5 Groovy Sites for Free Music Downloads

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3. Mush Records

Like other independent music labels, Mush Records has artists who cover a lot of stylistic ground (they describe their range as "electronic instrumental, underground hip-hop, downtempo, abstract hip-hop, experimental, indie-rock, jazz-based grooves, turntablist compositions, electronic pop, saturated folk, left-field, dreamy stuff, more versions of hip-hop, and on and on"). And Mush is not afraid of giving away music and videos for free, since the company expects visitors' interest to be piqued enough for them to spend a few dollars on a CD.

Unlike Epitonic, Mush Records separates the areas where you learn about artists from where you download media. On the one hand, it makes music discovery a little less organic. On the other hand, the site's extensive archive of articles written about their artists gives a more textured look at their work. Either way, a collection of 70-plus free tracks is nothing to sneeze at.

4. iSound

If you're a musician, iSound seems like a dream come true: The site provides tools for artists to create their own pages to promote and sell their music online. If you're a music fan, iSound seems like a potential nightmare--you'd expect to have to wade through plenty of questionable material to find one gem.

Both of those perceptions are accurate, but what separates iSound from similar online services are three features that let music fans quickly zero in on what they like. First is a search tool that finds bands based on their similarity to three artists you enter; second is a list of the 200 most popular tracks; and third is an icon that tells you if a band has any downloadable MP3s before you click through to their page. Using these tools I easily racked up more hits than misses.

5. The Live Music Archive

The top two reasons I love going to concerts are the feeling of camaraderie (I'm surrounded by people who are into the same music, though I run the risk of a Coke spilling on my shirt) and the chance to hear my favorite songs performed outside of a studio setting, sometimes arranged in new and creative ways. The next best thing to being there is a concert recording, but relatively few bands make recordings available for sale, and many bootlegs are kind of iffy soundwise.

Then there are the bands that don't mind exploring the gray area in between. The Live Music Archive features high-quality concert recordings from bands that are cool with noncommercial distribution of their performances. Dip into the extensive roster, and you'll find names like Robyn Hitchcock, Billy Bragg, and the godfathers of sanctioned bootlegs, the Grateful Dead.

This story, "5 Groovy Sites for Free Music Downloads" was originally published by PCWorld.

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