How to Download Music That's Free and Legal

by Christina Shaffer

Depending on how often you download music, paying between $1 and $2 per track can begin to take a toll on your wallet. Building your music collection, however, doesn’t have to be costly. Many well-known sites, including Last.fm and Amazon, offer free MP3 downloads ranging from mainstream to independent artists. Alternatively, you can install a free, legal peer-to-peer sharing network such as iMesh to download and sample new music.

Using Amazon

Navigate to Amazon’s Free MP3 Store (see link in Resources) and sign in to your Amazon account. If you’re not an Amazon member, hover your mouse over the Your Account tab and click the “Start here” link to register for a free account.

Select your preferred music genre, such as classic rock, country or pop, in the navigation pane. Alternatively, you can use the search bar to locate songs by a specific band or musician. Amazon changes the free music selection regularly but includes songs from a variety of mainstream and indie artists ranging from Snoop Dog to Wild Flag.

Preview a specific song by clicking the “Play” button. To download a song, click the “Get MP3” button and then click the “Continue” button on the Review Your Purchase screen. The purchase price on the Review Your Purchase screen should be $0.00.

Click the “Download your purchase” button.

Click the “Install the Amazon MP3 Downloader” button if you want Amazon to import all future music downloads to your Windows Media Player and iTunes libraries. If you don’t want to install the Amazon MP3 Downloader, click the “Skip installation” link. Authorize your computer in the Device pop-up window. After authorizing your PC, the Open dialog box will appear.

Check the box next to the “Save file” option and click “OK.” The MP3 will be saved to the Downloads folder automatically.

Using Last.fm

Navigate to Last.fm’s Free Music Downloads page (see link in Resources).

Search for free music by using the navigation pane. You can search by genre, such as electronic, indie, jazz or metal, as well as by certain decades, including the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Click the “Play” button to preview a specific song. To download the song, click the “Free MP3” button.

Check the box next to the “Save file” option in the Open dialog box and click “OK” to download the song. When the process is complete, the file will be saved to the Downloads folder.

Using iMesh

Download and install iMesh (see link in Resources). In addition to offering more than 15 million free, non-copyrighted songs and videos, iMesh allows you to transfer your free downloads directly to a portable media player.

Launch iMesh when the installation process completes.

Click the “Register a new user” link and sign up for a free iMesh account. After you complete the registration process, the “Add Media Files to Library” dialog box will appear. Click “Next” to import the music files from your hard drive to your iMesh library automatically. To skip this process, click the “Cancel” button.

Locate music recorded by a specific artist by using the iMesh search bar. Click the “Free” tab to view free songs recorded by that band or musician.

Right-click your preferred song and select the “Download” option. When the download process completes, the song will be saved to the iMesh folder on your PC. By default, the iMesh folder is added to your Music folder when you install the program.

Tips

  • Unlike Amazon and Last.fm, iMesh doesn't allow you to preview free MP3s prior to downloading them.
  • ITunes offers a different free single each week, which is available in the iTunes Music Store.

About the Author

Christina Shaffer is a freelance writer based in New Jersey and has been writing arts and entertainment articles since 2005. Her articles have appeared in "Philadelphia City Paper." Shaffer received a B.A. in journalism and gender studies at Rutgers University.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images