Are you the kind of person who only wants to listen to the same bands as everyone else? Maybe you’re like one of my relatives, who took one look at Jamendo and was like “I don’t recognize any of those artists.” If so, then Jamendo is not for you.
But if you’re the adventurous type, who likes to listen to new music and new artists that nobody else has heard of yet, then read on! Maybe you can start a new trend — and discover some amazing free albums in the process.
What is Jamendo.com?
According to their about page, “Jamendo is a community of free, legal and unlimited music published under Creative Commons licenses.” And what a Creative Commons license is, is instead of just being a copyright that says “Don’t do anything with this song,” it gives you permission to do things like share and remix it. Which, I know most people do this already, but here the artists themselves are encouraging you to do that, and giving you their permission to do so.
Why? To get more fans, of course! Everyone already knows that file-sharing networks promote the artists whose music is downloaded. These artists are ahead of the curve, and actively encourage people to download and share their music. And since they haven’t been picked up by the major labels, they’re hoping that this will get them the listeners that they can’t get otherwise. It’s like a concert going on 24/7, with free CDs at the souvenir stands.
Of course, Jamendo is not a file-sharing network. You can download clean, virus-free albums straight from Jamendo itself, or listen to them in your browser. There’s no catch, no subscription fee, and no iTunes-esque DRM to keep you from copying songs. If you want to pay the artists, you can, and nearly all of the money goes straight to them (instead of to the RIAA). If you don’t, then don’t.
Getting Started with Jamendo
To get a quick idea of what Jamendo is like, just visit this link: http://www.jamendo.com/en/tour After that, you can click on the “Sign up today” button right underneath the intro movie, to get started downloading free indie music.
Once you’re signed on, you’ll have your own user page on Jamendo. Here’s mine: http://www.jamendo.com/en/user/Murrquan There, you’ll be able to see all the albums and artists you’ve favorited, and all the reviews that you’ve written. You can also create a public profile, and send messages to other Jamendo users or post on their online forums.
Of course, what you really want to do is start downloading music, right? All you have to do to get started is click on the Music tab. Up front you’ll see this week’s most popular albums, and to the side there’ll be a tag cloud, with all the genres of music available on Jamendo. You can use the search box beneath it, or just click on a genre to get started. You’ll see the album art for all the albums in the genre you picked, and you can choose how to sort the albums as well.
So what is there to find on Jamendo?
As of right now, there are almost 14,000 albums up on Jamendo. And as far as whether or not they’re any good, only you can decide! I’m personally more into ambient music and instrumental soundtracks than I am into punk, rock or metal, so I can’t really tell you about those (even though there are tons of rock albums on Jamendo). I found several albums that I liked, though, and you can see the ones I have favorited on my user page.
What is there to do if I become a fan of one of the artists on Jamendo?
Lots! If you click on the button on that artist’s page to show you their statistics, you’ll get a neat little graph that shows what you can do, in order from most to least helpful. Here’s a link to the statistics page for JMB, an alternative artist: http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/JMB/publicstats
The biggest things you can do are write reviews of their albums, and donate money to them. You can also mark them as favorites on their artist pages, or indicate that you’ve seen them perform live — it keeps track of how many Jamendo users have. You can share artists or individual albums, sending a link to your friends on Jamendo or emailing one to their email addresses. And you can also get Jamendo widgets, to post on your blog or MySpace page.
Of course, listening to and downloading songs also helps the artist, because the more people listen the more people are talking about them, and the more fans they’ll have. So what are you waiting for! Just go to http://www.jamendo.com, and sign up today.