A. Music Blogs
Music blogs, are by far, the best source of legal and free music. Not only do you get to read up on the artist's information, but you also get a taste of the artist's work through a couple of free MP3s. There are tons of these blogs out there, and a few tools to search a good portion of them for MP3s as well. Here are some of my favorites, as well as a few extras.
Elbows is a music blog lover's dream. Not only does it aggregate posts from all sorts of music blogs, it also aggregates MP3s and free music from various music blogs, allowing the user to do a quick search for a certain song or artist. Elbows is one of the best ways to find new artists, music, and even download a song or two for free while there.
Similar to Elbows, The Hype Machine aggregates data, music, and posts from various music-centered blogs, making all of the information accessible on a single site. However, unlike Elbows, The Hype Machine is extremely focused on MP3s found on these blogs. The site shows the most popular songs/MP3s for a certain time period, as well as shows where to buy this music. Users can discover new music and new blogs through The Hype Machine. Even I found a few new artists I like, and got to listen to some of their tracks, legally.
Need help finding some music blogs? The MonkeyFilter wiki has by far the biggest list of MP3 blogs on the net, organized by genre. I subscribe to most of these now, and expand my list of favorite artists daily. If you're ever in need of some free and legal music, but don't know where to go, this list is a big helper.
B. Commercial and Free
Usually, when talking about free music, people tend to talk about â€œno nameâ€ artists and unsigned bands. For some people, usually who love discovering new music, this is great. However, many prefer free versions of popular songs they already know.
In my opinion, SpiralFrog is the most innovative way free music has been distributed yet. On SpiralFrog, you'll find all of your favorite songs and albums from your favorite (and popular) artists, for free. And it's all downloadable. The catch? You have to listen to/watch an advertisement before downloading your song. But hey, for a song that's normally purchasable on itunes for $.99, it's definitely worth it. SpiralFrog is one of the best free music sites I've seen to date. (Unless you're accessing it outside of the US; then it doesn't work. Ed.)
Ruckus takes a step up from SpiralFrog by skipping the entire advertisement process altogether. Completely free, full albums, and no advertisements. The catch? You've got to be a college student with a .edu email. Ruckus was set up to stop music piracy at colleges, and I'm thinking it's working.
We7 is a bit similar to SpiralFrog, but with a few twists. We7 tends to focus on indie music more than artists signed to the Big Five. Somewhat like SpiralFrog, We7 puts advertisements into the beginning of their songs. However, users may download 20 songs per month without the advertising. Additional advertisement-free tracks are 20p a piece, which is a really good deal.
Although iLike doesn't offer as many free MP3s and music as other competing sites may, iLike allows the user to stream tons and tons of music, most of it from popular artist. Of course, there's the occasional free MP3, but don't expect it too often. iLike is all about sharing music and playlists with friends, and some free music too.
C. Non Blog Non Commercial â€œNo Nameâ€ Music
If you're into underground, alternative, indie, post rock, and similar genres, but want to hear something a bit more homebrew, then these sites are perfect for you. The following sites are powered by user submitted content, and you probably won't see any familiar names around here.
Driven by user submitted and created music, ArtistServer is one of the best places to go for up and coming musicians. Artists write their news (usually music related) on hosted blogs, and top songs/artists make the front page's music player. If you're looking for homebrew music, you'll find it here.
Similar to ArtistServer (but with a bit more professionalism kicked in), Jamendo is indie music gone social. Users search for music on Jamendo, share it with friends, and download what they like. Simply, JAmendo is an improved, beefed up version of ArtistServer.
Although iRate may seem like it's P2P, it's not. iRate consists of a desktop client, one which searches their entire database of submitted, and pretty much indie/homebrew music. If a song is selected, the client downloads it from the artist's server, requiring minimal interaction with links and such. The user rates the tracks downloaded, and iRate, using that extensive database mentioned, tries to find similar music that you'll like. And of course, it's completely free and legal (and open source!).
For a collection of public domain music, old 78 RPMs, and even some modern music created by artists similar to the ones on ArtistServer and Jamendo, Archive.org offers a huge range of free and legal music. From live classical music to music taken from old cylinder recordings, Archive.org is full of interesting artists and songs that are hard to find anywhere else.
Even though iTunes mainly offers purchasable music, Apple throws on a couple of free songs a week, encouraging listeners to discover new music. To make things easier, iTSFreeDownloads shows the free songs for every week, as well as recently free TV Shows, Audiobooks, and more. iTSFreeDownloads is the quickest and easiest way to check on the latest free tracks on iTunes. (via)