How to Download Free Music

Introduction

If done legally, downloading free music for free won't put your favorite musician out of work and can help you discover new artists and albums. However, be careful; just because a song is available online doesn't mean it's legal. Make sure that the music you download is being offered legally by the artist's record company or the artists themselves. When you're ready to start finding free tunes, follow these suggetions on how to find and download free music online.

Step 1: Figure Out What You Want to Download

  1. Make a list of bands you may want to listen to.

  2. View lists of upcoming CD releases on sites like Billboard.comc and Metacriticc. Does your favorite artist have a new album in the pipeline? If so, they may have some free songs available.

  3. Listen to the radio (be it online, digital or terrestrial). Are there any jingles that have caught your attention lately? Didn't catch the name of the band or song? Many radio stations will keep a list of recently played songs on their website.

Step 2: Search MP3 Blogs

Music fans from all over the world have begun to keep logs of some of their favorite music and post MP3s for their readers to download and and discover. These are called MP3 blogs. Here are a few of the most popular music blogs, grouped by genre:

Indie

  1. Stereogumc
  2. I Guess I'm Floatingc
  3. Gorilla vs. Bearc
  4. You Ain't No Picassoc
  5. Brooklyn Veganc

Pop/Rock

  1. My Old Kentucky Blogc
  2. Aquarium Drunkardc
  3. I Am Fuel, You Are Friendsc

Hip Hop/Soul

  1. So Much Silencec
  2. Soul Sidesc
  3. Rap-Upc

Electronica/Dance

  1. Digital Eargasmc
  2. Discobellec
  3. Resident Advisorc

MP3 Blog Aggregators

MP3 Blog aggregators scan the most popular music blogs and filter them into a searchable MP3 database. Aggregators allow you to search for music by artist or song, as well as discover some of the most popular MP3 blogs online. Here is how to use a few of the most popular:

How to Find Music Using The Hype Machine

  1. Go to the music blog aggregator The Hype Machine.c

  2. Type the name of an artist or song into the Hype Machine search box. This will pull up a list of blog posts that match your query.

  3. Click on the name of the song in order to view the original blog post, where you will typically find the link to the song in question.

  4. MP3 blogs will usually only host specific MP3s for a week or two. Since The Hype Machine lists blog posts in chronological order, you will have a better chance of finding available songs at the top of the list.

  5. If you just want to listen to the tracks on the results page, click on the button that says "Pop-up Flash Player." This will launch a stand-alone music player that will stream the available songs on the list.

How to Find Music Using Elbo.ws

  1. Go to the music blog aggregator Elbo.wsc

  2. Type the name of an artist or song into the "Keyword" search box.

  3. Look through the list of artist matches and click on the one that best matches your search. This will bring up a list of blog posts that mention your search term.

  4. At the top of your search results, click on the heading "Tracks". This will bring up a list of only those tracks that match your search term.

  5. Find one that interests you and click on the listing in order to view the post and download the song.

How to Find Music Using del.icio.us

  1. Go to the Social Bookmarking site del.icio.us.c

  2. Create a custom search by typing "http://del.icio.us/tag/system:filetype:mp3" into the URL box. This will bring up a list of all of the MP3s on del.icio.us.

  3. In order to search for music from a specific artist, add "+ArtistName" to the end of the URL. (i.e. "http://del.icio.us/tag/system:filetype:mp3+Radiohead")

  4. Search through the results and click on a link in order to play the track.

  5. Right-click on the link and choose "Save Link As" in order to download the file.

Step 3: Use Google To Find Free Music Downloads

  1. By typing a specific string into the Google search box, you can access open indices of music that are available for download.c For instance:

  2. Typing in: -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 will bring up a list of MP3 directories.c

  3. While typing in: -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 "White Stripes" will bring up directories that contain songs by The White Stripes.c

  4. Copy and paste the string above into Google, while replacing "White Stripes" with another artist.

  5. Browse the directory results for MP3s you want to download.

Step 4: Search Retail MP3 Sites For Free Samples

  • The growth in popularity of websites to download free music means that it's even easier to find free and legal downloads of all sorts of new music. Many major distributors will provide free tracks in order to promote other releases.
iTunes
Apple's proprietary iTunes music player program also doubles as an interface for its iTunes Store, which often offers free downloads.

  1. If you don't already have it, download the iTunes software.c
  2. You can then access the iTunes Music Store either directly through your iTunes window or launch it from this link.
  3. Browse through releases for audio samples and for featured songs or featured artists that you can download free of charge.
  4. If you want to skip the searching, you can refer to sites such as Get Free iTunes Store Downloadsc and Free iTunes Downloadsc, which publish daily updates with direct links to free downloads in the iTunes Store.
eMusic
eMusic is a online distribution service similar to iTunes, and also provides free sample downloads.

eMusic offers a free trial of its service, where you can download and keep 25 free tracks—without any commitment to subscribe to its service.c

Rhapsody
In addition to the free streaming previews of the music in its subscription program, Rhapsody offers a different free song available for download every day on its Rhapsody Free Music Download page.c

Other Places to Look
Aside from the big names in online distribution, there are plenty of other sources for free downloads. Record companies will often upload sample tracks or audio clips onto MP3 sites in order to generate interest in a band and give people a sample of their sound.c

You should also check in with smaller sites that also offer free MP3s, including PureVolumec, GarageBandc and SoundClickc.

Step 5: Check an Artist's Official Site and MySpace Page

  1. Go to the official site for the artist you are interested in. Many artists will have an MP3/audio/multimedia section that offers free samples of their work. Some might require you to register.

  2. Go to MySpace Music and find the artist's official MySpace page. Some bands will allow fans to download a song or two directly off their MySpace page. Look for the "Download" button beneath each song. If the button is in bold, then the song is downloadable. (Note: Unsigned bands are more likely to offer free downloads on MySpace than established artists.)c

Finding Music With Bit-Torrent

Bit-Torrent file sharing protocol allows multiple Internet users to download and distribute large amounts of data at the same time. Using BitTorrent may be a little more involved than just saving a file from a website, but the fruits of your labor are often of higher quality. To get started:

  1. Choose a Bit-Torrent client. There are plenty of choices to get yourself started, but some of the more popular clients include:
    • The Official Bit-Torrent client from the protocol's designersc
    • uTorrentc
    • Vuze (formerly known as Azureus)c
    • Torrent Swapperc
  2. Although each client may work slightly different than the other, the general usage is the same for this kind of software:
    1. Download and install your chosen client
    2. Locate .torrent files that will allow you to download the music you're searching for.
    3. Leave the program running until the download completes.
Now that your computer can process torrents, it's time to start looking for them on the Web.

  1. Visit The Pirate Bay, one of the largest and most trusted torrent "trackers."c
  2. Click on "Browse Torrents."
  3. Click on "Audio."
  4. You will now see a list of the most recently updated torrents in Pirate Bay.
  5. The column marked "Size" indicates the size of the file.
  6. The column marked "SE" indicates the number of users currently "seeding" this file (see Step 12).
  7. To download, click the name of the file you wish to access.
  8. You will see an information page giving a quick rundown about the file.
  9. Click "Download This Torrent."
  10. Your Bit-Torrent client will pop up on screen and begin the download.
  11. Most clients include a "percent downloaded" so you can watch your file's progress.
  12. Once your download is complete, it is considered polite to continue to "seed" the file for other users.
Seeding: Continuing to upload the file to other users even after you have finished with your download.
  • Generally, the more users are seeding a file, the faster it will download to your computer.
Beware of "honeypots":
    • Some sites have been set up to trap users looking for torrents to illegally download copyrighted material.
    • For example, the large tracker site TorrentSpy has been ordered to track and log all of its visitor activity.c

    Peer-to-Peer Downloads

    • Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks allow individuals to share files with several participants at once.

    • There are several different operational peer-to-peer networks, each with multiple applications, or clients, allowing access.

    Choosing a Peer-to-Peer Network and Client

    The largest P2P networks are Gnutella, ED2K c and Soulseek.c

    • Popular Gnutella clients:
      • Lime Wirec
      • Acquisition (Mac only)c
      • Morpheus (PC only)c
    • Popular ED2K client:
      • eMule (PC only)c
    • Popular Soulseek clients:
      • Soulseek Client (PC only)c
      • SoulseeX (Mac only)c

    Getting Started

    1. Download and install a P2P client.

    2. Go to the "System Preferences" or "Options."

    3. Designate a "shared" folder on your hard drive. Content from this folder will be made available to other users on your P2P network, so be sure that there's nothing there that you wish to keep private.

    Getting Past a Firewall

    If you're using a Wireless Router to connect to the Internet, chances are it comes with a Firewall installed.
    • Firewalls will sometimes block your computer's access to peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
    1. Go to the "Options" or "Preferences" menu in your P2P client and look for the "Port" or "Listening Port" setting.
    2. You'll need to know which port the client will be using in order to set up your router. (Ports are usually three-to-five digit numbers.)
    3. Log on to the router from your computer.
    4. Instructions for most routers can be found online.c
    5. Look for the headings "Application" or "Configuration" in your router's menu and click on it.
    6. Enter in the same port number from your P2P client and, if possible, enter in the name of your P2P client so you'll remember why you left open this port later.
    7. Click "Save."
    8. Your router should now be set to allow for P2P downloads.

    Downloading Over a Peer-to-Peer Network

    Search for new music. When you see a song you want to download, just double click, and it will usually begin downloading or queuing automatically. If many users are attempting to access one set of files at the same time, an online queue automatically forms, and downloads will start on a first-come first-served basis. (Tip: Monitor your queued or pending downloads as disconnections or hiccups are common.)

    Most clients allow for multiple simultaneous downloads. Check the files you have downloaded before burning to a CD, as occasionally they will be incorrectly labeled or of low quality.

    Getting the Most Out of P2P Downloading

    Be specific; overly general or vague searches can produce too many results. For example: Instead of "Prince," try "Prince Purple Rain."

    Once you're downloading a song from another user, most P2P clients will give you the option to view all of their shared content. Try right-clicking on their username. This will enable you to find whole albums to download rather than individual songs. Likewise, if you find another user with similar musical tastes to your own, it can be a great way to discover new music.

    Most P2P clients have a chat option. Network chat rooms are a good way to find other users with similar tastes, and to see who is online and what music they can share.

    References

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