Lately I've been thinkin of what's keeping me hooked to free music – and I found the answer: the joy of discovery!

What I mean by that is probably best explained by examples.

In the MTV era that we (still) reside in, "discovering" an artist means pretty much being the first bloke or lass in your class who saw the video on the music channel. Then you can brag: "Aye, I've been a fan of Bloc Party even before they were hip – I saw the video to Banquet just when it came out on MTV" …yeah, I've been like that as well …and, yeah, it's not really thrilling.

Now let's see how I find new free artists nowadays by looking at two examples that lead me to discover uncharted seas of music.

First, a (for me) very typical "Jamendo" scenario:

  1. I was browsing along the Jamendo website when I saw an interesting cover randomly appear in the player applet.
  2. I clicked "play", I liked the song and clicked on the album's link, which lead me to Team9's profile page.
  3. Listening to the rest of the album I fell in love with it and wanted to learn more about it and see if there's more! Sure enough there was a link to the band's/artist's website.
  4. On the website I found a huge amount of awesome mashups, which of course they couldn't publish on Jamendo. I listened to them and downloaded some …but more importantly for this example, I looked at their links to affiliates and artists they (actually Team9 is just one guy) like(s).
  5. A name cought my eye, I followed the link and landed on the website of World Famous Audio Hacker.
  6. There I saw even more mashups (including the famous 8 Minutes of Madness) and a link to a brand new project/album – Tron 1.5. Seeing the movie as a kid, it brought up nostalgia and I checked it out
  7. Needless to say, I checked out the (surrealistic prank) album and amongst the artists listed and linked I saw Solcofn, Tiger Mendoza and Lilith the Kitten, all of whom I liked a lot on Tron 1.5.
  8. More link-clicking and more great music revealed – Lilith the Kitten has some mean remix of Prodigy's Invaders Must Die and some very nice tracks completely of her own as well (I adore Jewelbox); Tiger Mendoza also has some nice tracks on his self-titled _ EP on BandCamp_; while apart from his music Solcofn has lead me to discover a new netlabelCorpid, which I'm still dicovering.

The next example goes around BlocSonic – another netlabel I frequent:

  1. While checking out the (then) newest release of NetBlocBlocSonic's regular compilations of music from other free netlabels – I heard an enchaning pop song called Animals.
  2. BlocSonic offers direct links to both the artists' and their netlabels' (if they have one) websites, but at that time I just wanted to see if Entertainment for the Braindead (that was her name) has any other songs available and if they're equally as good.
  3. Sure enough on her website there was a videospot and a short discography – it turned out that she hand-crafts every single CD's art, making it unique and doesn't want in return anything more then enough money to cover the material costs of the CD and the cover. Wow!
  4. Browsing around on her website I found a link to her netlabel (because I didn't bother to click on it on BlocSonic) – Aaahh Records. Surprisingly it's a netlabel that specialises on acoustic pop/rock, which is not easy to come by nowadays.
  5. On Aaahh Records I also found The Wind Whistles – not my favourite, but very good acoustic pop/rock all the same.

And least, but not least, how I discovered one of my favourite artists in the worldJimmy the Hideous Penguin:

  1. I was bored and, being a Linux geek, searched for "penguin" in Amarok (it uses Jamendo API) and Jimmy popped up. Imagine the chances! I laugh a little inside by only thinking about it :]

Yes, it takes some more work (although less time) then sitting hours on the couch gawking at MTV and being fed the latest ads and fads. But, boy, was it worth it! Not only is there (again) the thrill and joy of discovering completely new artists and new music, but you have more control, make your own choices, find out what you like and what not. And, yes, being able to talk with the artist instead of only about his/her music, is a lot more fun!

Bottom line: finding free music is a lot more thrilling and gives a lot more joy of discovery! Not because of the (lack of) price, but because of the artists' freedom of speech, the listeners' freedom of choice and the freedom of both to communicate.

hook out → happy birthdaying and going to bed

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