Five free music sites on the web

January 13th, 2009 | by Chan Chi-Loong

I’ll stick my neck out and make a prediction: in the future we won’t need to own digital copies of mp3s, let alone CDs.

Not when we can pull music off the virtual cloud that is the Internet.

Music is one big area that is exploding in the new social Web 2.0. You can discover, search, and share playlists on many music websites out there, and never have to own a single copy of any song.

It feels like Napster days all over again. But far more than filesharing platforms or basic internet streamed radio, these Web 2.0 sites – and there are many of them out there – allow you interesting ways to find and play music.

I hardly listen to my own mp3s nowadays except when I’m on the move. When I’m home doing work, I’m typically listening to one of these sites below:

1. Deezer

Deezer is one of the more established music Web 2.0 sites out there. Started up in August 2007, it’s a legal music search engine, sharing platform and radio station rolled into one.

When you search its database library to play any of the archived songs, the artist or rights owner makes a cut of the advertising profit on the site. The archive is pretty extensive, and many new songs are available. You can also create your own playlist and track other playlists by other folks.

I typically use Deezer to listen to the top music charts in UK and US – new songs often appear there before they hit our own radio stations.

2. Musicovery

Musicovery is a web radio that plays random music based on certain attributes like mood, tempo or genre.

It is great for discovering new songs, and it’s excellent when you don’t have specific music in mind and just want to explore.

3. Just Hear !t

Just Hear !t is my current top site for finding specific songs that I want to listen to.

Like Deezer, you can search for music and store playlists. But what I really like about Just Hear !t is the drag-and-drop flash-based interface. It’s simple, intuitive, and beautiful.

Top marks for presentation and ease of use.

Reminds me of traditional music players like iTunes or Winamp, but your library is limitless and free. 🙂

4. Qloud

Qloud is a raw way to discover what music is popular on the internet, based on what other users are searching for on YouTube.

The interface updates constantly, and serves as a barometer of what music is popular on the net. You can, as usual, create your own playlist.

The founders believe in embedding their Qloud MyMusic applications in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Friendster. For example, on Facebook, you can discover what Qloud users are listening and create your own music feeds.

I like Qloud for it’s funky layout and use it as a random way to discover songs. Sometimes the best way to find something new yet really good is to hear what other people are listening.

5. Last.fm

Last.fm is great community radio, and besides MySpace, it is one of the best sites out there for serving up music from the indie crowd.

Want to find music from a Singapore or Malaysian band? Chances are, you’ll find them here, but not on any of the above mentioned sites.

You can create and store playlists, but you have to log in to use any of its services. Use it to discover indie bands, especially local Singaporean acts.

Besides these five sites mentioned, there are lots of other music specific sites like Seeqpod and Dizzler. I didn’t even mention YouTube or MySpace. Although these huge aggregators of content have loads of free music, it’s probably easier to use mashups or music specific tools – like those listed above – to access their content.

To take the tagline off Techgoondu: the revolution has begun. Music is going online and free, and nothing – neither DRM nor RIAA – will stop it.

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