How to Download Free Music
If you’re tired of spending all your money trying to keep up with the latest trends in music, take a look at some of our tips and tricks for How to Download Free Music.
Keep in mind that it is illegal to download copyrighted material without permission. See the RIAA’s website for more legal information. Make sure files are legal before you start downloading them!
Introduction to Downloading Free MP3’s
But be forewarned: just because a song is available online, doesn’t mean that it’s legal.
Try to make sure that the music you download is being offered legally by the band’s record company, or the artist themselves. Here are some tips on how to find and download free music online.
Be Careful What You Download
NOTE: It has been reported that some peer-to-peer download sites have been compromised by hackers, where they embed viruses into the MP3 files that are downloaded. SO, BE CAREFUL!
Step 1: Figure Out What You Want To Download
- Make a list of artists you may want to listen to.
- View lists of upcoming CD releases on sites like Billboard.com and Metacritic. Does your favorite artist have a new album coming out? If so, they may have some free songs available.
- Listen to the radio (whether it be online, digital or terrestrial). Are there any songs that have caught your attention lately? Didn’t catch the name of the band or song? Many radio stations will keep a record of recently played songs on their website.
Step 2: Search MP3 Blogs
- Stereogum: Music Blog: MP3 Downloads, Videos, News, Giveaways
- I Guess I’m Floating: Music, News, Music News, and Music/News of the Rock and/or Roll Variety
- Gorilla vs. Bear: Homepage
- You Ain’t No Picasso: Homepage
- Brooklyn Vegan: Homepage
- So Much Silence: Homepage
- Soul Sides: Homepage
- Hip Hop Ruckus: News, Music and more from Independent and Main Stream Hip Hop Artistry
- The Rap Up: Homepage
- Biff Hop: Biff’s Hip-Hop Section
MP3 Blog Aggregators
How to Find Music Using The Hype-Machine
- Go to the Music Blog aggregator The Hype-Machine.
- Type the name of an artist or song into the HypeMachine search box. This will pull up a list of blog posts that match your query.
- Click on the name of the song in order to view the original blog post, where you will usually find the link to the song in question.
- MP3 blogs will usually only host specific MP3s for a week or two. Since The HypeMachine lists blog posts in chronological order, you will have a better chance of finding available songs at the top of the list.
- 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 SeeqPod
- (Note: Although SeeqPod does not allow downloading, it is a great place to listen to new music)
- Go to the web site SeeqPod
- Type in the name of an artist or song into the search box.
- Click the “Search” button if you want to search for that exact artist.
- Click the “Discover” button if you want to search for music that is similar to that artist.
- Browse through the results of your search and choose a song you want to listen to.
- Run your cursor over the far-right corner of the song listing and click on the green arrow. This will add the song into the audio player and should cause it to begin playing automatically.
- Continue to add songs into the audio player in order to create a custom playlist.
- In order to save your playlist, create an account by completing the free sign-up process.
How to Find Music Using Elbo.ws
- Go to the Music Blog aggregator Elbo.ws
- Type the name of an artist or song into the “Keyword” search box.
- 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.
- 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.
- Find one that interests you and click on the listing in order to view the blog post and download the song.
How to Find Music Using del.icio.us
- Go to the Social Bookmarking site del.icio.us
- 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.
- 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)
- Search through the results and click on a link in order to play the track.
- 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
- By typing a specific string into the Google search box, you can access open indexes of music that are available for download. For instance:
- Typing in: -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:”index of” mp3 will bring up a list of MP3 directories
- While typing in: -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:”index of” mp3 “White Stripes” will bring up directories that contain songs by The White Stripes.
- Copy and paste the string above into Google, while replacing “White Stripes” with another artist.
- Browse the directory results for MP3s you want to download.
- The growth in popularity for online digital music distribution 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.
- Apple‘s proprietary iTunes music player program also doubles as an interface for its iTunes Store, which often offers free downloads.
- If you don’t already have it, download the iTunes software here.
- You can then access the iTunes Music Store either directly through your iTunes window or launch it from this link.
- Browse through releases for audio samples and for featured songs that you can download free of charge.
- If you want to skip the searching, you can refer to sites such as Get Free iTunes Store Downloads! and Free iTunes Downloads, which publish daily updates with direct links to free downloads in the iTunes Store.
- 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.eMusic: Official Site1
- The site also provides a download of the day service, which requires that you install their “Discovery Toolbar” plug-in for your web browser.eMusic: NEW! eMusic discovery toolbar2
- In addition to the free streaming previews of the music in its subscription program, Rhapsody offers a different free song available download every day on its Rhapsody Free Music Download page.
- Other Places to Look
- Aside from the big names in online distribution, there are plenty of other sources for legitimately 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.Matador Records: Matablog | Intended Play sampler 2008 — ready to download and burn (March 18, 2008)3 You should also check in with smaller sites which also offer free MP3s, including:
Step 5: Check an Artist’s Official Site and MySpace Page
- 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 may require you to register, while others may only be available for listening.
- Go to MySpace Music and find the artist’s official MySpace page (if they have one). Some bands will allow fans to download a song or two directly off their MySpace page. Look for the “Download” button underneath 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)
- Bit-Torrent file sharing protocol allows multiple Internet users to download and distribute large amounts of data at the same time. Using bit-torrent 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:
- Choose a Bit-Torrent client. There are plenty of choices to get yourself started, but some of the more popular clients include:
- Although each client may work slightly different than the other, the general usage is the same for this kind of software:
- Download and install your chosen client
- Locate .torrent files that will allow you to download the music you’re searching for.
- 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.
- Visit The Pirate Bay, the largest and most trusted torrent “tracker”
- Click on “Browse Torrents”
- Click on “Audio”
- You will now see a list of the most recently updated torrents in Pirate Bay’s system
- The column marked “Size” indicates the size of the file
- The column marked “SE” indicates the number of users currently “seeding” this file (See Step #12)
- To download, click the name of the file you wish to access
- You will see an information page giving a quick rundown about the file
- Click “Download This Torrent”
- Your Bit-Torrent client will pop up on screen and begin the download
- Most clients include a “% Downloaded” so you can watch your file’s progress
- 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.CNET News: TorrentSpy ordered to start tracking visitors (June 8, 2007)4
Other Torrent Trackers
- 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
- Download and install a P2P client
- Go to the System Preferences or Options
- 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
- Go to the Options or Preferences menu in your P2P client and look for the Port or Listening Port setting.
- 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)
- Log on to the router from your computer.
- Instructions for most routers can be found here at PortForward.com.
- Look for the headings Application or Configuration in your router’s menu and click on it.
- 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
- Click Save.
- 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 queueing 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.
- 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 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 taste, and to see who is online and what music they have to share.