files don't show up right away, look for a menu option where you can load music from the card.
No memory card slot? How about Bluetooth? If both your phone and your computer can connect to each other over Bluetooth, you should be able to send files back and forth if you know what you're doing. Now troubleshooting Bluetooth connections is a subject for a whole other video, but if you're feeling confident, it's one more option you can explore.
Finally, many carriers include an option for purchasing and downloading songs directly on your phone. Every phone puts this option in a different place, but it probably won't be too out of the way since carriers typically get a cut from song sales and want you to use this feature. This definitely isn't a solution for getting your whole music library onto your phone, and you'll likely pay a premium for the convenience--but when all else fails, it's good to know you have the option.
To see a video version of this tutorial, head over to CNET TV.