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Free Music in a Capitalist Society

This is the month of quickly made and usually quickly broken New Year’s resolutions. Diets, addictions and hopeful changes to our “bad” habits are filling our conversations as we begin the new year by trying (or pretending to try) to be better people than we were just a couple of weeks ago. For our digital […]

Rolling Stone IN Jan 19, 2009

This is the month of quickly made and usually quickly broken New Year’s resolutions. Diets, addictions and hopeful changes to our “bad” habits are filling our conversations as we begin the new year by trying (or pretending to try) to be better people than we were just a couple of weeks ago. For our digital generation, there is one common resolution that could be on our New Year’s list, but almost probably isn’t: Stop stealing music.

I’m sure many of us can raise a guilty hand for getting music for free when it’s not supposed to be ”“ I mean, we are now in the age of 120GB iPods, containing more tracks than you could stuff into a truck if they were records. It also needs to be said that sharing music online has been going on for a very long time, and as generations before us have fought for the right to be free, we seemingly just want everything for free. While we are told that downloading music is illegal, there is a problem underlying the current war for free music as little is done to discriminate between legal and illegal file sharing.

The conventional way to sell music by independent artists and record labels has followed a basic formula, whereby the usual end result after manufacturing the CDs and promoting their artist and products to the max, is money lost. Now mercifully, there is a new breed of virtual record labels called Netlabels, which are redefining the independent music culture and distribution. Unbelievably, a new subculture is developing around the concept of online labels legally distributing legal and free music via the internet.

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These “not for profit” Netlabels are dedicated to providing good quality, non-commercial, MP3 format music that spans a multitude of genres and styles. Artists are making music for the world to hear which carries a zero price tag, which is defining a cultural economy and identity for independent music distribution by operating under the ideology that money need not come between music and its audience.

I know that you are probably thinking that most of the music must be crappy if labels are giving it away (it’s funny how the mind works), but to be honest there’s some great stuff out there, and its a lot of fun trawling through these virtual record boxes and finding some real unknown gems.

By evading the financial burdens that shroud CD production and distribution, these pioneers are cutting an interesting new path which is well worth the download time, and just to make it easier for you to turn over that new leaf, here is the definitive list of resources to help you tap into the best of what’s out there ”“ legal and free.

www.minimalnet.org
Minimalnet is an independent blog, packed to the brim with free electronic dance music.

http://netlabels.org
This website contains a definitive directory of netlabels, and is a music culture community.

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www.oddiooverplay.com
Fresh, unknown and talented artists who all support the concept of music for free.

www.novinyl.net
Over six hours of electronic music is available here.

www.muzic.com
A network sourcing the best MP3s that are available as free and legal downloads.

www.comfortstand.com
Comfort Stand Recordings’ releases contain all the artwork and liner notes, and they cover many different styles of music.

http://goodnetlabels.blogspot.com
Tons of netlabels offering free legal downloads covering many genres.

www.archive.org/details/netlabels
Contains catalogues of many netlabels

www.kahvi.org
This website has a mission: “To gather and provide free electronic grooves, trusting in the fact that sound has the power to make the world a better place”. Sounds very sweet, and there’s a lot of music on the site.

http://beta.legaltorrents.com/netlabel-music
This is an open-license, digital media community, containing not just music but art too. This website also provides sustainability to its content creators.

www.purevolume.com
Pure Volume promotes its emerging artists by not only giving the music for streaming, but by also giving their artists a profile page containing bios, photos, events and updates. Not all the music is downloadable, but they’re definitely worth at least a listen.

http://hypem.com
This website follows music blog discussions from people who are so passionate about music that they write about the music they love in the hope that we might love it too. What a great idea!

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