I don't have time to look for free MP3s--defined as downloadable music that is free and clear and legally obtained from the struggling musicians who make it. My ethical make-up gives me automatic guilt whenever I even consider "stealing" music from sites that make it available: you know who you are. I admit to downloading some very obscure albums that are completely out of print and impossible to find, but even those I completely stumbled upon accidentally while linking around the Net (a practice that has landed me in many unusual Internet places over the years).
So how to find new music? I've tried Pandora and other similar services over the years. I'm glad they exist because it's nice to sit at the computer and have some humanly inspired algorithm figure out what I might like to hear. But after about 20 minutes, I get tired of this narrow musical approach. I miss the days of college radio dj-ing where seemingly everything independently produced was available to pick and choose from according to my whims, curiosity or desperation when I ran out of ideas during the last hour of my shift. What a treasure trove that "recommended for heavy rotation" record shelf was every week.
At home, we have an extensive CD (and LP) collection but it's frozen in time up to the 90s, when we pretty much stopped buying CDs. This was a joint decision involving lack of funds, lots of moves across cities and states, and general disgust with the music industry for the past 20 years. Still, we never obtained MP3 players due to an aversion to ear buds and disappointment with the quality of sound that the majority of MP3s make when amplified. Kids, it's true; they're tinnier than a CD, which is darn tinny to begin with.
So lately I've been collaborating with some locals who have done a huge amount of work gathering free MP3s on their music sites. These song selections have been culled by a variety of musicians and music lovers for your listening pleasure. And the music-makers have all granted permission to download them for free, in the hope that you'll like discovering a new band and perhaps purchase some of their music. You never know.
Here's a list of MP3 sites with new and old music to stream or download. It is the dawning of the digital age of Aquarius:
Superfan 2011 - Are you a superfan? Me too! A new download every day with a helpful blurb which is doubly helpful since the selection is super eclectic.
Superfan 2010 - 365 days of downloads--a plethora of riches.
Superfan 2009 - I don't even remember 2009. Perhaps this site will help.
You may "friend" Superfan Musiclover on Facebook for your daily downloads. I really think you should. Seriously, if you read this site at all, you might as well friend that site, hint, hint.
MP3 Jackpot features weekly musical winners, like a game show where no one loses.
Music2Eleven! has good taste that tastes good. Examples: Sigur Rós - Olsen Olsen and Raveonettes - Aly, Walk With Me.
Music2ten - 365 downloads from 2010. Geez, there's gotta be something in there you'll like.
PublicDomain2ten showcases excellent public-domain classics from the golden era of jazz, blues and Americana. That's right--scratchy old music that started it all: Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington, Sam Butler, Scott Joplin. I don't even know where to find most of this stuff otherwise. This is an essential music site for historians and old-timey music fanatics.
Din2ten is a mass collection of MP3s picked by Eric Din, who plays guitar and sings in The Uptones. He's been a professional musician since before the Internet. We must listen to him.
And if you want to stream and find music by genre, go to MP34U and pick a channel. It'll grab an entire selection of music from various sites for your enjoyment and edification. I'm listening to the "78s" channel as I type this. Leadbelly's Where Did You Sleep Last Night? is scritchy-scratching its way out of my computer speakers, reminding me that everything old is new again.