I Love Free Music!

I Love Free Music!
Ben Harper: one of my many freebies

I’m on a free music high right now.  Sometimes I get lulled into thinking that buying musically digitally doesn’t cost money because all I need to do it type my password and I magically have a new song or album.  The buzzkill comes when I get a receipt for
it in my email.  And the worst of all is seeing the actual dollar amount in my stream of purchases on my bank statement.

Alas, music does cost money.  I remember back in the day when singles were $0.99 and a typical album was $9.99.  Now a new release single is usually $1.29 and an album can reach the low teens.  What a drag.

Good news, though.  Free music abounds!  I go through phases where I grab those little free cards at Starbucks, and I’m in one of  those phases right now.  I’ve gotten some really good songs from those cards in the past year or two: Robert Plant, Elton John & Leon Russell, Los Lobos, Eddie Vedder, Jakob Dylan, Spoon, Adele, Death Cab for Cutie and (just today) Lady Antebellum.  Sometimes I scoff at the little cards because I’ve never heard of the artist, which is actually all the more reason to try them free.  I’m still hoping to someday have the job of being the person who chooses the Starbucks music.  I’m pretty sure I’m highly qualified and they’ll want me.  It would be worth it just for the discount on my lattes.

My other favorite way of getting free music is from iTunes.  Each Tuesday they come out with a handful of singles that are free for about a week.  Currently you can download a Wilco song and a 6-song Bob Seger EP (Seger finally just licensed his songs on iTunes, so they’re promoting him big time).  There are a couple other free songs from artists I don’t know; I “bought” all and liked  some but not others.  But who cares- they were all free!

If you “like” iTunes on Facebook, they’ll often provide codes for free samplers, as well.  Before the Dave Matthews Caravan this summer, iTunes did a sampler of songs by some of the participating bands that was available through a code on Facebook.

There are subscription based services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, that allow you to access giant libraries or share music for a flat rate each month.  I haven’t tried those yet, not sure if I will yet.

Finally, I’m a big Pandora fan, even though it’s not a download service.  It’s kind of an online radio service that allows the user to create different radio stations and then it plays music based on that initial choice; you have the ability to give thumbs up or down to certain songs to help it refine what it plays.  I have a station based on Fitz & The Tantrums that plays things like Mary J. Blige, and I have another based on Dave Matthews that plays Jack Johnson, John Mayer, etc.  Pandora is free, although you’re limited as to how much you can listen every month, after which you have the option to purchase more time.  I listen at work fairly often and have never exceeded the time cap.  I’ve also found some songs and artists that I really like based on things they’ve played, which isn’t surprising since it’s based on my own preferences.

And there you have it: why buy the music when you can download the tracks for free.  If you pick up the Starbucks cards and check iTunes once a week you can start to acquire a decent number of free songs.  And I think I like those free songs just a little bit more because I haven’t paidfor them.  Thrifty me!

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