In the midst of all this talk about the price changes for iTunes, music costs at Amazon and Wal-Mart, etc., I thought it would be nice to cover the Free Music Archive, which recently launched in beta. A project of radio station WFMU, the Free Music Archive currently has over 5000 tracks and is available at http://freemusicarchive.org/ .
A lot of the front page is bloggish but look on the right hand nav for a list of recently-added songs (with RSS feed), a list of the most interesting songs (again with RSS feed) and a list of genres for browsing, from country to international to jazz to pop. The subgeneres on some of these listings were amazing — Sludge Rock? Post-Punk? No Wave?
At any rate song listings include artist, track, album, and genre. There’s a button for quick play of the song and another for quick download. You can register on the site but you don’t have to.
As for the music itself — well, it’s all over the map. Some of it I listened to and left after a few seconds, some I hung around for a few minutes, and some of it I quite liked and downloaded. I enjoyed Max Tundra, So Cow, Hayvanlar Alemi (Ever listened to guitars that just made you feel happy? “Bahar Patlatan”.), 8 Bit Weapon, and Edith Frost. I’m sure I’m not even scratching the surface here — there’s a lot of music I didn’t even get to because I wanted to finish this writeup.
Bands have their own pages, with biographical information, tour dates (for some), discography information, external links, registered users who are fans, etc. Some bands have just one song available while others have albums and albums and albums. (A button on the band page lets you play all the songs on the page; handy.) Songs also have their own pages; the page for Al Duvall’s “Poppycock & Tommyrot” contains language, bitrate, and genre information as well as the Creative Commons license under which you can use/reuse the music.
I could try to give you some kind of summary here, but I think the fact that it took me over two hours to do this entry because I kept finding more artists to listen to pretty much says it all. Take a day off from iTunes and come over here and explore. Recommended.