How To Find Legal Free Music Downloads & Create Playlists From Streaming Music [Sound Sunday]
Sound Sunday has been our outlet for sharing legal free music downloads once a week since April 2010.
Over the years, we have gathered a few loyal fans and we appreciate your support. Over the past year, I have shifted the format in hopes it would attract more readers. I focused on popular music genres, compiled music collections for specific needs, and added a playlist for each edition. Apart from the occasional spike in traffic and the extremely rare evergreen post, I failed to consistently hit a nerve and build a larger following.
The reality is that the Internet has changed. Bandwidth has increased globally, music streaming services make it easy to access your favorite tunes wherever and whenever you want , many services offer radio like streams or curated playlists , and much of it can be had for free. Downloading music has become a thing of the past.
Thus it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to retire Sound Sunday. For those of you who came here for the music downloads, I will use this last post to share the tools I have used to compile Sound Sunday.
Finding Free Music
When I started this column in 2010, I had doubts whether I would be able to find a sufficient number of legal music downloads to fill a post each and every week. I started with 5 single MP3 downloads. When I did the first album post at the end of May 2010, I thought I’d never find enough material for a second edition. I was so wrong. Today, my archives are chock-full with album bookmarks that I will never share.
When I previously shared my resources, I wrote that my primary resource for finding free music albums was Twitter. That’s still a great resource for randomly discovering new music, one I’ve hardly used recently. Weekly NoiseTrade emails and recommendations have remained a steady source of inspiration. Since I’ve changed the column to address specific genres and topics, I have relied almost exclusively on Bandcamp.
The reason Bandcamp has developed into such an important resource is because most artists who offer free music downloads can be found here. Even when I saw an album on NoiseTrade, I’d usually find the artist on Bandcamp as well. Apart from being a great resource for discovering music, Bandcamp offers great streaming widgets and makes it easy to support artists with a donation.
The best way to discover specific music, is to browse Bandcamp by tags. In the beginnings, when I tried to share a mix of genres, I occasionally used that to round off an edition. More recently, this has been my primary way of compiling albums around a topic or genre.
Once you go to a tag page, you’ll find a long list of albums, which you can sort by popularity or newness. For Sound Sunday, I would look at the first page for both sorting options, drag out free albums, which I would then review and process further. Albums that met my overall quality criteria, but didn’t quite fit, would go into my bookmarks.
Tags can also be found at the bottom of an album page. When I wanted to build an edition around a specific mood or genre, I often started with one album that had inspired the idea and used its tags to find similar albums from other artists. At the very bottom of the album page, you can also see an album’s licensing. If you need creative commons licensed music for a creative project , this and tags (if the artist thought of it) is the best way to find it on Bandcamp.
The idea of compiling a Sound Sunday playlist had been around for a very long time. Time and time again I went out to find a service that would allow me to do that online. I finally discovered Minilogs.
Minilogs allows you to add streaming audio from a number of sources, including YouTube, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp, to compile a streaming playlist. It didn’t immediately work with Bandcamp, but the developers were very helpful in getting it up and running. You can find all Sound Sunday playlists here.
What makes Minilogs so incredibly useful, is its browser extension. Once it’s installed, navigate to a page that contains the streaming audio clip you’d like to add to your playlist, click the extension, create a new log (playlist) or save the link to an existing one.
After you made the log public, you can share it, which includes code to embed the playlist on other pages.
That’s It For Sound Sunday
Now you know how Sound Sunday came together each and every week. Thank you for your support over the past years. We will continue to cover music and I hope we’ll see you around to enjoy it. If you have any requests for what kind of content you would like to see, please fill the comments with suggestions and feedback.
What made you come to Sound Sunday and what kind of music compilations would you appreciate in the future?
Featured Image Credits: Goodbye by woodleywonderworks via Flickr