Even though RIAA executives will probably spit out their coffee if they happen upon this post, I’m going to give you a round-up of some of my favorite free (and completely legal) internet music services.

WE7:
This free site delivers free tracks from mostly unknown artists (although you will find some oldies here if you look often enough). You can play the tracks online on the site by building a playlist, download a free ad-supported track or you can pay .70 British pounds ($1.35 US as of today) to get the song ad-free. Given the unfavorable exchange rate for those of us in the U.S., this is not much of a bargain. I would take the free track. The ad is really brief and plays before the song. You have to dig, but you can find some good songs on here and you can play them in any MP3 player after you download them.

Free Stuff on iTunes
Every Tuesday, iTunes updates its free section, which typically includes the Song of the Week (different genres and mixed quality, but what do you want for free, your money back?). You’ll also usually find a Latin track and several free videos, some of which are full length TV shows, which typically sell for $1.99 US. I’ve discovered several shows this way including New Amsterdam on Fox (a show I can heartily recommend). All you need is an iTunes account and you can grab the free stuff on a weekly basis.

AOL Music Videos
You can go to the site and watch the videos, but I recommend you go to the Adobe Air Showcase and download the top 100 videos application. It’s a quick download and the Air application gives you a slick interface where you can choose the video you want to see by genre. You can even rate the videos from within the application. It’s a really nice way to watch videos and of course it changes as the Top 100 get updated.

Pandora Radio
If you haven’t discovered Pandora yet, you have to check this out. You search for a song, then Pandora finds songs that have a similar sonic footprint. It could be bands you know or bands you never heard of and it’s a great way to discover new music. You can guide Pandora by giving a song a “Thumbs up” or “Thumbs Down” and you can save different stations and share them.

Project Playlist
This is a song search engine. Enter the name of your favorite artist or a song you want to hear and Project Playlist searches the internet for instances of this song. You can play it right in the search results or you can build playlists and save and share your lists with other Project Playlist members. What’s more, you can rate others’ playlists giving the site a social element.

So check these out. If nothing else, you can feel good about sticking it to the RIAA and there isn’t a thing it can do about it. In my next post, I'll take a look at watching TV on the internet. There's lots to see for free whenever you fancy (not when it's scheduled). By the way, if you have a favorite site I haven't mentioned, please leave a comment and let me know about it.

".70 British pounds"

Thats 70p (pence) btw

Pandora is illegal in the EU :( it filters our IPs too

Sorry for the cultural insensitivity. :)

I find it surprising that Pandora is blocked in the UK. Whatever for? It is truly a great tool and doesn't infringe on copyrights because it is considered nothing more than a radio station.

it infringes on copyrights because it doesn't pay royalties.
In some countries radio stations may not have to pay royalties, in the EU they rightfully do.

Well, that's open to a big debate. They aren't selling the song or making profit from it. They are only promoting it and offering to sell it if you want to buy it. You can't actually download it. It sounds like a win-win situation to me. I personally think it's time to move beyond 20th century notions of content ownership and make the rules fit the new means of content delivery.

For once I agree with techwriter. Why should a radio station pay somebody for promoting a song for them? THEY should pay the radio stations; that's the only way they can justify the constant complaints about not getting enough air-play.

For once? Do you usually disagree with me scru? :)

yeah royalties. Many companies in europe have been fined for playing radio or cds at work without paying royalties.

I always used to think that the EU had some kind of vendetta on MS. Now I just think that they're plain nuts.

Yes techwriter, I disagree with you often.

I also think it's possible to set up a system that would work for both parties where a small company like Pandora could pay a fee based on its size and pay a percentage of sales to the record companies. There are ways to work within the system to make it happen, rather than just blocking the site altogether or suing people for playing music. Here's another viewpoint about how the big recording companies would be smart to use the internet more to their advantage, rather than seeing it as a big threat. http://tinyurl.com/6eku46

My goodness, scru, I've only posted four times so far on this blog. How often could I offend your sensibilities? :)

I pretty much disagreed with everything up until this post.

But you're still reading, so I'll take that as a good sign.

I just wanted to let you know that I checked the Pandora FAQ and they do pay into the various royalty organizations such as ASCAP and BMI, but there are other restrictions in the international licensing rules that prevent them from being available in many areas outside of the U.S. See http://blog.pandora.com/faq/#25 for more information, but it's clear they completely respect copyright, licensing and ownership.

It seems the record companies have caught with ProjectPlaylist and are suing it for copyright infringement according to this article in the NYT today:http://tinyurl.com/627mte