Every other week someone asks me about a site they?ve found where they can download free music. Without exception they?re all illegal. As a rule, if you?re downloading someone else? music or video without paying for it, you?re probably stealing it.
There are however some great places to download free music that is legal and free. Here is a short and not very comprehensive list:
Jamendo has new and non-released music by artsits who choose to distribute their music through Jamendo for you to enjoy. They can also make money by sharing advertising revenue.
As a user you can peruse music at Jamendo, play it and then if you like what you hear you can download it. All free.
Where?s the catch?
There is no catch really, except you wont find top 40 artists here. If you?re a lazy or uninformed music listener then this kind of service isn?t for you. These artists aren?t on your local radio station that only plays ?all the hits you know and love?. You have to do the work and decide for yourself what sounds good and what doesn?t. If forming your own musical tastes sounds impossible them Jamendo is not for you.
The flipside of this is all good news. In the town you live in there are probably dozens of bands who aren?t signed but who are nevertheless excellent. (Okay, depends on what town you?re in.) Your home town represents a small sample size compared with the reach of the internet. Jamendo has a worldwide reach so you can check out who is happening in Madrid, Paris, Rio or Dapto. I guarantee that when you cast a net that wide you will find great music that is free for you to download.
mp3.com.au has been going for so long it?s easy to forget it still exists. Despite the local domain this website has a global reach. This Australian company must have been one of the first to get on board and offer free music and a place for unsigned bands to distribute their music. Great to see it still going strong. Surely it must have suffered for the explosion of peer-to-peer (largely illegal) file sharing but mp3.com.au has seen off the likes of Napster and Limewire and still exists to distribute music freely and legally.
The great thing about mp3.com.au is that it does have a lot of local music. You can download a song or an album by a local musician and then go check them out at a local venue. Getting familiar with their music and discovering just how good local and unsigned artists can be is a great way to break down barriers of perception about how good local music is. Get into your local music and you wont have to wait for international artists to tour and pay $100s for concert tickets in order to see your favourite artists.
This website takes a very different approach to any other music share site on the inter-webs. What you get here are artists signed to major labels for free?but you do have to jump through a few hoops. Let me explain.
Guvera has worked incredibly hard to negotiate deals with the big labels. I know this because an acquaintance of mine, Big Dan, a local Gold Coast boy, is one of the Guvera dudes flying back and forth to New York to negotiate with the music industry heavy-weights. Both the music available and the way you access that music has been refined in the last few years while the Guvera boys have been negotiating deals, but a quick look at what is available shows how successful they?ve been. (I can only imagine that convincing music people to give away music is a hard push. As an industry, they have been very slow to adapt as the crashing wave of the internet that has swept over them.)
If you want to play stuff directly from Guvera then they have an inbuilt player where you can playlist music. If, on the other hand, you want to download stuff then you have to earn the right to that download. This you do by shopping at one of the many shops registered with Guvera. For instance, buy 12 cupcakes from Simply Cupcakes and you get a $10 music voucher for Guvera. Buy a new board at Inverted and get a $20 music voucher. Buy a bike at Paradise Road Cycles and get a $50 voucher. You get the idea. There must be at least 100 shops with deals within a 4km range of my home so chances are you?l find a way to earn your credits. Then go download.
The music range is impressive but not all inclusive. That?s no biggy for me. Even Apple iTunes is far from all inclusive. I?ve given up buying music from iTunes because they rarely have the music I want (and yes I do get a little off the beaten track musically?but not that far) or they have one album from an artist but not the other (which I inevitably want). (I also personally detest being locked into the iTunes program but that?s a different topic.) The thing with Guvera, with it being free, you can forgive it some shortcomings because it is free. If they don?t have the exact album you want, then get another that they do.
Several good choices there gathering free and excellent music. Go get busy.