Music Downloads - Street Legal

When I first created this page in 2005, it was almost impossible to legally download music tracks that was not encumbered with user-unfriendly Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology. This has since changed. Mainstream music download sites, such as iTunes Music Store now offers unencrypted files in a number of popular formats (e.g.: Mp3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC).

In 2011, this page has outlived its original purpose. However, I still want to keep track over alternative and legal sources of music for download, so I still maintain this page, now as a catalogue of independent sources for music. So please keep those URLs coming!.

My criteria for including a web site in the lists on this page are as follows:

Given these criteria, I will not list Torrent tracker sites, as it is obvious that they are mostly used for illegal file sharing. Nor will I list some well-known Russian download sites that sells tracks by top-10 international pop and rock stars at a fraction of the price tracks by those stars sells for anywhere else. While those Russian sites may be legal in the sense that their operation is based on a loophole in Russian copyright law, it is obvious that they haven't secured the consent of the relevant copyright owners, so I will not list them.

Please help prove that selling DRM-free music is a sustainable business model by supporting those music stores and those artists that make their music available in user-friendly, DRM-free formats.

The listings are split into four categories:

  1. Commercial Sites (where you pay)
  2. Gratis Music (where you don't)
  3. Artist Sites (some artists share)
  4. Blasts From the Past (really old stuff)

Below is the sites I am currently aware of. New sites appear constantly. I'll try to keep up and to list the cream of the crop below. To check for the latest legal MP3 download sites, try to google for "legal mp3".

I've added some factual notes to each site, to the best of my ability and knowledge. If you know about more sites that should be listed, or you believe that my factual notes on a site (payment, formats, DRM, etc. on a site is wrong, please drop me a line.

Commercial Sites

The section lists sites that charge for downloads. I.e. they are like the larger commercial online music stores (e.g. iTunes, Napster and MusicMatch), except that at least some of the files they sell are not DRM-encumbered.

2L: http://2l.no
Musical styles: Classical, jazz, traditional
Comment: Streaming previews available. Some gratis samples.
Payment: Payex and major credit cards
Typical cost: From US$ 22/album
Formats: FLAC, WAW, MP3
DRM: No
Ambient.us: http://www.ambient.us/shop/
Musical styles: Ambient
Payment: Paypal and major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 9.00/album
Formats: MP3 (VBR)
DRM: No
Bleep: http://bleep.com/
Musical styles: Electronica
Payment: Paypal, major credit cards, SMS
Typical cost: US$ 1.35/track, US$ 9.99/album
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
e|classical: http://www.eclassical.com/
Musical styles: Classical
Comment: Music from major labels, including Bis, Hänssler, Naxos, Vox
Payment: Paypal and major credit cards
Typical cost: From US$ 0.49/track, US$ 5.99/album
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
eFolkMusic: http://efolkmusic.org/
Musical styles: Folk, celtic, roots
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.98/track
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
eMusic: http://emusic.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 9.99/month for 40 downloads
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Japanfiles: http://www.japanfiles.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Music from Japan
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.99/track, US$ 9.99/album
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Karma download.com: http://www.karmadownload.com/
Musical styles: Dance, alternative, rap
Comment: UK based site fronting a number of independent record labels and artists.
Payment: Paypal and major credit cards, SMS (UK only)
Typical cost: UK£ 0.89/track, UK£ 7.99/album
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Last.fm: http://last.fm/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Mainly a web radio, it also is a portal to sites where featured acts sell files
Payment: -
Typical cost: -
Formats: -
DRM: Up to artist
LiveDownloads: http://www.livedownloads.com/
Musical styles: Jazz, funk, jam
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 9.95/album
Formats: MP3, FLAC
DRM: No
Magnatune: http://magnatune.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Payment: Paypal and major credit cards
Typical cost: Up to buyer (Suggested US$ 8/album)
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC
DRM: No
MP3.com; http://mp3.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Used to be a great MP3-resource, but is now mostly a portal to other webstores
Payment: -
Typical cost: -
Formats: WMA, AAC, RAX. MP3
DRM: On almost everything
Mp3.Mondomix: http://mp3.mondomix.com/
Musical styles: Ethnic, world music
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.99/track, US$ 9.99/20 tracks
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
MP3tunes: http://mp3tunes.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.88/track, US$ 8.88/album
Formats: MP3 (192 kbps)
DRM: No
Mperia: http://mperia.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Sells work for independent artists. Artist keep 70 % of profits. Discussion groups and community to help users find new music.
Payment: BitPass
Typical cost: From US$ 0.25/track
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis
DRM: No
musikkonline.no: http://musiconline.no/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Music by artists signed to various Norwegian labels
Payment: Payex and major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.99/track, US$ 9.99/album
Formats: Mainly MP3, some FLAC
DRM: No
Nervous Records: http://www.nervous.co.uk/
Musical styles: Rockabilly, psychobilly
Comment: Streaming previews (real audio) available. Also gratis samples.
Payment: Paypal
Typical cost: US$ 0.99/track
Formats: MP3 (128 kbs)
DRM: No
Nettwerk: http://nettwerk.ca
Musical styles: Pop, rock, roots
Comment: Streaming previews (real audio) available
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.99/track, US$ 9.99/album
Formats: MP3, AAC
DRM: Varies
Nuclear Blast: http://www.nuclearblast-musicshop.de/
Musical styles: Metal
Payment: major credit cars
Typical cost: Euro 0.99/track, Euro 9.99/album
Formats: MP3, WMA
DRM: Varies
Osrecords: http://www.osrecords.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Small site, featuring music from a handful of artists. Also gratis samples.
Payment: Paypal
Typical cost: US$ 1.00/track
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
PayLoadz: http://store.payloadz.com/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Offers downloadable music, video, ebooks and software. Some by well-known artits.
Payment: Paypal (US accounts only)
Typical cost: US$ 1.49/track
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Smithsonian Global Sound: http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/
Musical styles: Ethnic, world music
Payment: Major credit cards
Typical cost: US$ 0.99/track
Formats: MP3, FLAC
DRM: No

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Gratis Music

The sites below do not charge for download. They are composed partly of promotional sites and portals, partly of sites keeping track of music by trade-friendly artists and acts. Please note: While there is no charge for download, the works are still protected by copyright. For most of the material, only strictly noncommercial use is permitted. All other uses, such as radio play, remixes and soundtracks may require explicit permission and payment to the copyright holder. For works under the Creative Commons licence, check the licence for details about what is permitted before use.

BandBase.dk: http://www.bandbase.dk/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Danish unsigned artists promo site
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Blogothéque: http://www.blogotheque.net/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: French blog of music and podcasts put online by musicians
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Common Content: http://commoncontent.org/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Search engine for Creative Commons licenced content
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MIDI
DRM: No
Epitonic: http://www.epitonic.com/
Musical styles: Alternative, experimental, electronica, folk, hip-hop, jazz
Comment: Independent and underground artists - and some "big shots"
Formats: MP3, WMA
DRM: No
Free Music Webring: http://d.webring.com/hub?ring=freemusic/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Original music put on the web by artist
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MIDI
DRM: No
Garageband: http://www.garageband.com
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Unsigned artists promo site
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
inDiscover: http://indiscover.net/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Unsigned artists promo site
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis
DRM: No
Internet Archive Audio: http://www.archive.org/audio/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Live performances made of trade-friendly artists
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, SHN
DRM: No
Jamendo.com: http://www.jamendo.com/en/creativecommons
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Creative Commons music pool. Some material can be used commercially.
Typical cost: Free
Formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis
DRM: No
Libre.fm: http://libre.fm/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Unsigned artists promo site.
Typical cost: Free
Formats: Ogg Vorbis
DRM: No
Open Directory Project: http://dmoz.org
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Vast directory of free resources (not only music)
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Opsound: http://www.opsound.org/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Creative Commons Music Pool
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Radio Plus: http://www.radio.plus.com/
Musical styles: Experimental, rock
Comment: Tracks and live performances from legendary BBC DJ John Peel's radio show
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
TIBprod: http://www.tibprod.com/
Musical styles: Electronica
Comment: Promo site for small independent record label
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Urørt (NRK): http://www.nrk.no/urort/
Musical styles: Eclectic
Comment: Norwegian unsigned artists promo site
Formats: MP3
DRM: No

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Artist Sites

This section lists sites that either are official sites maintained by the artist or act themselves, or fan sites dedicated to trade-friendly acts such as the Grateful Dead, Please note: While there is no charge for download, the works are still protected by copyright. Only strictly noncommercial use is permitted. All other uses, such as radio play, remixes and soundtracks may require explicit permission and payment to the copyright holder. For works under the Creative Commons licence, check the licence before use.

Gatas Parlament: http://www.gatasp.no/
Musical styles: Hip-hop
Comment: Official web site of Norwegian rappers Gatas Parlament has a lot of MP3s available for download
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Grateful Dead Live: http://www.gdlive.com/
Musical styles: Rock
Comment: The Grateful Dead (and derivatives) has always permitted their fans to record and share live performances
Formats: MP3, SHN
DRM: No
Tom Fox: http://www.foxtunes.com/ (http://www.tomfox.net/)
Musical styles: soul, pop, r&b, jazz
Comment: Official sites of singer-songwriter Tom Fox. He has quit music, but many of his songs are available for free download on his foxtunes site and for purchase at iTunes, Rhapsody, MSN music etc.
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Janis Ian: http://janisian.com/
Musical styles: Contemporary Folk
Comment: Janis Ian's official webpage has several MP3s available for download
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Rex Rudi: http://www.rexrudi.net/
Musical styles: Rockabilly
Comment: Official web site of Norwegian rockers Rex Rudi has a lot of MP3s available for download
Formats: MP3
DRM: No

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Blasts From the Past

In Norway - and in most other countries - a work is protected by copyright for 70 years after the end of year of the author (Norwegian copyright law, § 40). Interpretations, in the shape of recorded and/or broadcasted performances are protected by copyright for 50 years after being recorded or broadcast (§§ 42 and 45). In the USA, many old radio show that was aired before the USA joined the Berne convention in January 1989 has entered the public domain because their producers never registered copyright for them in the first place.

CBS Radio Mystery Theater: http://www.cbsrmt.com/
Musical styles: Mystery radio drama, speech
Comment: All 1399 episodes from 1974 to 1982
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
Kiddie Records Weekly: http://www.kiddierecords.com/
Musical styles: Fairy tales, speech
Comment: Recordings from the 1940ies and early 1950ies
Formats: MP3
DRM: No
RadioLovers: http://www.radiolovers.com/
Musical styles: Big band jazz, speech
Comment: Old time radio shows
Formats: MP3
DRM: No

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