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Getting music from the internet

Updated on January 21, 2009

What's it all about downloading music from the internet?

You are new to loading music from the internet? You only heard about Peer-to-peer, i-tunes, amazon, mp3search etc.?

This lens is discussing the basics of grabbing music from the internet and cites some resources where legal aspects are discussed.

In case you find the information inaccurate please feedback and I'll fix it. That'll be good for all of us music lovers ....

And don't forget to vote for your CD price

The lens photo has been supplied by rodrigo senna (/negativz/ on flickr)

Music community sites

HiFi and LoFi

These are one of the most genious flowers in the garden internet. There are intelligent ones where you enter your music taste and get back a variety of similar tunes that let's you wallow in your favorite music flavor and diversify your taste at the same time by proposing related music and artists. The most prominent ones are probably LastFM and Pandora. The latter being available in US only due to their specific license agreement with the music industry. These sites are delivering High Fidelity music, in return you don't have 100% control about the music you get. If you enter "winehouse" for example, you will hear Amy only from time to time.

There are other sites that feature Low Fidelity music like deezer for example. The advantage is that you can control much better what you hear, if you want to dig into the musical universe of Snoop Doggy Dogg you can select the songs of this artist you want to hear. That's handy if you want to check some music before you buy it, but as I wrote this is Low Fidelity music (that's why it is free) and even for giving ambience to your party it won't probably be sufficient.

BUT, BUT, BUT there is another pearl called IMEEM, that combines both concepts. High Fidelity for free on demand. Here I found rare pieces like the group "The Heavy", which I didn't find anywhere else (even not in peer-to-peer networks). The drawback is that many artists allow only 30 second extracts of their artwork to be played, but it's worthwhile to check it out.

AND: You can record the music. Read here how to rip music from internet streams. The ripping method doesn't let any trace.

Buying music legally

Uh - Ah

Here you go, those are itunes, virginmega and others. Here you can buy music for around 10 bucks per CD, originally accompanied by a horrible bunch of limitations along with it. They call it DRM (digital rights management), others call it pain in the ass. The files will play i.e. only on wma compatible devices and you can burn it a limited number of times only (i.e. 7 CDs allowed).

However music industry starts to get aware that easing the access to affordable music is rather increasing the sales volume and thus increasing the revenues. Read this amazing article on the implosion of the digital right management on the subject. Sales of a Pink Floyd album where rising by 350% when DRM was removed.

It seems EMI pioneers the DRM free music. At a consequence you can buy more and more unprotected music on the web and the quality has been improved as well (256Ksamples instead of 128K).

Here a short list of music providers:

Amazon: Offers DRM free MP3s to US citizens, no MP3 offer in Germany or France.

iTunes: Offers DRM protected music, but introduced iTunes Plus in 2007 together with EMI music. iTunes plus is DRM free and the music offer shall be converted step by step.

Virginmega: Offers both DRM pretected and DRM free music mainly in Europe

Starzik: French provider of both DRM free and DRM protected music. Here you find also a huge offer of French interprets.

Buying Music more or less legally

Russia rules ?

Some 10 years back, music download services in Russia emerged. They offered copyright protected music at ridiculous prices like 9 cents a song or 1,8$ a whole CD. They pretend to be legal (at least in Russia). The international music industry has tried to sue some of them, i.e. allofmp3 which finally shut down the service. But you close one and 10 new pop up. It is difficult to pursue them and the western governments have to work with political weapons to help the music industry to defend their "rights". Others pretend to pay royalties through a fund called "fair". Mp3search is one of them, check their copyright page. It is doubtful whether downloading music from there is legal, there are controversial opinions, it seems to be a huge gray zone today (see this article: are russian music sites legal). But it's handy. In the recent past some of the sites have increased the prices. If you want to give it a try, here is a list of the most popular sites:

MP3Search (my favorite one)

MP3fiesta (successor of allofmp3)

Free MP3 (monthly subscription)






BTW, paypal is not available on any of these sites, as the service provider has decided not to support these offers. But you can pay with credit cards safely it seems, as they are using international credit card payment services. So you won't let your credit card number on a russian back-street server.

What's it worth ? - Please vote here if your currency is US$

What are you ready to pay for a downloadable CD ?

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Totally free music sites

That's great

Last but not least, there is a variety of artists who are offering their music totally free. These artists are usually not so well known and want to share their creative work with a larger society. Some of them do it for altruistic reasons, others strive for a higher degree of popularity, more visitors on concerts more revenues with marketing collaterals etc.

One of the most common ones is JAMENDO, where I discovered a great artist called c. His music is so different from what I heard up to now, but it gets addictive the more you listen to it. Actually I discovered him on a radio stream and finally found the music on the Jamendo site. Jamendo uses the handy bit-torrent for the downloads.

Recently I discovered an other site with free music. It is called It is a sort of crossover between jamendo and services like imeem or myspace. It offers free mp3 of unknown artists and lets you play music (real-time) of popular artists


Kazaa, Shareaza, Limewire and Co.

Lets start with the peer-to-peer method. This is very handy and popular. You connect your computer to a virtual network, consisting of hundreds of thousands of private computers that are sharing files on their disk drives. Lets you search for music, videos etc. by title and author.

Once you download, you connect to one or more of remote computers and download chunks of the files directly from their disk drives. The fact that you connect to many clients in parallel shortens the time for the complete download.

Find here a description of the most common filesharing clients

As you connect to the network you automatically share the music you have downloaded to your computer. If it is copyrighted material, this is forbidden and pursued by the music industry. In the recent past also the download of copyrighted material without agreement of the author is declared illegal (it is like this in France and in Germany, so I assume it is the same in the US).

This means with peer-to-peer networks any handling of copyrighted material is illegal (unfortunately, because it is so easy and the repository is huge and rich).

What's it worth? - Please vote here if your currency is Euro

What are you ready to pay for a downloadable CD?

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Let me know what you think, any missing information ?

Drop me a line

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    • Logemon1 profile image

      Logemon1 6 years ago

      Nice lens. I bet you didn't know that you could get free music from iTunes and Amazon too? I talk about that in my lens How to get free music downloads>.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      @myboombox: Nice man, you didn't even read this page ... otherwise you would have seen that the russian sites are discussed here as well. There remains however a doubt whether these sites are legal if you download from outside Russia ...

    • profile image

      myboombox 8 years ago

      I prefer to download legal mp3 and save money using one of the sites compared at Legal MP3 sites chart at Squidoo