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A Broke-Ass Guide to Free Music

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Keeping up with new music can be an expensive and exhausting process. I love going to shows and hearing about new bands but sometimes it feels like you go out of town for a week and Pitchfork is predicting the second coming. Conversations morph into a bizarre form of one-up-man-ship of who heard that band first and blah blah blah. And with the SXSW festival behind us, there’s even more buzz bands to keep track of. It’s sad to admit, but most music these days is experienced through singles and soundbites. No longer do we invest in buying a full record after hearing a hit song. But the silver lining in the whole sinking-ship old guard music industry is the rate of which new music is exposed. Unknown bands can become overnight sensations with the right blog coverage. So if you’re looking to update your playlist or compile your new soundtrack for summer, here are a number of places to score free mp3s of old and new, need to know music.


This Brooklyn based music retailer has been instrumental in exposing up and coming artists since 1998. They’re one of the primary retailers for new vinyl and they host showcase events at all the major music festivals. And most importantly, they have impeccable taste. Their site features a daily rotating roster of mp3 downloads and staff picks. Dig through their entire library or sign-up for their newsletter for their recommended download each week. It’s a great springboard for new music and they also have a streaming playlist to further your music addiction.


I’ve been a longtime fan of Flavorpill to keep me up to date on all things high and low brow the internet and my home city has to offer. When they launched Flavorwire with even more daily picks to fuel my ADD, I was fully on board. And now they’re immersed in the music game with their weekly mixtape offering. Each week they offer an curated mix of fresh new music for the discerning masses to enjoy. Each mix is usually 10 songs and features a range of artists from Rufus Wainwright, Hot Chip, and even some old Kate Nash on their holiday-themed mixes. Think of it as a helpful Cliff Notes on all the new releases out there your Google reader could not possibly keep track of. The only thing that could be better is if they mailed you a cassette tape with scribbly handwriting all over it. Hey, a girl can dream.

URBN Music Mondays

Urban Outfitters tends to draw strong reactions from people, but whether or not you’re a fan of overpriced cut-offs, doesn’t change the fact that they churn out free music like their business depended on it. Every Monday, they offer 5 free songs as part of their Music Monday series. Granted it leans HEAVILY towards dancey-indie rock, but you can’t say the music isn’t fun. In addition to the Monday series, they also offer their LSTN mix which doesn’t come out as often, but features 20 free songs on each mix. What used to be a sampler you could only get with purchase is now completely free and doesn’t require you to buy ironic books about cats any more. Check out their music section for all their up to date freebies.

Oh My Rockness

OMR has been a staple on the New York and Los Angeles music scenes for some time now. What first started out as just a mailing list for smaller shows has grown into a full-on sprawling database for all things indie rock. Besides their newsletter and listing section, they also feature Oh My Rockness radio, which is a streaming playlist of up to 30 downloadable songs. The great thing about OMR is that they don’t just offer music without explanation. Each song feature a blurb about the band and why they’re worth listening to. You can tell these guys have a real passion for music and are great at exposing and pushing local bands. I could babble on about them all day, but don’t take my word for it, just listen for yourself.

For those of you looking for more obscure and older music, I also highly recommend the two mp3 blogs, One Sweet Song, and Said the Gramophone for less indie-focused tunes and more free downloads.

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Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).


  1. April 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Nice list! We also post free mp3’s on our site every day, often coming from places like The Music Slut, RCRDLBL, and Amazon (among other places).

  2. Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe
    April 7, 2010 at 8:54 am

    And this is pretty amazing too

    Free entire album downloads, I don’t speak spanish but I know a good thing when I see it