As you know, the Internet is a great resource for finding new tunes to listen to. Lots of people use a legitimate service like the iTunes store or Rhapsody to get their music fix. Most people, however, use illicit P2P programs like BearShare, LimeWire or the like. While most of those P2P apps are great for searching for specific tunes, most drop the ball when it comes to just browsing for new stuff.
And that’s where “music blogs” come in. Now, there a ton of “blogs about music” out there, but when I talk about “music blogs”, I’m specifically referring to sites that offer links to download either full albums, singles, remixes, or rare tracks. Perhaps I should call them “MP3 blogs” instead. In any case, the blogs I’m referring to aren’t offering music by struggling artists you’ve never heard of. You’ll recognize most of the band names you see on all these blogs. So fire up your browser and check some of these sites out:
New Music Lists – Offers a wide variety of music for download, from pop to rock to alternative\indie to dance to country to R&B. Strangely, the site never offered Christian music before, but they began offering some holiday-themed Christian music just before Christmas of last year. For some strange reason they’ve kept it up, offering 2 or 3 “Christian Pop” albums a week. Although I don’t have anything against “Christian pop” (aside from most of it just being bad music), it’s just weird to illegally download music that celebrates the God that said “thou shall not steal”. Anyway, New Music Lists offers optional memberships that cost a few dollars; a few of their hottest releases will be restricted to “members only” for the first few days.
All New Releases – Offers a range of music, with a smaller scope than New Music Lists. This blog focuses mainly on rock, alternative and indie music. It’s updated frequently, too. Note: in most cases, you’ll find the download links in each entry’s “comments” section. If you find an album you like, click on the “Comments’ link at the bottom of the entry; the download URL will be the first comment.
Retro Remixes – This site is dedicated to remixes of disco and 80s music. Most entries are dedicated to a particular song or artist, and you’ll find a list of songs included in the download under each entry. The site usually offers a hodgepodge of remixes – under the entry for Madonna’s “Angel”, for instance, you’ll find contemporary official remixes as well as later professional remixes and amateur remixes. Note that this site has a Last.fm stream that plays automatically when you open the page; yeah, I think it’s annoying too.
Retro Music Snob – This site offers hard-to-find remixes and tracks from the 80s and 90s, as well as the occasional 60s or 70s hit as well. The guy that runs it also likes cover songs, so you’ll also find a lot of current\recent bands covering music from the 60s to the 90s, too. So whether you want a bootleg of Joe Jackson live in San Francisco in 1979, a rare b-side from The Clash, or a copy of Soul Asylum covering “Juke Box Hero”… you’ll find it here!
RetroWonderland – This cat’s all about New Wave and British dance pop. Whether it’s remixes of artists you know (Erasure, Depeche Mode), artists you’d completely forgotten about (Hazell Dean), or artists you’re still trying to forget (Cathy Dennis), this site has you covered.
Lost in the 80s – Most of blogs mentioned thus far aren’t much in the way of “web sites”. Most are not much more than page after page of hyperlinks, really. Lists of albums and singles to download as it were. “Lost in the 80s” is a bit different in that they offer commentary about most of the songs they link to. Although they don’t have nearly as much to download as the other sites, it’s interesting to see what they think of a particular song, their take on what the song means, or what they were doing when the song came out.
Born Again 80s – Offers new remixes and mash-ups of your favorite 80s songs, as well as a steady stream of “official” remixes of songs from the Reagan era. The site is the first I’ve ever seen to proudly offer a download of the “Original 12″ Remix Version” of Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride”… so you know they have a sense of humor! Lotsa black 80s music too, like Grandmaster Flash, Eddy Grant and Musical Youth.
The New Wave Time Machine – Offers “rare, out-of-print, and promo-only releases from more obscure acts from the late 1970s through the early 1990s”. The site has a great collection of music, mostly British New Wave, and mostly really rare “official” remixes (as opposed to “amateur remixes”) and bootleg\radio recordings. Like “Lost in the 80s”, this site offers commentary on each album\single\track offered for download, but NWTM usually has much more concise entries than LIT80s.
Digital Eargasm – Offers a lot of current dance tunes and remixes.
Keyser Sose Blog – Offers mostly full albums to download from a variety of artists, really. Unlike the 80s blogs or dance blogs, Keyser Sose doesn’t seem to have a particular ethos… they guy just puts stuff out there for people to download, from Deborah Harry’s newest album to The Strokes to Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love”, this guy seems to have a bit of everything. Note that the “Keyser Sose Blog” is done by a Spanish speaker; although most of the entries are for English language albums, you’ll see the occasional Latin American artist thrown in there too. Since each entry is basically just an album name, the album art, and a track listing, the ability to read Spanish is not necessary to enjoy this blog.
So – your next question might be… How do these sites get away with posting all this free music? Well, the trick is that none of these blogs actually host the files themselves. When you click the “download” link at any of these sites, you’re transferred to a file-sharing site like zShare or RapidShare. I don’t know if this gives them some legal leeway or not. They can claim that their sites aren’t actually hosting anything. Perhaps some of them claim that users just send them links and they’re just posting them in a public forum. I don’t know. But what I do know is that this is a bit safer than getting your music from a P2P network, although there is one caveat: many of these file-sharing sites (RapidShare, especially) have download limits for free (“non-membership”) users. Rapidshare, for example, offers “premium accounts” with no download limits and “free accounts” that limit your downloads to 50 or 75MB per hour. So when you visit these sites, try to prioritize your downloads, since you might have to wait a few hours to download more than one album.
Lastly, be sure to check out the links offered by each of these sites. There are thousands of these types of “music blogs” out there, so if the ones I’ve listed aren’t to your taste, you can almost assuredly find something you’d like from these blogs’ blogroll.