When you’re on a tight budget, you might not have the money for CD’s or paid music downloads. Illegal downloading is rampant but we’re not advocating it. There’s an alternative plan that won’t get you in trouble. Many websites offer 100 percent legal free music downloads; you just have to know where to look.
Just one caveat: you’re unlikely to find the latest big-selling hit songs for free. Most free music is from lesser-known artists. There are occasional exceptions, such as the free albums that Radiohead and Coldplay have made available on their own websites recently. But for the most part, free music is a process of discovery and you’ll find some amazing new sounds to enjoy.
1. eMusic Daily Download
eMusic is a paid download site; however, each day they offer a different song as a free download, so check back every day. Most of the artists are alternative rock.
2. Apple iTunes Free Music
Apple’s iTunes store offers up a couple of free songs and free videos with the selection changing on Tuesday of each week. Artists run in all different genres. Usually there’s one Latin (Spanish language) song and one or two songs that are typically rock, pop, country or hip-hop. You will need to download and install the free iTunes software to visit the iTunes store. You don’t need an iPod, by the way. iTunes simply downloads to your computer and you can do whatever you want with the songs. You also can keep track of the weekly iTunes free songs at this blog: http://www.itsfreedownloads.com/
3. Free Albums Galore
Free Albums Galore is a real treasure – entire free albums and completely legal. The artists tend to be more obscure. Many of the albums are classical, jazz or electronic music, though I did spot some free folk rock from Byrds member Roger McGuinn. I’ve found some really nice stuff here.
4. Amazon Free Downloads
Now this is a true find. Amazon launched its paid mp3 download store a while back. But they also have a huge page of free downloads as well. At last check, they were offering nearly 850 free songs! And you’ll find some well-known names in there too. Recent free songs included artists such as Ziggy Marley, Death Cab for Cutie, Tori Amos. and David Byrne.
5. Last.FM Free Downloads
Last.fm is really known as a streaming site where you just listen rather than download. But they do have a pretty nice free download archive too. Artists include Nine Inch Nails and Moby.
Stereogum is an alternative music blog so you’ll learn some interesting things about the artists you’re downloading. Also, because it’s a blog you won’t find the downloads all neatly collected on one page like some other sites; you’ll have to browse and scroll through older posts, or try searching for artists’ names.
iSOUND.COM was founded for musicians by musicians in Seattle. It’s a place where unsigned artists can upload and share their music. So you won’t find famous bands here. You can preview the music, though, and some of it is pretty good. It’s mostly alternative rock.
8. WFMU Music Blog
WFMU is an independent, non-profit freeform radio station in the New York City area, broadcasting at 90.1 FM, and also online at www.wfmu.org. Their music blog, called “WFMU’s Beware of the Blog” , offers up the oddest and quirkiest collection of downloads you’ll ever find, plus some truly listenable gems. If you like novelty songs, older or obscure stuff you’ll love it here. Recent examples: some excellent oldies by Elmore James, Roy Orbison and Bo Diddley; ten different versions of NPR’s “All Things Considered” music theme; mambo music from the ’50’s; comedy, spoken word, and interviews; and an album called “Bird Party” (yes, actual birds ala Hitchcock).
Dean writes: Here are a couple of my personal favorite music websites.
Imeem.com allows you listen to all the latest current top hits on demand. What I also love about this site is you can create playlists of all your favorite songs and play them from any computer. Again, the selection of songs in Imeem is huge and they have all the top artists and songs. This is great if you use multiple computers because you can access your playlist from any computer.
While Pandora.com doesn’t let you download music it is my favorite online radio website because it uses artificial intelligence to select the songs you like and songs you might like. By listening to Pandora I have discovered many great songs and artists that were recommended by Pandora’s Recommendation Engine. The more you use Pandora the smarter the recommendation engine is. Check it out, I listen to Pandora daily.
Photo Credit via Flickr