So You Want Free Music?

Hi everybody. I’m still mulling over tonight’s show and my upcoming thoughts/power ranking post(s). While I’m doing that (and waiting for video of the routines I missed), I’m downloading free music. Cause I’m a music junkie. Seriously. Should probably seek professional help for my habit – except I don’t want to be cured.

So You Think You Can Dance has been one of my favorite places to “discover” new music for a while. But, I decided to do a quick post to share some of my favorite places for free music with you. Some of them, you may already be aware of. Some, not. Some are only available for a limited time (I’ll list those first, so get to it!) and some have been around for a while.

I’m only listing sources I use regularly and know are not scams and do not spam you. Though, you will probably get newsletters from many of these sources because you’ll be providing your e-mail address.

Feel free to share any you might now of – as long as they are SAFE and LEGAL free downloads. 🙂

1. Levi’s is doing a cool summer download series called the Pioneer Sessions – Revival Recordings. It features musicians you’ve probably heard of covering some of their favorite music. They are all currently available and some of the musicians are: She & Him, John Legend, Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, The Kills, Nas, The Shins – all yours once you provide your email. Probably only available for a limited time.

2. Daytrotter is the coolest thing ever. They do special sessions with musicians that are available free. They have a great mix of musicians I already know and love and TONS of indie bands I’ve never heard of. Check out the “Top Sessions” on the right hand side of the page – Tori Amos, Kris Kristofferson, The National, Vampire Weekend, Ben Kweller, Beach House, My Brightest Diamond, Jakob Dylan, Bonnie Prince Billy – and that’s not even a drop in the bucket. FYI, Lissie has two sessions.

3. Free Music Monday on Mashable has 10 tunes every Monday – always a mix of genres. Some you can just right-click and save. Others, you have to put your e-mail address into a widget and you’ll get an e-mail with download directions (and sometimes, further e-mails from bands, fyi).

4. Amazon has free mp3 downloads as well. Thousands of them! You’d be surprised which songs you can get for free, especially when a musician/label is promoting something new. The best finds are often the samplers, like the Vanguard Records Sound of Summer sampler I just downloaded – Isobel Campbell is on it and she’s amazing! And the Sub Pop 2010 sampler is also good. You have to install their mp3 downloader, but it’s easy and free. I’ve had really good experiences with Amazon – when a Benji Davis album (free!) didn’t download correctly, they re-sent me the file, no questions asked. Sign up for their newsletter and you’ll get e-mails several times a week, but I always find them helpful.

5. Spinner has a free mp3 every day. Can be hit or miss, but a great way to discover new music. Plus, they have hundreds of songs from previous days that you can still access.

6. Insound specializes in vinyl, but has free mp3 downloads. If you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get a weekly e-mail about a new song. PLUS, at the beginning of the month, they offer a digital sampler, which is like a mix tape in mp3 form. The sampler is always eclectic – there’s usually one or two musicians I know and love and many I don’t. Sometimes, I end up disliking up to a third of the sampler (sometimes too electronic for me), but the diamonds in the rough are always worth the download. I believe the sampler has limited downloads, so go check it out as soon as possible.

7. iTunes offers a free download weekly, as well. You may have to sign up for the newsletter for this one.

8. Both NPR and have e-mail newsletters that are great for discovering new music but neither offers free downloads regularly. You can stream at NPR (including their stories) and can sample at CDBaby.

9. I wrote about a Tweet-for-Download offer that gets you 3 songs free (Rooney, Black Gold and The Young Veins) earlier today. These kind of offers are all over the internet, especially Twitter and Facebook.

I think that pretty much covers my “tricks” for getting free music regularly and legally. Let me know if you know about more! And don’t forget to enjoy!