Monday, October 08, 2007

Download Music! Screw the RIAA!

Despite setbacks, the thugs at the RIAA continue to chase down miscreants who choose to share music. Guess what, sports fans - there's a way to get free tunes that they can't do a damn thing about!

Live recordings, old music, new music, jazz, rock, country, world music - all free. All in formats unencumbered by "Digital Rights Management" (which is never about your rights).

Not that I'm encouraging anyone to break the law. Far from it.

Instead, hope over to and look around. This is a site dedicated to the notion, first espoused by Stewart Brand, that "information wants to be free." It is arguably the world's largest library, with movies, music, text, historical artifacts; all digitally available, all . It is an astonishing project.

Among the music archives are tens of thousands of streaming performances in the Live Music Archive, as well as recordings in other formats. Most of these are of regional bands you may have never heard of, but that doesn't mean they don't deliver the goods. A couple of my favorite discoveries include Ray's Music Exchange and Surf Coasters.

You'll also see some names you may recognize, like the Butthole Surfers, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Smashing Pumpkins, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jefferson Starship, Little Feat, Warren Zevon, Phil Lesh and Friends, and (for you old-timers like me) Country Joe McDonald and Barry Melton. There are also over 2,600 recordings of various Grateful Dead concerts.

Though tempting, don't just listen to established artists. For me the fun is discovering people I've never heard of and hearing just how many amazingly good bands there are out there.

When you finish with the concert recordings, check out some of the other music featured on the site. If you're tired of being told what to listen to by the recording industry, give an ear to some things being distributed through non-traditional channels.


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