Free and Legal Music

How to fill your new MP3 player with free and legal music

That seems impossible, what is this all about ?

An amazing amount of free and legal music is available on the internet :
- Beginning artists make their tracks available, in the hope to be discovered.
- Established bands make some of their tracks available or allow downloading live performances.
- Record labels want to sell records and allow downloading some tracks from their albums.
- Fans want to promote their favorite artists or genres and (often temporarily) publish tracks on their weblog or web sites too.
Given enough computing power and bandwidth, it is easy for a robot to scan the entire internet and collect all that music, both legal and illegal, as has been done by Lycos, TheUltimateMp3List, SingingFish and SeeqPod. That seems interesting at first, but it does not help music lovers, searching for new music they might like, because these robots do not rate or classify the music they found, and it sure does not help those who want to explore the huge amount of legal ones only. They are just a big help for artists, who need a quick way to find any illegal tracks and have them taken down.

Where do I find the free music ?

Workgroups that organize the chaos of available music, help to discover what you are looking for.
Many specialize in free and legal music downloads, like Creative Commons, Archive.org, Agnula Libre Music, Etree, Music for America, Common Content, CNet download.com, SoundClick, Purevolume, Open Music Source, mp3music.bz, iPod-music.de, ArtistServer, MusicV2, South by Southwest Festivals, Jamendo, DiSfish, Musopen (classical music), ...
Many workgroups cater for beginning musicians and have a huge selection (which often implies a low quality). The better ones of those are Vitaminic, Epitonic, MP3.com.au, BeSonic, Unsigned Band Web, ElectroBel, ...
MusicHosts and MusicHosting have huge tables, comparing features of online music distributors, made for artists looking for hosting services, but listeners can use them to find the sites they might want to explore too.
Many labels require an email address, before you can taste their free tracks. Use a disposable email address from Yahoo, or use services similar to Bugmenot Email, Sneakemail, Mailinator and Spam.la to avoid more spam. When sites require a login/password, before you can taste their music, it indicates they are more interested in harvesting email addresses, than showing what they really have. Better use services like Bugmenot, to show that you do not want that.
Freeplaymusic has many high quality instrumental tracks, that can be downloaded for private non commercial use in presentations and home videos.
Netlabels distribute music in digital formats only and often offer their whole catalog for free. The Netlabel Catalog, a Wiki with hundreds of links organized by genre can be found here.
Most commercial labels have only 30 second previews and are often not worth wasting your time, unless they have a huge selection like the iTunes Music Store (ITMS), which also offers one free track every week and free podcasts.
Juice, free software licensed under the GPL, is an alternative for downloading these podcasts.
CDBaby offers 2 minute 30 second previews and .m3u playlists that you can import in iTunes, giving a much better idea of what they have to offer. You can sample their huge catalog of independent artists, and often download full tracks from the artist's own web sites too. Some of these independent artists can be rewarded, by paying for the tracks you really like, at online music stores like the ITMS and mp3tunes.
One label offers full tracks before you buy anything.
Magnatune is an innovative label that uses a shareware like approach, where 50 % of the payment goes directly to the artist, and you can even choose how much you want to pay.

Seen that, been there..., where can I find more ?

Internet radio stations have continuous streams of interesting programs that can easily be recorded. Musicmoz, the Open Music Project, has links to those and much more.
Collaborative systems allow listeners to rate the music they like. There are currently three systems is only one remaining system, which does not use genres and allows cross boundary explorations.
Webjay is was a web site where music lovers can publish the music they like. If you find someone with a similar taste there, that is a good start, but often that is difficult, as there is only a page with "Popular" and "New" playlists. They have also a bookmarklet which creates new playlists from webpages you visit. These went into the "Imported" catalog, which always contained interesting finds from others currently discovering new sounds, but that seems to be not available anymore.
iRATEradio is an open source Java client program which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. It downloads tracks in the background (perfect for very slow sites like IUMA, or if you do not have a fast connection). You trash or rate them and it tries to give you more like the ones you liked. As the player is primitive, it is better to create a new playlist in iTunes and drop the tracks there. This also allows you to correct or add the often bad or missing ID3 tags easily. Make sure to switch off "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library" first.
Indy.tv is was another Java program which runs on all platforms too, similar to (but easier to use than) iRATEradio. It is THE radio station you always wanted ! You simply skip the tracks you do not like. It quickly learns what you prefer and those tracks are stored on your computer, so you can move them to your preferred MP3 player.
Wiki pages like the 1 Million Free & Legal Music Tracks page are another amazing source of free and legal music. On this page, anyone can add the sites they found worthwhile. Use it to publish the discoveries you have made.
The following page contains a more up to date list of free legal mp3 music downloads

Contact us to report broken links and suggest new sites, or if you can translate this page and want us to host it. If you prefer to host your translation on your own site, just add a link back to this page and tell us, so we can link to your translation too.
A slightly edited machine translation of this page is available in French, German and Spanish. They contain even more links to similar sites in these languages. Explore them, as in most languages, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Blues, etc. remain exactly the same. Give back to the web and help us to correct any errors.
New sites and technologies appear continuously and old ones become obsolete. Bookmark this page and check back once every month.
Last update : September 2010.

We try to collect the best free and legal instrumental Smooth Lounge Funky Groove Jazz tracks on the net.
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