A brief (and probably mostly irrelevant) introduction: Throughout my 29 years on this planet, I have witnessed music evolve from 8-tracks, to records/vinyl, to cassette tapes, to CDs. Somewhere in there radio stations were still using something called Reel-to-Reel... a phrase/device that today's teenagers have probably never even heard of. Frankly, I'm glad it's gone. It was a pain to use. In high school I had to splice one of those for credit before my teacher would allow me to be a dj on his radio station.
Nowadays, though, people all over the world are downloading their music online in the form of "digital downloads" or "MP3s", and radio stations don't need to worry about their music being scratched as it is mostly, if not all, computerized. Welcome to the 21st century, friends. The romance of the vintage record stores (a la High Fidelity) may be gone, but there are many other perks to being able to instantly purchase your favorite songs with just a click of the mouse.
A quick search of free music downloads yields overwhelming results, but one must still be careful in downloading anything copyrighted on the internet without permission. So to be safe, here are a few tips to finding free mp3s online.
Directly from the artist/record label:
The newest trend in digital downloads is the release of free music put out directly by the artist and/or record label to help promote their upcoming albums. In October of 2007, many were shocked (and thrilled! I was!) to find that Radiohead was releasing their latest album, "In Rainbows", completely free to the public for a limited time.
If you know of a new album coming out, check out the artist's official website as many of them will offer either a track or an entire album FREE! Downloading directly from the artist and record label will ensure you are downloading legal mp3s. This is often time-sensitive, however, so know that they do expire.
A few examples of artists currently offering free downloads:
Barenaked Ladies' "7 8 9" (song only)
Due West (entire album, limited time!)
Nine Inch Nails, The Slip (entire album)
Many MP3 blogs exist where people often share their favorite downloads. You can easily add them to your RSS Reader and be notified every time they are updated, thus ensuring you keep up to date with the latest music out there. That's important for those of us who feel like we're seriously losing grasp of what music is up and coming.
Here is a list of some of the more popular (and truly cool) blogs that I am personally subscribed to:
Gorilla Vs. Bear
I am Fuel, You are Friends (My personal favorite recommendation!)
I Guess I'm Floating
My Old Kentucky Blog
You Ain't No Picasso
Social Networking Websites:
If you check out an artist's official MySpace, Facebook, even Twitter pages, you will often find free downloads or news of where you can find them.
A Cool Google Trick:
If none of the above suggestions appeal to your personalized tastes, you can enter in specific text to bring up search results for specific MP3s. (Again, practice safe, legal downloading!)
For a general list, copy and paste the following text into Google.com: -inurl:htm-inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3
To look up MP3s to a specific artist, copy and paste the following text into Google.com (changing Kanye West to the name of the artist you are searching out): -inurl:htm-inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 "Kanye West"
Thanks for letting me have my "hip" moment in sharing tips on legal, free music downloads... Happy listening!