Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Free Legal Mp3 Downloads

Free Legal Mp3 Downloads

When I went in search of free legal mp3 downloads, my Google searches were initially frustrated by the fact that, in large measure, the sites which have captured terms such as "free mp3s" are fraudulent, and do not have what they purport to offer.

Having gotten frustrated by clicking my was through advertising hell in the search for non-existent mp3s, I blogged about the problem, and got help from people who were kind enough to send me links. Some of the links were, of course, broken, that being the nature of the Internet, but with help from the wider world I did make progress on the free mp3 problem.

I found and have sampled the large archives of the site WWW.SOUNDCLICK.COM, which hosts the mp3s of many bands and artists. Some of the music is available for free download and some for sale. Every imaginable kind of music is on the site, with the quality ranging from the exceptionally good to the laughably bad.

Some of the free mp3s can be downloaded without formalities but some require you to go through a free signup procedure, for which you will need to supply a valid email address.

My take on SoundClick.com is that it would be the natural site of choice for any band which is still at the "aspirational" level, as it's clearly a band-centered site, with bands able to post (for download or for sale) not just their mp3s but a bunch of other stuff as well, for example information about the band and song lyrics.

Another site with a large archive of free downloadable mp3s is mp3-center.org. If you go there, you can enter the archive by clicking on the link, top left, which says FREE MP3 ARCHIVE. I downloaded a sample mp3 just to make sure that this site works, but at present have no idea how to go about finding what is good, bad or indifferent in any of the alphabetically-ordered pages.

The site gives you no guidance.

Intelligent guidance is provided by webmaster Brown of www.ecbrown.org/textlinks.html, where there are links to online mp3s.

Following one of these links I downloaded an entire album, WARM COURSING BLOOD by Ian Nagoski, electronic music which is probably not to everyone's taste.

Since Brown is enthusiastic about this artist, I thought I'd give the album a couple of whirls to see if it would grow on me, but so far it hasn't.

I downloaded Nagoski's album from the spartan page at

phobos.server.com/ian_nagoski/

To circumvent frustrating forays into the wild unknown, Brown's page would be better than either SoundClick.com or mp3-center.org.

Because I am visually impaired, I was very interested when someone sent me a link to the archive of audio books that Project Gutenberg has available for free download. The link is:

www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:The_Audio_Books_Project

Here there is a stash of free audio books.

The Gutenberg page gives thanks to another site, www.audiobooksforfree.com.

The link for that is simply:

www.audiobooksforfree.com

This site has free downloads, and I downloaded ALICE IN WONDERLAND, available as a set of eleven files at 8 kbs/sec. This is very poor wound quality, but the site deems it to be "bearable," and, after I had gotten used to the badly-tuned-radio effect and the background hum, I found "bearable" to be the case.

If you want better quality audio, you have to pay for it, either paying by the download (prices seem to range from about US $2 to US $7, depending on what quantity you want), or by paying US $100 for a one-year membership which gives you the right to better-quality audio downloads, or by splashing out and spending US $120 to buy the site's entire audio archive in mp3 form on DVD.

If you're strapped for cash, this site will let you have free audio books, books which have been read by human beings who know what they are doing. Even the free downloads do not carry audio ads. And some of the free stuff is at better quality, for example some stuff about Chinese legends, WHITE COW, for which the download was in the form of mp3 files at 16 kb/sec, which sounds a bit like someone speaking in a marble bathroom, which the site bills as "tolerable," and which is certainly much better than the ALICE quality.



Whether you go for the free option or opt to pay for better-quality stuff, I recommend this site.



When you first attempt to download something, which you do by clicking on the button for agreeing to the copyright terms, you are confronted by a signup form. But for this you only need to invent two pieces of information: a username and a password.

If you want to provide extra information, such as your true name, email address and telephone number and so forth, then the site gives you that option, but doing so is not compulsory.

Having gotten this far, I'm satisfied with progress to date, particularly with the discovery of the online audio books. I wasn't thinking about audio books when I went looking for free mp3s but, now that I've been directed to where they've been hiding out, I'm glad to have found them.

My thanks to all those people who generously sent me links, including those whose links, unfortunately, did not pan out.

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