Free Music!

As you might have noticed, music is a huge part of my life (good thing I work with a lot of musicians then!) and I’m always on the lookout for new songs and sounds to add to my ever expanding library.  I wouldn’t say I’m a taste maker per say in that I’m not one of those super hip music blogs that discovers and introduces the latest and greatest in the music scene.  (Though I’m always hunting these sites down to pitch clients to.)  I suppose I could start posting songs that I’ve been enjoying recently, but only if you, my readers, want me to.  I’ve got a fair amount of followers now, so don’t be shy!  Comment!  Question!  (I know you read my blog, you sneaky readers you.  I won’t bite.)

Anyways, finding songs are great but it’s even better when I can add it to my listening library and own the actual MP3 (as I stated in a previous post, I’m actually kind of peculiar when it comes to owning/listening to songs.)  So when I find websites and podcasts that legally let me download songs for free (I love free stuff, you know that) it’s like I’ve uncovered a treasure chest of music.  There are of course tons of illegal sites that let you download lots of things for free, but stealing has never been my thing.  It’s one thing if the artist wants to give it for free- it’s an entirely different thing to steal.  When you rip a CD or a movie for free, you’re not just stealing from the artists themselves or the big brass way up at the top.  The janitor that tidies up the studios, the costume assistants that clothe all the extras, the artist that designs a CD jacket- you’re stealing from them too.  It’s easy to think that celebrities and wealthy bigwigs can let a $10 cd slide by, but when that happens over and over again, everyone gets hurt.  So kids, don’t illegally download stuff!

And that concludes my PSA for the week.

Anyways, I decided to collect a few sites that consistently have offered awesome music from both well known and indie artists and present them all for you in one easy spot!  I can’t say that I discovered all of these sites on my own, a big shout out to my friends who have steered me towards some of these sites.  (Also don’t forget to check iTunes for their weekly free songs, and if you have a LA county library card you can check their free music catalog!) has an amazingly large amount of music samplers put out by different labels (but you’ll probably have to slog through a few pages before you find ones you like.)

Everyone’s favorite large indie music store Amoeba has tons of indie artist songs for download and you can bet that all of them are decent.  So does KEXP’s Song of the Day podcast (also on iTunes)- there’s a couple of good free song of the day podcasts if you just type it into iTunes search bar.

NPR All Songs Considered’s Tiny Desk Concerts and The Wild Honey Pie are two of my favorite places to discover and download incredible live performences (perhaps you may recall my glowing infatuation with Kishi Bashi)

Hype Machine also has an excellent music blog directory which will help you find all those awesome sites out there that showcase all those awesome indie artists with names like Octopus Eyes and She Writes In Cursive (I just made those band names up, but they sound very hip, don’t they?  You heard them from me first!)

Not having money shouldn’t be an answer to why you don’t acquire new music or feel the need to resort to illegally downloading.  Of course the current Top 40 stuff, the songs that play on the radio 24/7, will probably not be found for free anywhere (legally).  But there is so much wonderful free music out there- on blogs and artists’ websites and podcasts, if you search hard enough, I guarantee there will you discover some awesome tiny indie band whose music you can’t get enough of.  There’s something for everyone!  Not to say that Top 40 stuff is all bad- though I love my Renaissance choral music, I’m not too high and mighty to have a dance party to Swedish House Mafia.  Plus, I consume K-pop at a voracious speed so judging other pop music consumers is like the pot calling the kettle black.

Untitled #7

I’m still dedicated to my Flash Fiction writing project (see my last post for details) but wouldn’t you know- as soon as I get inspired and churn out a story in a miraculous two days, I get stumped on the next one.  I won’t spoil the word for you, but rest assured it is definitely not an item people usually discuss (get your minds out of the gutter because it is as far away from a dirty word as words could possibly get!)

Thank goodness I discovered a new source of distraction inspiration.  If you have a card with the LA County Library system, you can use your card to legally download free music with a system called Freegal (rhymes with legal)!  They’ve got a huge library (I thought I died and went to heaven when saw all those Broadway soundtracks) but they’ve also got an agreement with Sony Music, so they’ve got pretty recent stuff like Justin Timberlake’s new single “Suit and Tie.”  Only catch is that you’re limited to three songs per week- a mildly annoying rule that is tolerable when you consider the huge amount of music that is ripe for the listening.  Go here to access the site.  Other libraries are also partnered with Freegal, but you’ll have to check your library’s homepage to see.  I’ve already planned out a month’s worth of downloads 🙂

I’m kind of particular about my music.  Other people use subscription-based services like Spotify, where you can stream all your music and not have to worry about buying/storing them.  This doesn’t work for me.  For one, they are painfully low on Asian music (and probably other foreign music as well, though I haven’t checked.)  Also, I’m kind of a borderline hoarder/fanatical collector when it comes to my songs.  I only add songs I know I love to my iTunes library (yes, all 2,000+!  I can say with confidence that probably 80-85% of my music I can recognize and name after hearing a few seconds) and I catalog them very carefully.  For instance, it really bothers me if I don’t have the cover art for an album, I HATE having duplicate songs, and of course misspellings are forbidden.  But that’s just me being OCD about my music.

Sorry for being rather uninspired this post, I hope to have my next Flash Fiction story up next time, which will be sooner than this post, I promise!  No more Downton Abbey to take up my late Sunday nights (at least until Game of Thrones comes back next month!).

Crazy for Kishi Bashi

I’ve tried writing this post about three different times, but every time I started, I got distracted/uninspired and so I stopped, letting this poor post languish in unpublished obscurity.  I wish I could boast about the beautiful Southern California weather, but alas, it is rainy and gloomy here all weekend, although it was a beautiful 80 degrees only a few days ago.

Instead, I’ll gush over a new musical discovery, though I’m punching myself for not discovering him sooner.  You know how sometimes you hear a song and you kind of like it, so you ignore it but decide to give it another shot and end up loving it?  This is what happened with me for Kishi Bashi (the stage name of Kaoru Ishibashi), a Japanese-American musician wunderkind.  Though he is a founding member of the band Jupiter One and tours with Regina Spektor and of Montreal, I’m just talking about his solo endeavors here.  He employs the looping technique (wherein you take snippets of sounds and layer them), creating lush mini-symphonies with only his own voice and instruments.  Another looping artist that comes to mind whom I also adore is Imogen Heap, who really should collaborate with Kishi Bashi.  I’d love to hear the crazy, mind-bending loops they’d come up with…

You may have heard his song “Bright Whites” in a Windows 8 commercial but it was perusing the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series that I came across this beautiful, haunting concert he performed last year.  Do yourself a favor and listen.  Even if the music isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can’t help but be awed at the way he is able to create and loop so many themes, layering them all on top of each other to create pieces that are breathtaking and so blended that you can scarcely believe he creates it all in real-time as he goes along.  Listen to Kishi Bashi perform “Improvisation/Atticus, in the Desert”; “Bright Whites”, and “I Am The Antichrist To You.”  I’ve been listening to it on loop (pun intended) all day. And then go look at the outfit I that I was inspired to create as I was listening to it.