11 Places to Legally Download Music (for Free!)
While it is, admittedly, incredibly easy to download almost any artist or album for free, in most cases, those downloads aren’t exactly legal. There are many ways to download music, free and legal, whether you scour the blogosphere, check out artist websites or sift through live recordings. You might not be able to get your hands on a new, full-length album without paying for it (but you should support the musicians and pay for it!), most bands offer up a free track to download on either their official website or on the record label’s website. Live recordings of concerts are plentiful, as well as mixtapes and live sessions.
Live Music Archive – The Live Music Archive has nearly 100,000 audience and soundboard recordings from shows available to stream and download. It also has an entire section dedicated to the Grateful Dead, complete with nearly 10,000 shows. Recordings can be hit or miss, but vigilant searching can turn up incredible performances and rare gems.
NPR Music – Garrison Keillor and Terry Gross aren’t the only good things to come from talk radio: NPR has become one of the best sources for new musical discoveries. With their Tiny Desk Concerts, the World Café program, recordings of concerts and exclusive first listens, NPR offers downloads for those willing to branch out and listen to something new.
NYC Taper – Some of New York City’s biggest (and smallest) shows find their way into this library of live performances. Featuring bootlegs from the recent CMJ festival and recordings throughout all five boroughs, NYC Taper fills the need for big city shows anytime, even on your mobile phone.
Daytrotter – Daytrotter’s original recordings are becoming the standard for younger music blogs looking to beef up their video repertoire. This websites studio-quality acoustic sessions and iconic cover art designs offer an experience more valuable than fan audio recordings. While some performances are free, a $2/month membership unlocks thousands of songs from up and coming artists.
Free Music Archive – This site lives up to its name with a treasure trove of music from independent artists. Managed by the freeform radio station WFMU, Free Music Archive guarantees access to legal singles and album downloads without paying a dime. There’s also a forum with other music enthusiast discussing the music industry and the best in new tunes.
Free Stash at Nugs.net – For religious jam fans, the Free Stash at Nugs.net is the book of hymns. Some of Relix’s favorite musicians offer up to 50 live shows available for download. Break your search down by band, show, and even song to accurately find what you’re looking for.
eTree – Don’t let the website’s old-school design fool you: E-tree has been providing quality live bootlegs from jam bands and DJs since 1998. Their server’s home to thousands of songs in a database that relies on its users to trade music. Online communities from Phish and the Dead keep this site running with a loyal appreciation for the live experience.
Stereogum – Stereogum is more than a music blog. This website provides news, videos, and a monthly mix of song downloads from today’s up-and-coming artists. Stereogum also premieres exclusive songs from independent and signed groups as well as unreleased demos and studio b-sides.
Spinner – Partnered with AOL Music, Spinner’s daily downloads section offers songs from the big names in hip-hop and R&B to indie rock and alternative. The site also features listening parties, which bring the buzz of new bands to your computer screen so you can stream new albums before you buy.
Hidden Track – Hidden Track’s “Stormy Monday” posts feature from-the-vault recordings (like a 1999 recording of Burning Spear, a 1996 recording of MMW) as well as acoustic mixes, jazz playlists and all-around great downloads.
Official band websites – Musicians will often offer up a free download of a track off an upcoming album while smaller, up-and-coming bands will sometimes release an entire EP for download. DJs like Girl Talk and Pretty Lights have all their albums available for free download on their website.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
Crystal Bowersox stops by Relix to perform a song from her new album, All That For This.
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