David over at Music Musings already beat me to this post, but this is such a cool giveaway, and its scope so huge, that it deserves to be posted about again. ReverbNation has launched a new initiative called "Sponsored Songs", in which 1000 songs from 1000 artists are being made available for free download. The music is kept free by ads that are embedded into the cover art in the MP3s (or M4As, if you choose to download that format); all of the MP3s I've downloaded have a small Windows banner that takes up about one quarter of the cover artwork, and the album for all of them is listed as Microsoft Windows Sponsored Songs. I guess the assumption here is that enough people actually view the cover art embedded within the files to make it worthwhile for the sponsor; to be honest, I find the press release to be a little on the optimistic side, but at the same time I hope that this program succeeds, because it has the potential to open up some exciting possibilities for free music.
The first advertiser to participate in Sponsored Songs is Microsoft Windows, with free songs being available from http://www.reverbnation.com/windows until September 24, 2009. I am guessing that after that date, another sponsor will take over, perhaps with a new set of songs to download, but there should still be plenty of time to grab anything that interests you there. The site lacks a search engine, so looking for a particular artist takes a bit of work; you can pick the starting letter of the artist's name and filter the list by a few broad genres (Alternative, Electronica/Dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Latin, Pop, and Rock), and the list can be sorted alphabetically or by popularity. While it would be nice to have more options for filtering and sorting, I think that the best way to find the best songs in this giveaway may be good, old fashioned word of mouth.
With that in mind, I'd like to mention a few particularly good songs that I've downloaded. I've only downloaded about a dozen songs from there so far, mainly from artists that I already recognize, but I'm sure I'll be going back for many more before the offer expires. Some of my favourite songs so far include Sofia Talvik's beautiful "Burning Fields"; The Lemonheads' "I Just Can't Take It Anymore", a cover of a Gram Parsons song with a great country rock feel that reminds me of Blue Rodeo; Logan's "Goodbye", an excellent hard rock tune that David recommended; and Celldweller's "Ursa Minor (Neutron Mix)", a short but very sweet song that packs a lot of atmosphere and drama into less than 2 minutes.
If anyone comes across anything particularly cool there, please leave a comment here so the readers of this blog and I can check it out. I'm sure that there are tons of great songs available, so let's hear about them! Happy listening!
I have created a spreadsheet that lists all of the songs, along with the artist, genre, and location information for each song. You can access a read-only version of the spreadsheet right here - I hope it helps some cool music to be found!