I love the RIAA. They make sure the hard working bands that record the music we love can still squeak out a living in the face of an ever-growing number of freeloading downloaders. Without them, how many talentless, lip-synching, manufactured performers would be able to afford homes in Orange County and multiple Bentleys?
In the interest of helping our readers stay out of jail and avoid massive fines, here are a bunch of places you can get tunes without fear of finding a summons in your mailbox. There's plenty of good, free, and legal music on the net for you to download.
- iLike is a social music site which allows you to discover new music with a little help from your friends. Free downloads and the buddy system, what could be better?
- Altsounds has a lot of streaming content, but there are quite a few quality mp3 downloads mixed in, including bands like Anberlin, Panic at the Disco, 10 Years, and Underoath.
- bt.etree.org tracks live recording torrents of "bootleg friendly" bands. You'll be able to find all kinds of FLAC downloads from performers like Ben Harper, Jerry Garcia, Blues Traveler, Trey Anastasio (I smell a trend here, or at least some patchouli), Radiohead, Primus, and even Tenacious D.
- Legaltorrents is still in its early stages, but there are still a number of music and audio books available from their site.
- Stereogum has been offering free, legal mp3s since 2006. They're all still available, along with zip and torrent file archives of previous months. The Gum Mix streams music to you while you browse, and all the tracks it plays can be downloaded.
- SXSW is a good news/bad news situation. The bad news is, they only have one torrent file for download. The good news? It contains over 700 mp3s of bands that performed in 2007 for a whopping total of 3.1 gigs of audio. Change the year in the subdomain to get the 2006 and 2005 downloads.
- Unsigned Band Web is a palce for, well, unsigned bands to share their music and get noticed. Just about every genre you can imagine is offered here, and they maintain charts to show you what's hot. Apparently electronica is hot. Maybe I'll stick to genre browsing. Bottom line: tons of free mp3s to download.
- Soundclick's music page will hook you up with a ton of downloads, including more unsigned acts - like my favorite new addiction: German hip hop. I blame my scarf-wearing co-worker.
- Honc "if you love music. The site isn't much to look at, but there's still more undiscovered goodness to be found here.
- Garage Band is also worth checking out for more diamonds in the rough. Rub it in your friends' faces that you "heard them first."
- Indie Rock Cafe offers more up-ad-coming music, blog style. There's no centralized download page, so you'll find the tracks sprinkled around the blog post.
- DMusic has been offering indie musicians a chance to be heard since 1998. Top 20 charts are maintained for each of the 20+ main genres (which are broken down into several sub-genres as well).
- Fuzz offers - oh crap - a mixtape feature. The interface is cool as hell, and there's a ton of great, free music to discover on the site.
- iCompositions is dedicated to music created with Mac's Garage Band software. You'll need to register in order to download songs.
- The Internet Archive has a massive audio section, including audio books as well as music. Be sure to check out the open source section, with over 150,000 Creative Commons licensed items.
- Jamendo rocks for one big reason: they offer both direct downloads and a torrent tracker. 555 pages multiplied by 20 items per page equals a veritable crapload of music. You'll find lots of international music too, from exotic places like Brazil and er...Canada.
- Peoplesound is similar to Jamendo, but you'll find some major label artist offerings. Registration is required to download, and you'll have to browse the genres/artists to find the mp3 files, but they have plenty up for grabs.
- Epitonic is "your source for cutting edge music." You'll find tracks by artists like The Strokes, Carl Cox, Pavement, Peaches, Guided by Voices, and Yo La Tengo.
- I love me some punk music, and fortunately punk labels love to share their music. Fat Wreck Chords, Hellcat Records, Subpop, and Epitaph all have tons, and usually offer two or three fulls songs from a CD. Oi!
- Stereokiller has even more punk/hardcore/metal goodness for you. According to the guy that runs the site, it's "better than damn MySpace." Well, no argument there.
- Anti's slogan is "real artists creating great recordings on their own terms." Downloads galore from guys like Michael Franti and Spearhead, Greg Graffin, Nick Cave, and Billy Bragg.
- 3hive's bloggers pass on links to some excellent free mp3s on their site. It's got a nice, personal feel to it, though there's not the tidal wave of music you'll find at some other on this list.
- itsfreedownloads is worth a bookmark for iTunes users. It's a site that keeps tabs on the weekly freebies in the iTunes store. You may get sick of looking at all the ads, but the free music will help soften the annoyance.
- mp3.com has a pretty huge collection of free tunes as well, with offerings from almost 1,400 artists. Most can be both streamed and downloaded.
- Purevolume.com is loaded with streaming music, but there are plenty of downloads as well. Click the search link, then search or browse to "discover new music." It's the quickest way to the freebies.
- Music.download.com. What can I say, they've got a ton of MP3s. I'm not much of a CNET fan, but free is free.
- Last.FM has free downloads, too. It's not just for streaming.
- Stage.FM used to be Audiri, and still offers streaming and downloads for independent artists.
- iSound offers another large catalog. Head to the mp3 page for free downloads, as some artists only offer streaming - including Our Lady Peace frontman Rayne Maida, who I was disappointed to see had no downloads.
- we7 is offering all kinds of free tunes - if you're ok with a brief advertisement being appended to the track. They're legal, they're free, and you'll find bands that you'd normally have to pay for to get full mp3s.
- SpiralFrog is doing the ad-supported thing, too (if you can get to it).
- Blentwell is "an ongoing document of the evolution of blended music." Tons and tons of DJ mixes, categorized by genre.
- MTV offers a new group of about a dozen downloads on a somewhat regular basis. A drop in the bucket, but still free.
- Anyone with a toddler or three at home will apprciate Free Children's Music. You'll find tons of great, kid friendly tunes there.
- Classic Cat maintains a massive listing of free, classical mp3s available on the internet. Files aren't hosted there, but it's an easier way to find works by Bach and Beethoven than searching yourself.
Got another legal mp3 site to share? Comment it, so that we can all get in on the free goodness!
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