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2008-01-17

Free Music Resource: We7

NOTE: A while back, We7 stopped offering free downloads, at least outside the UK.

My goal with this blog is to share free, legally available music with as many people as possible. So far, the way I have been doing that is to highlight free albums or artists who have made their music freely available, and that will continue to be how I normally recommend free music. Sometimes, though, I would like to highlight websites that I think are particularly useful for locating free music. One such site that I just came across a few nights ago is called We7, which has a rather unique method of providing users with free music.

(Before I go on, I feel I should make one thing clear: I am not in any way affiliated with We7, nor do I receive any form of compensation from them. I merely think they offer a cool service, and this post is my way of helping to spread the word about them.)

The We7 site can be browsed by genre, artist, album, or song title; a search option is also available. There are recommended albums, artists, and songs all over the place, and everything can be rated by users; ratings are used in the compilation of charts to see which items are the most popular. If you are a registered user, you are able to download songs once you find something you are interested in (sadly, some artists seem to be available only in certain regions; as a Canadian, I am currently unable to download music from Megadeth, Motorhead, and Frank Sinatra, among a few others that I have tried). Downloads are in MP3 format, and each downloaded MP3 contains a short ad at the beginning; the ads are what keep the music on We7 free, as artists are paid with revenue from the ads.

At this point, I think it's a fairly safe bet that you're thinking something along the lines of "Ads? In music files? How on Earth could that ever work?" I thought the same thing when I first read about that, but after hearing how they work, I am convinced that this system has potential. On the album I downloaded, each ad was between 5 and 8 seconds long; over the course of 30 minutes, the ads totalled no more than about 45 seconds. Considering that most TV shows have about 8 minutes worth of ads in a similar time frame, I think that this is definitely acceptable. Granted, the songs I downloaded are all about 4 minutes in length; perhaps if you download a bunch of much shorter songs the ads might seem more intrusive (although for all I know, the length of an ad may be dependent upon the length of a song - I'll have to try this out with songs of different lengths).

As I was registering for the site, I was informed that I would occasionally be asked to complete short surveys or questionnaires (taking no more than about 20 seconds of my time) in order to help target the ads toward my own preferences and interests. I haven't had the chance to do this yet but I think it would be a good thing, as all the ads in my first downloads were about We7 itself, which I am obviously already aware of. Also, once you have had files for 4 weeks, you are given the opportunity to obtain ad-free versions of those files, up to a total of 20 files per month. I've still got 27 days to go before I can begin testing this feature, so I can't say anything more about it yet. 20 files a month is not a huge number, but I can't see it really being a problem unless I start downloading huge amounts of music from We7.

I think We7 could really benefit from having more users right now. A lot of artists I am unfamiliar with don't have any reviews of their material up yet, so it's hard to know what I should be checking out; as it was, the one album I did download had a comparison to Pearl Jam (one of my favourite bands) in the review, so that was an easy decision for me. I would highly recommend that anyone reading this head on over to We7 and register with them. Once you discover some good music there, write a review so that others will have some idea of what to expect from it. Also, leave a comment here about your discoveries so that other readers of this blog can be made aware of them; I will be highlighting any albums, artists, and songs that I feel are particularly noteworthy.

Happy listening!

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1 comment:

Amanda said...

I know a great website that has a few bands songs for free.
you can also check out local bands.
www.soundclick.com
-Amanda