Where to get legally free music

I am spending way too much time hunting down legally free independent alternative rock music, but it’s paying off: I now have about 2,000 such songs in my library. About 50% of them have 3 stars in my iTunes library, 30% have 4 stars, and about 20% have 5 stars. Here’s how I find them: every morning, I visit the following sites to preview their legal, free download collection:

* StereoGum
* Better Propaganda
* AOL Spinner
* FingerTips
* InSound
* KEXP Radio
* PitchFork Tracks
* PitchFork Forkcast
* XL8
* Magnet Magazine
— Not chronologically sorted —
* Spin.com
* PureVolume (download from “Pro” artist accounts only)
— Live sessions —
* Daytrotter Sessions
* HearYa Sessions

And then of course, if you would like to go cherry pick the best songs yourself manually, there’s the various artist’s official web sites, and indie labels that usually host loads of mp3s, like SubPop, Vagrant, Matador, Merge, etc etc. And finally, there are the PR companies, like IODA, Beggars, Tool-Shed and many more! Yup, all legal, and most of it, exceptional!


memson wrote on October 1st, 2009 at 2:06 AM PST:

I keep forgetting – you might like this band – The Strange death of Liberal England (TSDOLE), who are a band from my home town.

Kurt Schroeder wrote on October 1st, 2009 at 7:16 AM PST:

How about blip.fm and combine it with an audio out cable that goes right back into the audio in port? 🙂

It’s like recording from the radio.

If this is not legal, than recording off the radio is illegal, too.

Alan Hargreaves wrote on October 1st, 2009 at 6:11 PM PST:

You might also want to add The Sixty One. All musicians who place downloads agree to distribute under creative commons.


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Eugenia wrote on October 1st, 2009 at 6:21 PM PST:

Sorry, no, this is a bad link as far as I am concerned. I can see a lot of indie but NOT creative commons songs there uploaded by fans and not by the bands themselves. It would require substantial work on the user’s part to find out which one is legitimate and which one is not.

The links I include above instead are (almost) always legitimate. Songs are placed on these sites after the bands/labels/PR asks them too, not fans. They are going via official channels to get content.

Alan Hargreaves wrote on October 1st, 2009 at 6:27 PM PST:

Interesting as to make a song downloadable you need to agree to the license and that you have the rights to agree to it.

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Eugenia wrote on October 1st, 2009 at 6:32 PM PST:

Yeah, people just upload and hit “ok” without reading anything. Or care about it. I saw songs over there from Bon Iver and Ra Ra Riot, whose PR or management would never agree to under such conditions.

Ryan V. wrote on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:32 PM PST:

Eugenia, are these free-as-in-speech or free-as-in-beer?

The sites you reference don’t seem to specify what kind of license these songs are released under, and I was under the impression that promo tracks like this are free to download for personal listening, but cannot be used to say, back a video.

I subscribe to the MPR Song A Day podcast, and have gotten some FANTASTIC indie music off of it (including Bon Iver and Ra Ra Riot). It’s definitely worth checking out, but I don’t think this music is freely remixable.

Not that that’s what this post is about, but when I read the beginning of the post, I thought you were talking about libre/podsafe music.

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Eugenia wrote on October 2nd, 2009 at 10:54 PM PST:

No. This is NOT a royalty-free music blog post. This is about free-to-download-and-listen COMMERCIAL music. You are not allowed to mix it with videos and such.

If you want to mix music with videos or remix, I have other blog posts you must read (search about Creative Commons). This one is about promotional commercial indie music.

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