In October 2007 the UK alternative rock band Radiohead shocked the music industry by providing a free mp3 full album download of their new album In Rainbows. Fans were asked to donate whatever they felt the album was worth. The standard CD release didn’t follow until weeks later.
No other commercially successful band had ever done this before. Nevertheless, In Rainbows entered the UK Album Chart and the U.S. Billboard 200 at number one. It became one of the best albums of 2007 and won two Grammy Awards in 2008.
Despite this roaring success, only a few major bands followed track. Offering free single mp3s, however, has become an important marketing tool for both new and established artists. For example the Dave Matthews Band has released free tracks to catch attention and promote upcoming record releases.
Here are five mp3 albums from acclaimed artists and other great bands that you can legally download for free.
Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
The Slip was released in 2008 and continues to be available as a free download. It contains 10 tracks, available in high-quality mp3, flac, m4a or wave format. All download links are emailed upon request.
The album is licensed under a Creative Commons “attribution non-commercial share alike” license. Other artists are welcome to remix the album and share their work.
As a thank you to their fans, Coldplay started handing out a free live EP during their concerts earlier this year. Left Right Left Right Left contains nine tracks and has also been available for download through their website. After submitting details, the zip file can be downloaded directly. It contains the mp3 files and front cover album art.
In November this year the US funk band iLL-Literacy released the first chapter of their new album called iB4th1.1. The five tracks can be downloaded for free through their website. They plan to “always provide a free option for people to obtain our music, forever.” iLL-Literacy’s open-source music scheme is described in detail on theirpage.
To download right-click each song and select “Save Link As…” from the menu.
The Crimea – Secrets of the Witching Hour
The Crimea are a British indie band that has toured with several big artists, including the Stereophonics, Travis, and Kings of Leon. Their last album, Secrets of the Witching Hour, has been available for free download since 2007. It recently reached 100,000 downloads.
The zip file contains 11 tracks and a PDF with the entire album art.
Across Tundras – Herds of the Fathomless Valleys
The US rock/metal band Across Tundras released their free record Herds of the Fathomless Valleys in August this year. The zipped mp3 album is available through Mediafire. It contains six demos, three live tracks, a Pink Floyd cover, and cover album art.
In September, Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan announced that the new 44 tracks counting album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope was going to be released one song at a time starting Halloween 2009.
Each song will be made available absolutely for free, to anyone anywhere. There will be no strings attached. Free will mean free, which means you won’t have to sign up for anything, give an email address, or jump through a hoop. You will be able to go and take the song or songs as you wish, as many times as you wish.
He has yet to keep his word as not a single song has been released to date. We will keep you posted!
Do you know of any other online places where you can download free and legal music? Maybe you’re an up-and-coming band who would like to give out free samples of your work? Let us know in the comments.