The Internet has brought plenty of new ways to discover free music downloads. Some are completely legit, others not so much, and a fair few of these methods are positively illegal. That doesn’t stop people using them though. Thankfully there are enough that reside on the right side of the law to mean those of us who don’t want to cross the line don’t have to. One of which is Freemake Music Box.
Freemake is a private company whose mission statement is to “provide free alternatives to popular paid software.” As well as the Freemake Music Box detailed in this article, Freemake offers a Video Converter (featured on MakeUseOf already), a Video Downloader, and an Audio Converter.
All of the software developed by Freemake is absolutely free and without limitation, though there are plans afoot to make money through advertising. Freemake’s freeware is only currently available for Windows (XP and up) but Mac versions are being planned after the company received numerous requests to that effect.
Freemake Music Box
While many people are happy to obtain music from the Internet in less-than-legal ways, there are an increasing number of legal streaming services — MOG, Rdio – that mean you no longer have to do so. Sure, it means you never actually own the music outright, but as you can play it whenever (and often wherever) you want to that shouldn’t matter too much.
Unfortunately many of these services aren’t free, or they have free versions available which limit the features and usability. So what we need is a free, legal streaming service which offers everyone its full range of features. “Grooveshark!” I hear you all crying in unison. Grooveshark is one option, but it’s currently being sued by the major record labels and could disappear at any time.
Which means Freemake Music Box is a good tool to have in your arsenal.
When you load Freemake Music Box you’re presented with a simple search-powered music player. You type in whichever song, artist, or album you’d like to listen to, and you’ll be presented with a list of the top results. You can then play one of the options or click on Tracks, Albums, or Artists to narrow the results.
Freemake Music Box offers the usual Shuffle and Repeat options, and you can also create playlists. By right clicking on a track and choosing ‘Add track to playlist’, or by clicking the ‘+’ sign next to a track, the selected song will be saved to your current playlist for future reference.
As Freemake Music Box sources its music from YouTube many of the songs will be accompanied by the relevant video playing in the bottom left-hand corner of the application. You can choose whether to keep these on or turn them off. Turning them off will keep the audio playing while removing all visual traces.
It should be noted that videos which have ‘Embedded Disabled’ on YouTube will not show up in Freemake Music Box.
One annoying feature of the app is the inability to manipulate the video at all. You have to use the player itself to Play, Pause, Skip, and Change Volume. It would also be great to be able to click through to YouTube if you wanted to play the video in fullscreen or gather more information on it (especially in the case of live videos).
Hit and Miss
Freemake Music Box is a little hit and miss at times, purely because it’s relying on YouTube for its content. In the screenshot above you can see that I’m trying to play The Day That Never Comes by Metallica. Unfortunately Freemake Music Box is playing me Heart Skips A Beat by Olly Murs. Because the two songs are similar, obviously.
That’s a pure oddity and not something that will happen often. However, Freemake Music Box will throw up live versions of songs on a regular basis. Which is fine, but not when you’re expecting to hear the recorded version. The good news is there are very few artists who won’t return any results; as long as they’re on YouTube they’re on Freemake Music Box.
We’ve established Freemake Music Box isn’t perfect, but thankfully it’s evolving. And rapidly. Features promised for the not-to-distant future include a Web-based version, playlist syncing, mobile syncing, versions for iPad and Android, and new sources of content. Some of these could turn Freemake Music Box from a promising alternative to a must-have app.
Freemake Music Box is a great addition to any music lover’s arsenal of online tools. It offers a simple user interface, some great features (with more being added in the future), and artists which may not have made their music available through other sources.
It won’t be replacing Spotify for me quite yet, but it offers an alternative. And it’s completely free. If the sources of music can be increased in number then the occasional oddity Freemake Music Box throws up should disappear. Even in its present form it comes recommended, but you may want to simply cut out the middleman and just use YouTube instead.
If you give Freemake Music Box a try then please let us know what you think below.