Downloading free and legal MP3s

MP3 made headlines a few years ago as the technology that would threaten the music industry and deprive artists of their livelihood. While Napster and other utilities have been thwarted by the big record companies and industry bodies, a growing community of musicians have embraced MP3 as a way of distributing their music online. With the international accessibility of the Internet and the quality of MP3 compression, musicians that would otherwise find it either inhibitively expensive, or just plain impossible to have their music heard, can now reach an audience of literally millions. Arguably this could be an even greater threat to the music industry, as it places the power of artistic control and international distribution in the hands of the musicians, possibly writing record companies out of the equation altogether!

MP3 Sites

There are a lot of sites that effectively operate as online record labels. Generally these are commercial in nature, and not particularly discriminating about their musical content. Musicians can upload their songs, usually with a graphic and some relevant information, and then their music is available to anyone who cares to download it. is a good place to start if you are looking for new music that's freely available online. There are charts, reviews, forums, chat and an online shop to help you find the music that interests you most. All the music is free for download or streaming in either MP3 or Windows Media format. There is a lot of Australian content, although it is not limited to Australian music.

Vitaminic is a site that provides a similar service to other MP3 sites, in that artists can make their music available for download, but they can also sell it online- which means you, as a listener, may have to pay for some of the songs, although you can preview them first! You can browse by genre, popularity or association.

The grandfather of MP3 sites, is home to millions of MP3 files- all legal and most are free to download. While many artists left after their legal agreement was modified, giving the company more rights to the music than was considered reasonable, the site continues to grow. One of the reasons for this is possibly its CD burning service, where you can build your own compilation of tracks from the site. It's a huge site, so be prepared to spend a lot of time wading through stuff that you don't particularly like!

Musical Communities

In contrast to the MP3 sites, which generally provide a symbiotic relationship between the artists and the site owners, other Web sites are maintained by musicians for a community of musicians. These labours of love often revolve around a particular genre of music, which can be very specific to a particular subculture. Sometimes, however, they can be an eclectic mix of musicians who share nothing in common except the software they use.

This site is dedicated to electronic music in all its manifestations. From Industrial to House, Jungle to Ambient, it's all here and it's all free for download. Widely considered one of the better sites, ElectronicScene is supported by the artists, who by and large pay for their hosting. The music is generally of a high standard as a consequence, and the site is packed with articles, reviews and news for both musicians and listeners alike.dnbscene.comThis is an example of a genre specific site geared towards musicians. Targeting producers of Drum n Bass, the site enables its users to upload and download each other's tracks. It provides a forum for comment, critique and collaboration, where a community of musicians can share their techniques as well as their tunes.

Being one of the most popular pieces of musical software on the market, the FruityLoops "Loop Talk" forum has become a very diverse discussion board for people who use the FruityLoops software for their music, even if the music is as diverse as gothic rock and electronica.

Some other sites where you can download free and legal MP3s include:

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Daniel Potts

PC World
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