Few options exist when it comes to free and legal one-stop shops for MP3 downloads. But thanks to the newly launched Free Music Archive -- bankrolled by the New York State Music Fund -- that void is being filled.
Curated by renowned independent radio powerhouses WFMU (Jersey City), KEXP (Seattle), and KBOO (Portland, OR), the FMA provides public access to a treasure trove of rare, live, and new material by bands in a way that's "designed for the age of the internet." Think of the FMA as the blog version of each station's record library, but you get to play DJ!
While you won't find that new 311 MP3, you can download Daniel Johnston's Phoning It In, a live set that was recorded over the phone in 2005. Or, try out the SPIN-approved Vivian Girls' live set from their performance at WFMU.
All tracks have been pre-cleared for download, sampling, and remixing via Creative Commons licenses (trust us, you don't want us to explain what that means), so there's no need to worry about the RIAA's lawyer paying you a visit. Plus, you don't have to register to download, and the absence of advertising makes the entire experience incredibly friendly.
Heck, the site is so artist-first in its approach that if you like a song you can "tip" a performer, sending a donation directly to them via PayPal. Now that's purrty sweet.
Head over to the Free Music Archive and have a listen. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The site is currently in Beta, so expect loads of new features coming soon!