I’ve written before about the free music service Freegal, which I access through the Free Library of Philadelphia – you need a library account (from the FLP or you can try your local library) to use the service. You can download three tracks per week, free of charge, and, as the name suggests, it’s totally legal. The catalog of music is enormous, and I now notice it includes music from New World Records and Albany, two prime sources for new music. My own album on New World, Icons, is there. I don’t know if these labels were represented all along and I just never noticed or if they are new additions, but the point is that you can access them now. Freegal lacks a decent search engine, and lists classical recordings by performer, not composer, but it is still worth looking around the vast list of material. By the way, did you know that New World’s project to make the entire CRI catalog available is complete?
Are you aware of Freegal? (Their website is mysteriously sparse.) This is a digital music download service for libraries to offer their account holders. You get three downloads a week – and you select from hundreds of thousands of items in the Sony Music holdings. Now, libraries are paying for the content – and it is slightly fishy that they are buying something and giving it to you instead of lending it. I leave you to ponder that one. The upside for listeners is rather amazing. Why Sony is doing this is a headscratcher. Just today, through the Free Library of Philadelphia, I got some of the Monk Town Hall concert. The Ellington listings alone could use up your 3 per week for a couple of years (Realize that Sony holds both the Columbia and RCA catalogs – Ellington’s two principal labels). Now, it isn’t perfect – I downloaded what was supposed to be Pierre Boulez’s Rituel – and it shows up in iTunes as Rituel – but it was actually a different track from the same album. Once again it’s the classical stuff that gets screwed up, just like the pages for classical CDs on Amazon that don’t identify the pieces and composers on an album, or the weird inconsistencies of how classical pieces show up in iTunes (How many classical tracks do you have where the genre comes up as “blues”?). Anyway, you can probably download this song, appropriate for the day.