Being a music nut is a seriously expensive habit.
I personally limit myself to one or two new songs from iTunes each month. But I haven't limited myself to Apple's music library. Honestly, I've found it rather lacking in some areas.
So, I look for other ways to expand the collection -- and I want to do it legally. I want to support the artists who make the music; I don't want to rip them off. Even if it's just a few cents.
Here are some workarounds for expanding and exploring new music, both free and legally. No guilt.
Amazon has thousands and thousands of free songs to download -- most are from new or emerging artists, but there are also a few gems. For example, I found a Blondie recording of "Rock On" that, well, rocks -- even if it's not David Essex. I also found a pretty good Flogging Molly song that deserves a listen.
Jamendo.com is a free music archive of more than 400,000 songs and 40,000 artists that allows independent artists to share music through a Creative Commons license, which protects the artists but still allows free distribution. The site -- which offers both streaming radio and free downloads -- is available on desktops as well as mobile devices. The indie selections are varied, and there is plenty of good listening. I found a few hip-hop selections that I added to my collection.
Facebook might be an unexpected source of music, but it has its fair share. Taking up where MySpace left off, Facebook helps promote artists and many of them let fans download tracks free -- but typically they are lesser-known groups. Some artists offer a free download with a "like."; others offer links to free downloads. But, it should be noted, it's not always easy to navigate to a band's music page.
Last.fm might sound familiar if your regularly stream Internet radio, but it has free downloads as well. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "free music downloads" under the Goodies heading. If you have a last.fm account, the service already has an idea of your musical tastes and makes recommendations.
Free Music Archieve
The Free Music Archive began in 2009 as a project of WFMU, a freeform radio station. WFMU partners with other groups to collect and distribute free music under copyrights like Creative Commons. This one is a massive trove of hidden musical treats.
SoundCloud is a platform for artists to share their music and not all the music is free -- in fact most of it requires some type of payment. If you have the time and the inclinations, there are plenty of needles in this haystack. One small caveat: Not all the music on SoundCloud is technically legal, but the majority of it is -- you just can't be certain who posted a track. It's up to you to make a judgment call.
Apple releases new music on Tuesdays, and there is always at least one free song, a Single of the Week. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't, but it's a way to learn about new artists. I've definitely found some great songs among iTunes free samples.
Starbucks offers free music downloads -- both through its mobile app and with in-store "Pick of the Week" iTunes cards with promo codes. There's usually one new song a week, although the app also offers free apps and games in addition to songs.
If you are a regular Fandango user, you can download free songs with purchase of tickets -- usually a song from the soundtrack. So, for example, if you plan to see the next installment in the Hunger Games saga, you can get a song from the "Catching Fire" soundtrack.
Try going off the beaten track to check out new artists and discover new tunes. Much of it is free, and lets us expand our personal archives of music without hurting our bank accounts.