Alright, what to write about this lovely evening? Have I left out enough details online to talk about the report at my new job that there is significant animosity between the union folks whose high hourly wages and Cadillac benefit plans pushed to the company to outsource an entire department? Nah, I'll wait until I get called a scab. :-D How about the "war of words" going on between Bill Clinton and Rush Limbaugh? No, I'm in a good mood tonight, no reason to blow it on an press hungry former president.
Instead, I feel like talking music. Like a large part of the US workforce, I'm not making enough money to shell out for CD's or iTunes. But music is still a big deal to me. Do I turn to piracy to feed the hunger for new tunes? Preferably not, although questions about the illegality of getting digital copies of albums owned on tape or out of print music come to mind, but we'll save that for another day. No, instead we turn to the world of free and legal download-able music. Simply googling for free legal music, MP3s, or other terms tends to pull up sites that lead you on a wild goosechase of links, or the most original one I ran into, offer free downloads of popular songs, as covered by the sites own house band. It's one of those occasions where Google just doesn't cut it. That's where I come in.
The main focus will be Christian music, mainly of the hard and heavy persuasion. One of the best places to start is blabberdownload.com. The gentleman that runs it hangs out on firestream, the believer's heavy metal refuge (so do I, I'm righteous_slave there, just like on twitter) and dredges the web for the best in free, legal, Christian metal, punk, black metal, hardcore, ect for us cheapskates to download. The site doesn't host anything, instead providing links to where bands and labels have their songs, demos, EPs and sometimes full albums available. Just lots of music to go through, new stuff and old stuff that bands want the public to have access to.
The next example is one I found through blabberdownload, and that is record label Indie Vision Music. From the homepage there, go to the downloads tab and feast your eyes on a massive selection of tracks, exclusive EPs again a few whole albums, and most importantly, some HUGE label samplers. The Summer Slam Vol. 3 comp alone is 56 songs ranging from death metal to metalcore to emo to pop punk. Get this one quick, because it's moving towards the bottom of the list, and a few other big samplers have disappeared. The label's roster runs that same gamut, with a huge variety of genres to choose from, and they work to support Christian bands in the underground.
Speaking of record labels, search for your favorite record label's website. Very often they will have free samplers for download, a few tracks from their various bands, or links to the individual band's websites/myspace where tracks may be available. Facedown Records regularly puts out samplers of their excellent hardcore punk bands (one is available right now). They also have links to each band's myspace under the "family" tab, where you can often find more download-able tracks, or at minimum some streaming ones to check out.
On the streaming front, there are several sites that let you build a library of music to listen to online, if that is your preference. Last.fm is my personal favorite, they have a huge selection of popular and not so popular music, but don't be surprised if your favorite top 40 artist doesn't have any full tracks available to listen to. There are also some social aspects to the site, again, I'm on as righteous_slave there. And look around, some bands have songs to download through this site as well. For streaming, a close second for me is Reverbnation.com. The focus here is building up local scenes, so you can search for bands not only by genre, but by location too. Again, look for righteous_slave if you want to say hi. (Notice a trend there?) Note, neither of these sites focus on Christian music, but there is plenty to be found on them, whether you like metal, worship, or rap.
Another place to look for free stuff is mail order sites. Yes, there are still places that will ship you CDs, and as the brick and mortar stores keep closing, web stores are becoming the only place to get those shiny disks that one sticks in the computer to rip the songs to your iPod. Divine Metal Distro has a free sampler up right now, although you have to fill out your info except payment data just like a regular order, and even though it's not free, Undark.net has a 50 cent sampler available for download (come on payday!). If you're not po' (that's so poor you can't even afford the last two letters) both sites have some good specials on CD's and downloads to check out as well.
And finally, don't forget to check your favorite band's website and myspace. Frequently bands will have tracks, demos, live recordings, or b-sides up on either or both of these options.
So there you have it. Just from what's listed here, one can enjoy many hours of new and new to you music, all at no cost or possibility of imprisonment. Like I said, these sources, except where noted, provide much Christian extreme music to fill your hard drive with. If screams of "Jesus is Lord" ain't your cup of tea, that's fine. The hints listed should net fans of any genre at least a little bit of free stuff. It may not be the same songs coming out of your radio, but commercial radio seems to have really hit the skids lately, with every station, regardless of their format, apparently pulling from the same pool of around 150 songs. So, with that, I bid you happy searching and downloading.