Courts around the country are fining people outrageous amounts of money for illegally downloading and sharing music on peer-to-peer web sites like Limewire and KaZaA. A graduate student was just fined $22,500 per song. A Minnesota woman was fined $1.9 million for 24 songs. Ouch! And so unnecessary.
You can fill your music player or computer with tons of free music without risking becoming a defendant in a Recording Industry Association of America lawsuit. The web is full of sites where you can legally download free MP3s and other music files. Here is a partial list. Many of these sites only feature a few free downloads a day or week, but if you get in the habit of visiting the sites often you can fill your iPod, Zune, or other music player, save money, and expose yourself to new music.
Amazon.com: (www.Amazon.com). Every day Amazon offers a new free MP3 download. You can find the new free download by visiting Amazon's special discount MP3 store. In addition to this daily download, Amazon offers hundreds of other free downloads.
From Amazon's home page click on "Digital Downloads," select "MP3 Downloads," and then click on "Free Song of the Day" or at the bottom of the page "Special MP3 Deals."
iTunes. First you have to download iTunes to your computer. (www.iTunes.com).
The download is free. Once iTunes is installed go to the home page and scroll toward the bottom. You will see a section called "Free on iTunes" -- which lists the free songs, videos, episodes of TV shows, and other free content available each week. To the right you'll find a box that features free iPhone and iTouch applications. It is titled "Top Free Apps." iTunes also offers tons of free podcasts, which are the equivalent of free radio programming except that is not broadcast over the radio. If you are a music fan try the following podcasts. Find them by typing the name of the podcast in the search box:
KCRW's Today's Top Tune
KEXP Song of the Day
iTunes New Music Tuesday
If you like these podcasts you can subscribe to them and they will automatically download to your computer. And again, they are free.
Fuse: (www.fuse.tv). Fuse features its free music downloads on its home page.
Last FM: (http://www.last.fm/music/+free-music-downloads).
Free Celtic Music: (http://www.celticmp3s.com/) On the home page click on the words in the center of the page that read "Download Free Celtic Music Now." Celtic MP3s Music Magazine is a monthly that offers new Celtic, Scottish, and Irish music from around the world. Start collecting downloads now and you'll be able to supply all the tunes on St. Patrick's Day.
Artists Direct: (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/freestuff/0,,,00.html) or from the home page click on "Free Stuff" and look for the free downloads (currently along the right hand side of the page).
Offers free music downloads that can be played on any music player. The service is supported by advertising.
MP3.com (www.mp3.com). From the home page click on "Free Music."
Free Music Group: (www.freemusicgroup.com)
Free Music Directory: (www.freemusicdirectory.com)
ReverbNation and Windows are offering 1,000 free music downloads. Click on the banner "1,000 Free Song Downloads" in the center of the page. The downloads are MP3s and M4As. You can download them all, if you wish, no charge.
Jamendo: (www.jamendo.com). Jamendo allows artists to log on to share their music. As advertised on the home page, it's free, legal, and unlimited.
Rhapsody: (www.Rhapsody.com). Rhapsody is a subscription service, but it offers some free downloads. From the home page click on "MP3" and then on the MP3 page click on "Free Song of the Day."
Music makes everything better; and FREE music is just sweet. Help out the community of music lovers. If you know of a site that offers FREE downloads that are LEGAL, post it in the comments section. Likewise, if you learn that any of the links noted above have changed or no longer offer LEGAL downloads, leave a comment so they can be corrected and others can find and get great tunes.