Saturday, March 1, 2008

10 Ways to Fill Your iPod Without Facing the Wrath of the RIAA

This mind-blowing article will change your [downloading] life.

Here's a word you should know -
Free·gal /'frig…ôl/ adj.
Music that is both free and legal. A word so hidden from the public that some don't even believe it exists. Allows a desperate audience to listen to their favorite artists without losing all their money on iTunes, attracting viruses, or getting haunting nightmares of the FBI storming into their houses.

Top 10 'freegal' music sources on the web:

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1) EMUSIC (link in left margin):
This online music service offers a sweet 50 song/2 week free trial to new sign-ups. You can keep all your songs without being charged, even if you decide to quit. The website also dedicates an entire section to additional
free tracks that you can download without signing up for a trial or membership.

If you have a Facebook, add the “Daily eMusic Free mp3” application so you can easily download an additional daily freebie.

The best part of eMusic is that all their songs are completely DRM-free and already in mp3 form, meaning you can burn your songs onto however many CDs you want; this is not allowed with Rhapsody, Napster, or iTunes. The eMusic catalogue has over two million songs, mostly indie-centric, but has more than enough recognizable names – The White Stripes, Stereophonics,Arcade Fire, Spoon; even Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift, if you are into that sort of thing.

2) ADVERTISING MODELS –
CD sales are plummeting while more and more people turn to digital music. The big labels are quickly catching on, and are eager to somehow make money out of this. The result? Advertising-supported music offerings. Spiralfrog (link in the left margin)
is particularly ingenious. The service forces people to watch ads while a song downloads. The website is backed by Universal so you have a good majority of the radio songs available – Rihanna, Fergie, Timbaland, Plain White T’s, Kanye West, etc. We7.com plays a short ad at the start of a track up to eight times after it is downloaded to support its indie artists. These ideas could potentially explode in popularity because it is much more practical for the record label, enabling them to get paid each time a song is streamed rather than just once or not at all. There is said to be a legal version of Limewire out soon, incorporating this ad-funding scheme called QTrax. Until that time enjoy the plethora of other options on this list.


A screenshot of SpiralFrog. The download manager on the right is uploading the song "Crank That". To access this site click on its ad in the left margin.

3) AUDIO SEARCH ENGINES:
These search engines are goldmines for virtually every piece of music online. However, they are dangerous if not used carefully. Some of the songs could contain harmful bugs and others could be completely illegal. You’ll need to check the link first to see if the website is reputable before pressing the download button. My favorites are SkreemR (
skreemr.com), MP3Realm (mp3realm.org), and Troyson Music Search (troyson.com).

4) BUSINESS VENTURES:
Major companies often team up to offer free music to the public. iTunes has been offering a free song weekly for the past few years, which you can access at
itsfreedownloads.com. Unfortunately, these types of offers are limited to songs that the company chooses to promote. In the past, iTunes had great free songs - Rogue Wave, Kaiser Chiefs, Death Cab For Cutie, M.I.A. Lately the selection has turned sour, featuring songs you would never pick if you had a choice. The $1 billion Pepsi Stuff promotion, which launched at the 2008 Superbowl, is superb in comparison. It allows consumers to obtain points from Pepsi products, and exchange them for any mp3s from Amazon. This is good for people willing to drink 10 bottles of Pepsi for the equivalent of a free CD, but stuff like this usually falls under the category of “marketing ploy”. Enjoy the free music when its easy and available, but going on a Pepsi-frenzy is not worth it.

4a) PARTICIPATION-REQUIRED SITES:
MPfree.com
works with both businesses and record labels to provide free music downloads in exchange for your participation. Their offers do not require a credit card or purchase, and are easy as printing a free coupon, completing a survey or requesting free product information. .

5) MP3 BLOGS (HYPEM.COM):
“Audioblogging” is simple. Creators add a mp3 file - ranging from rare B-sides from decades ago to popular, new music - that they want to share with the masses to a post, along with a few comments. All you have to do is right-click the link and save the file to your computer. Not only is this legal, but the music industry actually supports audioblogs. Many labels even send writers free products and demos, in hopes of promoting a new song or artist through the popularity of the Internet. Bloggers are sometimes DJs for popular bands or talent scouts for major labels themselves, so (most of the time) they have the permissions to post the music. Use the Hype Machine [hypem.com] to scour thousands of mp3 blogs all over the world, for particular songs and artists. With this tool, you would be hard pressed not to find the latest innovations from any artist you are looking for in just a few moments.

6) RECORD THE RADIO:
If you were intelligent and bought your mp3 player based on its cool features rather than the hype surrounding it, then you already know what I’m talking about. The Creative Zen and the Microsoft Zune have an amazing FM radio functionality that allows users to record songs from the radio directly onto their player. The quality is not noticeably different and is just as good as a song bought for a dollar from iTunes. For people who don’t have this function, there is a downloadable software at
StationRipper.com that works just as well.

7) STREAMING ONLINE RADIOS:
If you don’t have an mp3 player or you just don’t want to waste any space on your hard drive, there are an abundance of websites that allow you to listen to music instantly. Streaming online radios use cool technology to gather music tailored to your tastes by comparing your favorites to other users (
last.fm), using certain musical attributes (Pandora.com), or by your emotions (musicovery.com). These websites are some of the coolest things the Internet has to offer, in terms of music.


8) THE ARTIST’S WEBSITE:
Smaller bands have been posting entire albums on their websites since the dial-up days, hoping to increase their popularity and ticket sales this way. Radiohead’s similar stunt last October when they posted their entire new album, “In Rainbows”, free online has signaled the start of more mainstream bands finally realizing they are too rich to keep making music for cash. Madonna and The Eagles have already abandoned their record labels. Prince is practically giving away his albums on the street. Follow your favorite artists closely, so you can take advantage of the unreleased demos they frequently add to their websites, as well. The Weird Al parody “You’re Pitiful” which didn't make it onto his album, was available for a while on weirdal.com.

9) CREATIVE COMMONS WEBSITES:
There are tons of websites out there that are made legitimate by Creative Commons licenses. These licenses loosen restrictions on copyrighted music, allowing it to be redistributed at no charge. Some of these include the ‘noncommercial license’ (you can download the music for noncommercial purposes only) and the ‘attribution license’ (you can download, and perform the work as long as you give credit). With these, websites can distribute free music with the artist’s permission. It works out great for new talent looking to attract new fans. PureVolume (
purevolume.com) describes itself as “the place for rising artists to host their mp3s and get exposure”. There are over 100,000 mp3s available for visitors to download. Some similar websites are the eclectic Jamendo.com and CNET’s popular download.com.

Beware though, these sites are mainly for open-minded music lovers willing to try something different. While there are some recognizable names up here, their catalogues mostly contain lesser-known bands. Though these aren’t mainstream artists there is a good chance you will be turned onto something you like. The rating systems allow you to separate the high-quality stuff from the duds. And in the past, artists whose uploaded music was favorably rated on these types of sites went on to sign contracts with major labels and even make Billboard charts. So you can be cooler than all your friends and find out about awesome music before it hits the mainstream, and then complain when its featured on the radio a year later.


10)
COMPILATION SITES –
There is so much free, legal music available online right now that it’s difficult to keep up with. However, many people have taken it upon themselves to compile it all for you. They forward you to artists who have just posted a free song or to those frequent music giveaways sponsored by a popular magazine or website.
ZuneInsider.com and TotallyFreeMusic both post “collections of free n clear music”, as they call it, from a wide array of bands along with their own reviews of the songs. The best is a little site called TheFreebiesBlog.com, under the category entitled ‘Free Music’. It is updated daily and features free downloads from artists you actually know. Xanga music blogs also have archives of free songs, listed in a more organized manner.

- Shefali Hegde 3/1/08
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This is all...for now. If this gets popular enough, I may add a more convenient chart thing. I will be sure to update with new sites when they come out.

There are some excellent links featured in the Google Ad section (to the left and below). Not all things that are gray and annoying are automatically irrelevant.

Note: If I'm missing your favorite site on here, I probably just don't like it. Either way, please do comment if this was at all beneficial to you or if you have any questions/issues!