Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fingertips - The Intelligent Guide To Free And Legal Music

Those who know me, or have read my rantings for a long time, know that I've changed from being a staunch opponent of downloading (pirating) music to being an advocate of getting as much free music as you can. The final straw for me was when iTunes became a tool of the RIAA and began putting a lock on the music I was purchasing from them. That was not fair.

Being an advocate of fair use and paying for entertainment, I believe that once I pay you for a song, whether on vinyl, CD, tape, or as a digital file, it is mine and I am free to do with it what I want, as long as I do not use it for commercial enterprising or personal financial gain.

I have been purchasing music since the mid-1960s, and I am one of those 'mixed-tape' geeks that Nick Hornby wrote about in "High Fidelity." I have won and lost lovers with mixed-tapes, I have used mixed-tapes to court people and to dump them, I have used them to make a point (political or otherwise), and I have used them as gifts. Over the years, scores of people to whom I have given mixed-tapes (now mixed-CDs) have gone on to purchase music by some of the artists I have introduced to them with my mixed-tapes.

Giving someone individual songs on a mixed-tape for "free" leads not to that person getting more free cuts, but to that person purchasing music by the artists I have included in the mix.

Locking a song I have paid for is not fair use, and I stopped using iTunes on that day and I changed my personal stance on piracy. I now believe that the record companies and the RIAA are the pirates, and that artists and consumers alike are victimized by their petty vindictiveness, failed profiteering, and legal wranglings.

When I decided to stop opposing 'piracy,' I tried to learn how to get free songs from the Internet; but, it was too complicated, too confusing, and put my personal computer in a line of fire I wasn't prepared to defend against. So, although I no longer advocate against free downloads, I find it intolerable to participate.

Then I found out about Jeremy Schlosberg's Fingertips music site. According to the site, it is "An annotated, informed guide to the best free and legal music on the web." Free music from the web that I do not have to steal! Wow!

Each week I receive an email from Jeremy with links to a few free and legal songs by artists I may not of heard, and sometimes the occasional cut from a well-known artist.

The site asks for donations, and there is a link to use PayPal or Amazon to send money.

The site is worth investigating and supporting. Advertising is kept to a bare minimum, and Jeremy's effort shows as a labor of love.

You won't find any free David Bowie or Elvis Costello cuts, but you will find The Dears, Death Cab For Cutie, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Tom Waits, Wilco, XTC, and tons of other artists you may or may not have heard of (or from in many years).

And you can download the cuts for free.

As a bonus, Jeremy writes a blurb about each song that is not some pedantic blather critiquing pop music, it's his opinion (a learned opinion you will see) and he is fair and open-minded about all genres.

This is a site worth supporting, and I hope you will take some time to visit, download and send five or ten bucks to support the project.

See the master artist list here, then explore away. Listen. Learn. Enjoy.

And if the RIAA is reading, please note that I have gone on to purchase the CDs of artists I heard for free at Fingertips! Giving away free songs promotes sales. The petty, vindictive decision to lock songs we purchase only turns people away from the industry, it doesn't protect anyone!

Dick Mac Recommends:

High Fidelity
Nick Hornby

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