Posted on the 30th of August, 2007
Remember the days when you had to use P2P applications or even paid services to download MP3s? Well these days are over! Nope, this is not a spam post. Not even an advertisement or promotional post. It’s just how things are. Lately a lot of web applications come up and they do what for many failed to do in the past. Deliver free music online and deliver it on request! Say goodbye to P2P and iTunes for ever!
Like everybody, I enjoy music. I must say that I enjoy music a lot! I am one of those who know the release year of each song way back to the late 80′s. I am also one of those who know background history regarding music. For example ‘Where did this song got it’s samples from‘ or even ‘What other song does this refer to’. I think you got the point. From that aside you can tell that I am very picky with my music and when I want a song, I want it now!
Well having that in mind, getting free legal music from the net wasn’t always easy. You had to either use P2P where that is considered ‘illegal’ due to copyright violations, or pay for the song you want through online music stores such as iTunes. You can now use none of these and instead enjoy the web’s true potentials and get your music right at your feet. Many have tried this but only few are still active. The following will be a short ‘review’ of services that offer free ‘copyrighted’ music online. Below is my top 5 list of such web based applications.
5. Starting off with one of my old time favorites. The flash based ‘Pandora‘. Pandora was quite famous a few years back. You could search for an artist/song and the system would play songs similar with the artist/song you requested. Then by voting if you like it or not you could create a custom based station that played only songs that you like! Eventually Pandora would play your song request but at an unknown time. Some ‘hacks’ appeared later on to enable you to save the played songs as Mp3s. The quality was good 128kbps. Pandora eventually closed its doors to users outside the U.S. That sucked since I had donated money to the project a few years ago!
4. Moving on there is a Last.fm. With similar features with Pandora, Last.fm released their web app a couple of years ago too. Last.fm is still going strong with many features released every now and then. It’s more like a social networking site for music. For my opinion the best in that league. You can find me on Last.fm here. The music quality is good and you can find almost anything in there. You can also search for a song and get to hear a sample of that song. This is very useful if you are looking for a song but you are not really sure about the title/artist.
3. Next there is a service that come out a few months ago (April 2007), Spool.fm. This service was not quite the same with the others out there. You could listen to a song on request. This means that you could look up for a particular song and after a few songs, BAAM! You are playing that song in your browser. The quality is not as good as the previous two but still, you get music on demand! Some features that really stand out was the ability for a friend of your to listen whatever you are listening and the ability to send song links that load automatically when a friend follows it. For example you can listen to ‘Thievery Corporation – Lebanese Blonde’ by following this link. User registration is not required for listening but for creating playlists and even more advance features you had to register (for free of course).
2. Climbing up there is Anywhere.fm. This site/system was developed by a couple of MIT and UPenn graduates and it looks really promising. It’s one of the upcoming sites right now. Their interface is pretty much like iTunes and offers similar functionalities. Again they are towards the social networking idea and they seem to do it pretty good. The music quality is quite good and the interface pretty fast. The idea behind this is to carry your music library with you anywhere (hence the name)! To do so you have to upload your mp3s to their servers. They provide an iTunes uploader so you can upload your whole collection straight to their site. Alternatively you can listen to other users’ playlists of ‘Top 25′ or ‘Most Played’ songs. There is no option of searching other people’s songs but only to listen to their playlists. If discovering new music is your thing, then Anywhere.fm is perfect for you!
Reaching to perfection (at least for me) there is a tie. There are currently two websites that they offer specific features that if they are combined they will offer my my opinion the ultimate free-music-on-demand experience.
1. (Tie) At number one there is Seeqpod. Seeqpod offers true music on-demand functionalities. It simply scans the internet for uploaded mp3s and provides the user an interface to search and play at the same time. The user also has the ability to create playlists and share songs. For example this link will play ‘Sick Puppies – All the same’ where this link will play ‘Frou Frou – Let Go’. The song loading and searching is pretty fast and the quality is quite good. The one thing that made Seeqpod my favorite is their slick API. Gotta love services like that with APIs. Well, using their API this guy wrote a java client that searches Seeqpod and then downloads the Mp3 straight to your computer. So not only you can get your music on the go but you can also save it if you want to! The client is called ‘jaseeq’ and it works great! (Apart from the unnecessary ‘paper-skin’ theme). To make it even better, the guys at Seeqpod provide the embed function for both songs and playlists! For example just below this piece of text is an example of an embed playlist of mine.
(Player removed. Instead click here to view the player)
The playlist has three songs and you can choose which one you want to listen. Also they provide an option for a bigger player but this one looks nicer!
1.(Tie) Also at number one is an old site with a new name. They used to be known as ‘Blogmusik’ but now they are known as ‘Deezer‘. The site offers pretty much everything that Seeqpod does. The music quality though is not as good as Seeqpod’s. It allows you though to create smart playlists, regular playlists and full album playlists. The interface is quite easy to use and pretty fast. The best thing though that made Deezer to stand out was the embed feature they have, for both songs and playlists. Pretty much like Seeqpod. They provide custom flash players to embed to your site or blog and enable you to share music you like with friends. Deezer has the option to customize they player a bit and their player looks a bit more like iTunes with features such as ‘Cover Flow’. Below I embedded the Deezer’s playlist feature. I’ve tried to embed their player but it seems a little buggy at the moment. They just west through some upgrades and I guess they still have problems.
This brings us to the end of my free music web applications list. In this list i must mention another website that uses Google’s crawling capabilities to look for music. G2P does the looking for you, providing results from google. From there you can download mp3s stored on personal servers or even university servers, again for free!
Well there you have it. My list of free music providers. Legal, free and accessible from everywhere. I think I won’t be saving music on my computer anymore.