Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Getting great free music from the Web (legally)!

With all the hubbub about music being downloaded illegally from the Internet, podcasting has opened up a great way for artists, radio stations, and record companies to share their music legally. And since commercial radio is so bland and repetitive, podcasts have become the best way for me to discover new (and not-so-new) music.

I'm hoping artists and labels keep participating in podcasting. It's a good deal for them, since it has enticed me to buy the recordings and concert tickets of many artists I wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Here are some of my favorite music podcasts, covering different types of music. All can be found in Apple's iTunes.

KCRW.com: This public radio station from Santa Monica, California offers several music podcasts. The Morning Becomes Eclectic podcast presents live in-studio performance from the station's acclaimed show of the same name. Two sets of music enveloped by conversation. There have been performances from everyone from indie rockers to alt-country bands, from Spanish-language pop bands to electronica artists.

KCRW also features a Today's Top Tune podcast that features one song daily.

CBC Radio 3: Who'd have thought so much of today's innovative rock and pop music would come out of Canada? This one-hour (give or take) podcast from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation features full-length versions of songs from rock, pop, folk, and hip-hop artists from the well known to the unknown.

The Roadhouse: An hour of "the finest blues you've never heard"–old-style, contemporary, and everthing in between–comes your way in this podcast from Iowa City, Iowa. Host Tony Steidler-Dennison knows his stuff and plays a wide range of blues styles and artists. And with his deep voice and informal approach you'll feel like you're sitting next to a buddy on a barstool in a honky-tonk with a great blues jukebox.

Ritmo Latino: Like The Roadhouse, this podcast covers all styles and genres of its chosen form–Latin music, in this case. The host, an American living in Micronesia, spins tunes ranging from old-school music from Tito Puente and Carmen Miranda to modern Spanish-language rock and pop stars including Mana, Cafe Tacuba, and Shakira to reggaeton superstars Daddy Yankee.

The Tartanpodcast: Host Mark Hunter claims that Scotland is one of the leading centers of great music in Europe and, after listening to a few shows, it's hard to disagree with him. Singer-songwriters, pop bands, rock outfits, and more are all featured here, and while Hunter doesn't work in the music business, he nevertheless has a good ear for talented musicians.

All Songs Considered: Despite the clunky name, this podcast from National Public Radio offers a great wealth of pop and rock music in several forms. The weekly ASC podcast covers songs from about a half-dozen artists with snippets of each tune (you can hear full versions at the show's Web site). What I really enjoy are the archived live concerts that ASC Webcasts monthly from a Washington, D.C., also at the show's Web home. You can hear the full concerts from artists such as Sleater-Kinney, The New Pornographers, Toots and the Maytals, James Brown, and many more. For some you can even download the entire concert in MP3 form; the others you can stream to your computer.

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