More free music than you can shake a stick at

… and I’m really good at shaking sticks at free music.


If you have an Xbox Music subscription make sure you install the Music Deals app. Back in November Microsoft released 100 albums for free, and now for December they’ve released another 50 free albums. There is a catch, of course: you need to have an Xbox Music subscription* (… or not, see note at end). Since the subscription is only $10 you may want to subscribe just to download the albums… you can always cancel right after.


Now you’re likely thinking: “it’s probably just a bunch of crappy old music, only available for Microsoft devices and with obnoxious rights-management handcuffs.” That’s what I thought, and I was wrong.

The albums aren’t DRM-crippled and they’re not 96kbps samples…  they’re 320kbps MP3 files and MSFT has released apps for iOS and Android. Another great thing is there’s lots of great music from a good selection of genres. Most people’s musical tastes should be covered. Since my taste is fairly indiscriminate I made out like a bandit – 65 free albums and counting!

Here’s a selection of albums available in the current free 50:

  • Night Visions – Imagine Dragons
  • Bad Blood – Bastille
  • The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga
  • You’ve Come  A Long Way Baby – Fatboy Slim
  • Songs In The Key Of Life – Stevie Wonder
  • Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • To The Sea – Jack Johnson
  • All That You Can’t Leave Behind – U2
  • Tron: Legacy – Daft Punk
  • The Lateness Of the Hour – Alex Clare
  • Anthology: The Sounds Of Science – Beastie Boys
  • Love On The Inside – Sugarland

There is an expiration date on this deal, however… the first 100 albums are already gone and the latest 50 will expire in a little over a week.

* A note on the subscription requirement: after I posted this my friend Jonathan commented on Facebook:

I don’t have an XBox Music subscription and still could download these. I think you just need an MS account. Hurray for free music 🙂

Leave a comment below if you’re able to download the music without a music subscription.



Random luck or good targeted advertising?

I was checking out some tracks on Rapsody. Evanescence was playing and a vampire movie was the the sponsor.


I’ll wager I’d get the same advert if I were listening to Liberace (who is not quite as goth as John Tesh, but close).


Crowd-sourced music video

You can either treat your fans as a necessary evil, or you can embrace them. The Japanese band Sour went one step further and made their fans the stars of their latest music video.

The concept: ask your fans to do specific actions in front of their web cams, then assemble the individual actions into a complex dance involving people from around the world.

The result:

SOUR / 日々の音色 (Hibi no Neiro) MV from Magico Nakamura on Vimeo.


Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”… on a violin… metal style… in the subway

This is fantastic. Rock on violin dude!

Michael Shulman describes himself as a “neo classical shred violinist & dancer”. Whatever it is, I like it. 🙂


Free music from Harvey Danger, Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails

It’s been a while since I pulled down some good free music. I stopped obsessing over every Mercedes Benz Mixed tape and haven’t gone on a mash-up bender for years. Yesterday, however, a couple free albums caught my attention.

Harvey Danger – Little by Little

Harvey Danger has put their third album up for a free download in the hopes that you’ll try it, like it and buy it. While the album is free, the band is relying on your honesty to buy it if you like it. I personally like this model, partially because I have a huge tendency to feel guilty about intellectual copyright so I’m sure I’ll pay if I like it. I do hope that enough of the public also steps up and pays because I’d be really cool to see this type of trust continue.

My take? It’s catchy pop/rock with pervasive piano and harmonies giving it a decidedly Beatle-esque feel (which isn’t bad in my book). And, heck, they’re a Seattle band. Note: if you really like it you may want to get the CD since it has 9 more tracks.

Get it!

NIN|JA – Tour Sampler EP

Perhaps they’re touring together because they have similar music, perhaps it’s mutual respect between the bands… I think it’s just because they realized that combining their names creates "NIN|JA". Whatever the reason, Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction (and Street Sweeper) are offering a free sampler album with two tracks from each band to help promote the tour. Unlike other "check us out, please" free albums, this one is promotional and doesn’t come with the guilt of needing to donate money (other than you should go buy tickets and see them live… unless you’re old like me and would probably break a hip in the mosh pit).

My take? Classic NIN and Jane’s Addiction sound. Turn it up and let your ears bleed freely. I was also pleasantly surprised by Street Sweeper, a nice Industrial/Nu Metal blend with a bit of gansta’ rap special sauce poured on top.

Get it!

Bonus album: At the NIN site you can get The Slip for free too.


My new favorite way to listen to music: Pandora

I love listening to music, I have gigabytes of tracks stored on my Home Media Server but there’s a catch: who has time to look through nearly twenty-thousand tracks to pick out just the right grouping of songs? 


Enter Pandora, a fantastic streaming music service which takes a song or artist as input and then creates a steaming radio station based off the musical “genes” of your choice (for more, see The Music Genome Project).  It’s fantastically easy, and it’s free to listen from your computer.  Try it out, you don’t even need to create an account to start listening.  Genius!

The whole experience is really quite slick.

  • Land on the home page and you’re prompted to enter a track or artist… no login to get started!
  • Playing music to fit your mood is as easy as picking a song or artist.  Let’s say I’m in the mood for some Yes, type in to the box, click “create” and Pandora sez: 
  • Sweet, what about the rest of the songs?  Next track is Pink Floyd:
  • You can rate each song, telling Pandora to play more like it, or not play that song anymore on that station.  You can also look up why any song is playing if you’re curious.
  • While it’s free to listen to on the web you can also pay a nominal fee for Pandora goodness on your other devices.  For example, if you have a Sonos or Squeezebox you can pay $36 a year to stream custom, commercial-free radio stations around your house.

image What’s playing on the Yes station?

While Pandora is almost magical, it isn’t infallible. 

  • If you listen for a long time (several hours) you’ll start hearing repeats. 
  • Pandora sometimes seems to get its wires crossed… our Dixie Chicks station will occasionally play Corn or Guns ‘N Roses.  Huh?

It’s also worth noting that Pandora doesn’t allow you to play any song you like at any time (like Napster), but that also allows them to have pricing more like satellite radio.

Now what I’d like to see is Pandora for my own music.  Let me pick a track then have Pandora create a play list I can sync to my portable media player.


And album title of the year goes to…

imageFight Like Apes!

With an EP title like “David Carradine Is A Bounty Hunter Whos Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch“, how can you not love these folks?

The quirky title might grab your attention but the Dublin quartet will definitely please with great tracks and a style described as “synth-grunge”.  Check out their My Space page and have a listen.


Note: I realize “Whos” is not “good English”… but that is the album title.  They are, after all, quirky.


Mashuptown – more mash-up music than you can shake a stick at


A couple years ago I got hooked on music mash-ups when a coworker pointed me to the work of Party Ben, a DJ who, until recently, had a mash-up show on San Francisco’s alternative station Live 105.  Since then I’ve been hooked.

What’s a mash-up?
Music mash-ups are the result of a DJ taking two different songs and mixing them together into a hybrid of the two, sometimes with fantastic results.  It’s a little like sampling (taking a riff from one song and making a new song around it).  Some of the results are total crap… but sometimes one can find some real gems.

Why do I enjoy mash-ups so much? 
Well… I listen to music a lot and find I get sick of what’s on the radio and what I have in my own collection.  Mash-ups are a fun way to listen to music I already like and make it fresh again.

Where can you find mash-ups?
A quick search will net you all sorts of stuff but you can save yourself a lot of legwork by simply going to Mashuptown, a mash-up review blog which picks out great tracks almost daily. Mashuptown will point you to the sites of some great DJs where you can find more great tracks on your own.  Another good place to start is on the mixes page of Party Ben’s site.  Party Ben has a collection of tracks all crammed into a single file, as if you were listening to a long set at a club.


Free music time

In case you were snoozing (I sure was) Mercedes-Benz mixed tape 16 is out.


Life Music

The soundtrack for my life

Saw this on Christopher’s site (he saw it on Trina’s site (she got it from her brother-in-law (he saw it on CC Chapman’s site (he got it as a chain mail from his sister))))… have I mentioned I have trouble staying on track?  Where was I?  Oh yes… 

The general idea is this: put your entire music library on shuffle, write down the first 14 tracks and slot them in for these pre-set sections of your life movie (rules, my play list and movie scenes below).

So, here’s the thing, I wanted to link to clips of each of the tracks so people would be able to listen to them if curious, but Amazon doesn’t have samples of all these tracks… so I instead went waaaaayyyy off the reservation and and started pulling pictures in from my life, slapping them into Photo Story and adding the musical tracks.  The end result lands somewhere between nostalgia and narcissism.

Video: My Life


  1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
  2. Put it on shuffle
  3. Press play
  4. For every section below, type the song that’s playing
  5. When you go to a new section, press the next button
  6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool …
# Scene Track
1 Opening Credits Embrujo by Triumph
2 First Day At School Breaking the Silence by Queensryche
3 Falling in Love Boomerang by Kiss
4 Breaking Up Play Rough by Night Ranger
5 Prom In Search of a Rose by The Waterboys
6 Mental Breakdown Seeing Things by The Black Crowes
7 Flashbacks Knights of the Round Table by Monty Python
8 Getting Back Together Mr. Rainmaker by Warrant
9 Wedding Scene Apples and Pears by moO
10 Final Battle Homewrecker by Gretchen Wilson
11 Death Scene Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon by Neil Diamond
12 Funeral Song Full Sail by Rick Emmett
13 End Credits Two Guys a Girl and A Horn Section by Redwood School District
14 Anthem World Start Turning by Rick Springfield