The British artist Lily Allen recently became the latest high profile star to refuse to make music whilst piracy is still an issue, such is the scale of the problem. The good news is that there are ways of getting much of your music for free without breaking the law, a godsend for the many people who are slowly becoming more conscious of their download habits, read on and found out how!
Amazon.com - Yes, believe it or not, Amazon has become one of the best places to find free legal downloads! Just type the word 'free' into the search bar, then navigate to the music section, where you can find hundreds of free downloads from across the genres. Amazon recently made them a little more difficult to find, by mixing them up with paid downloads, but before their recent changes I know that there were over 1300 MP3 files available at no cost. It is certainly still a case of finding the diamonds in the rough, but in the past week I have downloaded tracks from Dizzee Rascal, Nickleback, Ziggy Marley, Brian Eno, and a whole bunch of talented up and coming artists that I had never heard of before.
emusic.com - emusic, the subscription download site, offers a free trial during which you can download 25 MP3 tracks for free! emusic has a fantastically huge catalogue, but forget to cancel your subscription within 14 days and expect to see a hefty charge to your bank account!
Live Music Archive - For anybody that isn't aware of this site, you must check it out! The Live Music Archive (www.archive.org) is a non-profit collaborative site in which its users can upload live recordings of any artist, in order for lucky people like you and me to subsequently download them. Live recordings are generally, as long as not prohibited by the terms and conditions of a gig ticket, completely copyright free. As you would suspect some of the files are awful quality but amongst the gems that I have found, as an example, are some 8-track quality recordings of David Gray (will my reputation ever recover from this article?). The site seems to lean towards singer-songwriters and indie/alternative bands, but well worth a look if that's your taste!
iTunes - In case you haven't already worked it out, iTunes actually does offer many free tracks. Mostly these are of unsigned or up and coming artists, but you never know what you might find! They use a clever marketing technique of offering certain MP3s at no cost for one day only, so if you see something that you fancy then grab it quick!
ArtistServer.com - 7,000+ MP3 tunes to download, these are not mainstream artists and instead artists trying to create publicity for themselves and win themselves new fans. Some of them are brilliant, more of them are rubbish. If you enjoy the process searching for new music, then this is a good place to start!