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More of the Free

In my last column I talked about a bunch of places on the Internet where you can get free music that, if not 100- percent legal, at least won’t get you sued by your nice friends at the major record companies. I hit my word limit just as I was getting warmed up, so here are a bunch more places to go and get free music downloads.

There is a growing body of great music available through Creative Commons licenses, where the artist specifically releases the music on the Web for people to download for free. Why would they do that, you ask? So you will listen to it, dummy! These artists have come to the conclusion that they’d rather have folks actually listen to their music than pitch it to a big label on the slight chance that a label would release it and the even slighter chance that the label would properly promote and distribute it, and the miniscule chance that some radio station might actually play it. Post it, baby, and it’s gone.

Tons, days, weeks of free music like this is available at There are, right now, almost 40,000 live concerts posted there for free download, all with the blessings of the artists—these are of varying quality, so keep your expectations modest, but there are some real gems there. also hosts a bunch of Net labels, record labels that post an astonishing array of studio recordings from all over the world. You’re not going to find the Billboard 200 here, but you are going to find a whole lot of interesting and unusual stuff. There’s another comprehensive directory of Net labels at Another outrageous directory can be found at www.odd, with hundreds of fantastic sites catalogued, described and linked. One of the greatest Net labels is the pioneering, which has a deep catalogue of wild stuff, including the sublime MartiniBomb and the always-pleasant Gimp Nipples.

Want your Creative Commons music pre-vetted? Go to my pal Biotic’s blog at and see what he’s picked out. Biotic hosts the radio show “Black Sweater White Cat” Saturdays from 9 to 11 PM on Great Barrington’s WBCR-LP, streaming at Biotic plays exclusively music he finds on the Web with Creative Commons licenses, and features regular live interviews with various luminaries of the growing CC community of artists. He then posts his playlists on his blog, with links to all of the songs he plays so that you can download all of them at your leisure. And if you’re lazy and just want Biotic to be your guide, a bunch of his radio shows are archived as podcasts that you can download and keep.

Which brings me to the topic of music blogs, which I think are the best-kept secrets on the Web. This is where music lovers post tunes for download. Often much of this stuff is posted on shaky legal grounds—much of what I see on music blogs probably have existing copyrights, at least hypothetically. But the nature of copyright today is such that there is a ton of music that have existing copyrights that nobody cares about. The artists are long gone, the label is defunct, or a track is so far buried in some label’s portfolio that it would never see the light of day without the intervention of the music bloggers. In this light, I feel that most of these bloggers are providing a remarkable service, they are heroes; they are liberating some fine, fine music. Many of these sites have disclaimers, saying that if a copyright holder objects to the music being posted to let the blogger know. It’s telling that I’ve rarely seen a track removed off of any of these sites.

One of my favorites is www.little, which posts, more-or-less daily, indie singles mostly from the new-wave era of the late ’70s early ’80s. This site is more curated than managed—the descriptions of the tracks and the bands is scholarly and personal, the selections lovingly presented with original cover art. This is a brilliantly cool site.

Another favorite is, which periodically posts rare 45s from the ’60s, again with great explanations and original labels/cover-art. Wanna have some fun? Start at 45blog, grab the handful of tracks there and then start exploring the extensive list of links to like-minded music blogs listed on the right-hand side. Kiss your day goodbye. Each of the 30 to 40 links goes to a similar site, with names like “Cake and Polka Parade” and the “The Naughahyde Life,” each of which has loads of tracks, from the beautiful to the absurd, for download. And most of these sites have large link-lists of their own to even more music blogs; the possibilities, the sheer volume of terrific free stuff these blogs have, is truly endless.

Get into it, and it’s addicting. Follow your mouse and you’ll be hooked. Fill up your iPod and hit the road. You may never listen to the radio again, and you’ll be a better person for it.

—Paul C. Rapp

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