Annie Logue shares resources for finding free – and legal – music and audiobooks in this article from our partner, Living on the Cheap.
I love music, and I have always spent money on it. It is one of the things that I try to work into my budget, no matter what else is going on. In my search for new music, I have found a lot of sources of free music. That’s great, because it can be hard to spend money on something that you have never heard before.
One of the best sources of free music is the Amazon MP3 store, which has a lot of sampler albums for download. These samplers feature many artists in a given genre or on a given label.
Another great source is emusic, an online music store with a deep catalog including free tracks and samplers. For years, the company operated on a subscription basis, with people paying a monthly fee for downloads. It now has an a la carte program, where you can buy one song at a time (or get the free songs), but you do need to register.
Rcrd Lbl is a site operated by the venerable music publication SPIN Magazine. Bands and record labels looking for promotion pay to have songs streamed or available for download. Sometimes, the free downloads are mashups or remixes that aren’t available for sale anywhere.
Many people use Last FM for streaming music, but the site also offers a ton of free downloads. You can find songs in almost every category of music, from classical to hardcore.
Noisetrade has a similar business model to Rcrd Lbl, with many full albums available. The bands tend to be less well known than those on Rcrd Lbl. You can get music for free or pay a tip to the band, your choice of amount, to help support its work. If you find something you like, go back and buy more from that artist. That’s the best way to keep them making music. Don’t let your thrift keep you from being a great fan. As much as I love a freebie, I also want to support the people who make the music that I love. When I hear something on a sampler that catches me, I’ll buy other works by that artist to add to my collection.
If you want audiobooks, check out two different sites. The first is The Big Read, a collection of actors, artists, and authors who each take on one chapter of Hermann Melville’s Moby Dick. It’s amazing.
The second is LibriVox, which has recordings of volunteers reading public domain books. The quality of the narration is better for some books than for others, but the selection includes books in many languages besides English, which can help you keep your foreign-language skills fresh.
Finally, you might wonder why anyone needs audio files in these days of such free streaming services as Spotify and Pandora. Those services don’t work everywhere. Whether you’re working out, sitting on a plane, or spending two months in China, you’ll want music you can listen to without Internet access.
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