More Free Online Music
There are many sources of music online: iTunes, Slacker, Pandora, Spotify, and plenty more. Most of the big music services follow similar business models: Free music, with ads and limits on what you can hear, or pay for more. But there are some music services that go against that grain. Read on to learn more about free online music...
Turning the Tables: Really Free Online Music
The biggest and most popular online music services buy licenses to distribute music from publishers and artists. Then they either sell you a license to listen to the music or charge you time and attention for it – you must suffer the advertisements and limitations of the service to get your ration of free music.
Slacker, for example, lets you listen to music for free, but you can't pick a specific song you want to hear. You can enter a song, an artist's name, or a musical genre, and Slacker will serve up a custom "station" of related music, with occasional commercial interruptions. A paid Slacker Radio Plus ($4/month) account eliminates the commercials, and gives you the ability to skip songs you don't like. You'll have to pony up $10/month for Slacker Premium if you want to play specific songs on demand, or play an entire album.
Pandora, Spotify and other online music streaming services have similar free and paid offerings. But GrooveShark and TurnTable.fm are two places where they do things differently.
GrooveShark is like YouTube in some ways. It’s free. Users can upload their favorite music but cannot download copies. Others can listen to streamed music immediately or bookmark it to playlists. To facilitate this “user-sourced” music acquisition model, GrooveShark has a Java application that (optionally) scans users’ hard drives for MP3 files and uploads them to the service.
GrooveShark is pretty popular. It streams over 1 billion tunes per month to 20 million users; its library holds an estimated 15 million titles. But it's not without its own share of controversy.
That “user-sourced” model keeps GrooveShark’s lawyers busy. Record companies and artists are not at all happy about users sharing music without paying them for the privilege. GrooveShark has a staggering $17 billion worth of copyright-infringement claims pending in court against it. And you thought the “Wild West” phase of the Internet was over. Like Napster, LimeWire and Kazaa, GrooveShark's days may be numbered. Enjoy it while you can.
Turntable.fm is more like a MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game). You don’t browse lists of song titles; you “walk” through music “rooms” as a digital avatar that you create. In each room, aspiring DJs take the virtual stage to spin their music. On screen, users’ avatars mill around, clap, and cheer or jeer. It looks like a cellphone video of a small concert venue.
Turntable.fm has tried to avoid copyright battles. It licensed its initial bank of music under Section 114 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. That is a U. S. law, so only U. S. based IP addresses can access Turntable.fm. The company gets millions of titles through Medianet, paying a flat fee for each song streamed by its users.
And there's always YouTube, which seems to have almost every song imaginable. A quick search for Jim Croce Time in a Bottle, Beatles Here Comes the Sun, or your favorite song will probably turn up what you want to hear. Some are uploaded by music labels, and include professionally produced videos; others by random users just have screenshots of the artist or overlays of the lyrics. Sound quality might not be excellent, but it's instant gratification, and it's free.
Innovation and creative workarounds are alive and well on the Web. So is copyright infringement. Many users don’t care about laws as long as they get their fill of music. Some are willing to pay a little get their favorite music without stepping afoul of copyright laws. Other take a mix and match approach.
What's your approach to free online music? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Aug 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- More Free Online Music (Posted: 16 Aug 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved