Free music is cool. Photo and feature photo: CamEvans

Lord, we’ve got it easy these days. No more cassette mixes, zines, or disappointing used compilations from the record store are needed to discover the music you love.
Here are 22 free and legal online resources for pumping your ears full of metal, world, dub, punk, and anything else that makes you happy, no matter where in the world you are.
Radio Tuna

Richard Stupart recommended RadioTuna saying it’s “…a small slice of amazing. It literally searches music radio stations on the net by trying to match beats, returning you lists of streamable music that actually sound like (not simply tagged like) whatever niche genre you are looking for.”

Personally, I’m finding stuff I think is weird on here. I just found a band called Yex, for example, something that could keep my mind occupied for a while on a station called confusementradio.com. Googling the band was a strikeout. I may never hear them again, but I heard them on Radio Tuna. They were followed by the Mattis Trio.

You know what? I thought I was over looking for new music. This website is showing me as I write this that I was incorrect. I wanted to hear someone beating a spring door stop and I got it.

And for those of you who don’t crave dissonance and clanging, you can surely find something to enjoy here, too.

Last.fm

I put in a crazy list and LastFM chooses the most popular tunes by the bands and artists I select. The choices are probably based on popularity, kind of a greatest hits situation, but when you want to hear what you want to hear, this has got to be a good choice. In fact, I think I’m hooked. The trouble? It’s free for only 30 tracks and then you have to pay the piper ($3.00 a month) if you live outside the US. In the US, you’re cherry, though.

Map of Metal

Thanks to Richard Stupart once again for this one. This site is a giant map you can move through, a graphic representation of metal and metal derived music (crust punk figures, for example, as an island) including, well, just about everything metal. On the continent of Heavy Metal, major cities are Progressive, Traditional Doom, US Power, and Thrash, while Glam is a country all its own. There is a key illustrating primary, metal, fusion and related genres, in case you want to know.

You can’t get lost with a map, right?

Each category can be clicked on to reveal a list of bands, songs, and years in a player in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, and they play without hanging. If you ever felt like a numb nuts because you didn’t know the difference between first and second wave black metal, this site will be an education. And even if that is of no concern to you, as Richard puts it, “My brother spent an entire morning laughing at Irish Folk Metal.”

Search by Record Label

Above is linked one online guide to independent record labels. Conspicuously absent are some I go to listen once in a while and see what’s new, including Ipecac, Alternative Tentacles, and killrockstars.

At allrecordlabels.com, you can try your luck with hundreds of genres and discover new music directly through labels’ websites. Unfortunately many listings seem out of date while others don’t offer stuff to stream, but if you want to go deep, this is a good route.

I just found Snayle Records. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but they’ve got videos and I found ‘em.

Maximum RockNRoll

Yeah. MRR is a zine I remember people shitting their pants over. Well, that actually could have been because they were drunk, but either way, MRR has been an authority on DIY punk, garage and hardcore since 1977. They plumb the depths of the MRR record collection weekly and have been doing so since April 2007 with some spotty coverage available in the archives from before that. The programs average about an hour apiece.

So if you like punk, stream your head off or subscribe (and whichever one you you bastards pocketed my $5.00 for back-issues years ago, I hope you enjoyed your crappy beer).

Also, if you use iTunes, you can use the “other users also subscribed to” option to find other kick-ass podcasts. God, you kids have it easy these days.

iTunes

With as little as a genre to use as a search parameter, iTunes crushes it with podcasts. Search “world” or “Ghana” or “ska” or “classical” or “psychobilly” and refine your search by podcasts and dig and you’ll find one you like. From there, you can mine recommendations based on your original find and populate your computer or mp3 player with all the free music you can shake a leg to.

nuTsie.com

NuTsie uses your iTunes to profile you based on your already existing music collection, so to have an account, you first have to have iTunes, and second, you have to have actually imported your music into it.

Without an account of your own, your only option is to listen from iTunes top 100. You can choose by year going back to 1947 or select any number of genres and groupings. The first one that comes up for me on the 1947 list is Jimmy Liggins and His Drops of Joy’s “Cadillac Boogie.”

Even characters out of Bret Easton Ellis novels need a place to
find Huey free online: Ed Yourdon

When I accidentally click that, nuTsie chooses Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” for me. I don’t understand the rationale here, but I’d say nuTsie’s random selection does more for me than Pandora’s ever did. This was followed by Dinah Washington, The Clovers, and Curtis Mayfield. Not bad, Nutsie.

Top 100 Wildest, Wackest, Craziest & Quirkiest Songs” has The Electric Prunes’ “Toonerville Trolley,” Holy Modal Rounders‘ “Bird Song” and something off Trout Mask Replica.

There’s interesting stuff to be heard, but as Michelle Schusterman (who listened pre-iTunes synching) puts it, “Honestly, it seems to be mostly pop stuff – example: searching “Miles Davis” brings up nothing. You can make playlists, but they have lots of premade ‘Top 100s’ like ‘Top 100 Pop Songs of the ’80s,’ ‘Metal Songs of the ’90s,’ etc.”

You have to sign up to get “unlimited skips.”

Live365

Live365 has a lot of stuff. You have to pay for some of it, but not all. They say the premium service gets you select stations and once you pay, you can listen commercial-free.

When I hit International, then Africa, I get a list that includes Radio Abeokuta, described as “Thousands of Yoruba (African) musical tracks from various countries including Nigeria, Benin Republic and Togo in West Africa as well as Yoruba Santeria songs from Cuba and Yoruba Candomble music from Brazil and Yoruba music from other countries worldwide.”

There are Sounds of Shalom, Celtic, tango, and Mandarin Chinese just on the first page of “International” among 378 matches. If your goal is to travel around the world with music, this is a great place to start.

Long ago, I used Live365 to listen to comedy and they now offer 317 choices there. If you don’t want to mess around creating a profile (or being profiled), Live365 is a great option.

Pandora.com

Pandora is still free in the States, but if you happen to be outside the US, you’re not allowed to use it at all. The site profiles you based on music you select, and some swear by it. I remember feeling quite annoyed by the majority of what Pandora played for me, but your mileage may vary.

When I asked my US colleagues about their experience with Pandora, Hal Amen said, “If you use it on a computer, you’re limited to something like 40 free hours per month. But on an ipod/phone/(other mobile device?), it’s unlimited.”

Julie Schwietert said, “Their ‘Latino’ music selection is pretty terrible, with Juanes, Shakira, and Mana in heavy rotation. I recently set up an African music channel and it’s the same deal; their options seem to be populated with the predictable representatives of each genre (Fela & Femi Kuti, in this case), but breadth and depth are limited.

Grooveshark

It probably depends on what you want. When I search Mr. Bungle, it comes up with all three widely released records. Le Tigre comes up aces, Ornette Coleman yields a giant catalogue, Ani DiFranco and Crass the same.

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys? Bonanza. The Fall? Check, but only three songs. Spit Boy? Uh, no. Depending on your preferences you could be quite happy here as there is no hanging with a reasonable internet connection.

Says Matador Life editor Candice Walsh, “Grooveshark is AMAZING. It’s the only thing I use right now. Beware the privacy settings, though. My friend logged onto her account and in her ‘community,’ my name was listed, and showed everything I listened to lately, and literally said I was obsessed with Rihanna’s new song. Actually, here’s a screenshot.”

Candice: Don’t judge.

Blip.fm

At Blip.fm, I have to sign up (for shame). I am then directed to list three artists and I choose Public Enemy, Fats Waller, and Le Tigre. Then I press play and am given The Moldy Peaches’ “Steak For Chicken.” The lyrics are funny, but the sound is acoustic and made me feel sad and frustrated. I don’t get it, but I think it’s cross-pollenating from Peaches. I got P.E’s “Makes You Blind” next.

The page picks other people’s “blips” based on your selection, giving you a playlist of music you might like and (I’m guessing) allowing you to make friends and interact with other users. You can connect it with your Twitter and uselessly annoy all your friends who don’t give a good god damn what you’re listening to also, while doing a nice bit of advertising for Blip.fm.

It looks like you can make up to five “tunings” which I’m guessing are stations, search and “blip” specific songs, and see what other people on the site are listening to. After I stay for about 10 minutes, I start to like it, but I think I’m too old for all the social media options.