Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thing 70 : MP3 Downloads That Are Legal & Free

Summer Girl
This discovery exercise explores beyond Thing 48 and discusses various websites for free and legal MP3 downloads. With this year's library theme for Teen Tech Week being, "Just Press Play" (March 8-14, 2009), I wanted to be ready when someone asks me about free downloads for their new MP3 player. Librarians normally have to do some explaining about free music downloads--such as free music doesn't always equal the current popular songs they are listening to now and if they do find it, it might not be legally uploaded to the Internet.

After going through the 35 website suggestions mentioned in the discovery exercise, I narrowed it down to less than 10 that I would recommend to patrons. I eliminated them if they required any sort of software download or registration, others simply because I thought they were too difficult to navigate to find if there were songs available to download and what was available wasn't worth the effort of the search. Here are the cream of the crop that I thought were the least painful to use and have the most available for selection:

For Downloads to Listen To:

C|Net's Music.Download.Com
CNET has a very simple to use website for free music downloads. You can click on the link "111,052 Free MP3s" at the top of the web page and browse alphabetically. You can sort by artist name, song name, average rating, total listens, and others. Another way to search is to type the name of the artist or song you are looking for in the search box at the top to see if you get any hits. If there is a match, click on the link that says "see all free tracks". Then click on "download free MP3" to start downloading. You can play the song first to see if you want to download it. No registration required.

Mp3.com works with a wide array of musical artists. Click on the "Free Music" Tab and start browsing. You can sort the list by genre or by artist's name. Click "Play" to listen to the song first. Click on the "MP3" button and begin downloading when you're ready. Registration not required.

MP3Raid is a search engine that locates MP3s on the internet. It offers the widest range of free music available. Just type in the artist or song you are looking for in the search box. You may need to rename the MP3 files that are downloaded but MP3Raid will walk you through what you need to do. Registration not required.

PureVolume says that it is a website for the discovery and promotion of new music and emerging artists. Artists have the option of making each of their songs available for free download. Type in the album, artist or song name you're looking for. Click on the link for the artist name. Songs will be listed in the playlist. Some are available only to listen to, others you can listen to and download. Click on the "download" button and begin your download. No registration required.

For Downloads to Use in Your Creations:

Creative Commons MP3s. New artists upload their albums under Creative Commons promote their work. You can play, share, and download the songs to listen to or to use in your own works.

Site dedicated to music that you can download to remix and post your results, all under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical 3.0 United States License. Click on the "Search" button to get started.

Don't forget that many artists will offer free downloads of a few songs and podcasts to promote their work. If you go to their website or Myspace page they will mention if that is something they do.


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