A couple of years ago I decided to ditch mainstream music, mostly for two reasons.
First, I find that much of what comes out nowadays is uninteresting and as fresh as my grandpa’s old slippers. Music majors don’t take risks anymore, so we’re served the same old soup again and again. Why would I spend my time and money on that!
Second, I don’t feel comfortable supporting the majors’ business model anymore: they grab most of the financial benefits, leave the crumbs to the musicians, sue people for sharing or remixing music, lobby to extend the copyright terms… Seriously guys, don’t count on my support anymore.
So I decided to look elsewhere.
Netlabels working with CC licenses had been going on for a while, but their impact is somewhat limited unless they regroup and get their artists some exposure.
I started by looking at the communities proposed by the Creative Commons website itself.
The obvious ones ended up disappointing me: SoundCloud looks more like a huge advertising billboard for signed, established acts. Jamendo certainly fares better, although it tends to bring forward its “best of” tracks and makes finding artists’ works more difficult than it should.
Free Music Archive is kind of special.
First of all, its content is curated. There’s a bunch of persons out there listening to the submitted material and filtering out what does not quite cut it in terms of quality. As a listener you are therefore presented with music which, independently of your tastes, meets an established level of quality.
Talking about tastes, FMA spans a lot of different styles of music. Diversity seems to be one of their core values. For music explorers like me, this has serious benefits. Darn, I actually started enjoying country music! For a guy coming from the techno scene, that’s no small feat!
Browsing through Free Music Archive‘s lists is like perusing the records collection of a music lover: it’s a never-ending sequence of delights and surprises!
Do you need proof?
Here’s a small list of my best picks:
- Track Jackit – Building A New Chicago: excellent Chicago House whose vibes come straight from the best underground parties.
- Sileni – Codex Teuthis: amazing avant-garde hip-hop, totally original and unforgiving. Most likely from another dimension!
- The Underscore Orchestra – Tales From The Road: festive Balkan Jazz that will make you clap and dance wherever you are.
- [Yahuy-Che-Kabah] – Super Power Plant – Dystropic Ambienotix RMXs: dark tribal industrial ambient, evocative as hell.
- Mitoma – Iso:Reform: splendid glitch/techno/electro that could have been the alternative soundtrack of Blade Runner.
- The Impossebulls – Slave Education XE: seminal hip-hop album from the most underestimated act of these last two years. At least two years.
- D3Zs – Crazy Ig (from Bloc Party 2 compilation): emotional hip-hop at its best, beautiful without being corny.
- Kellee Maize – The Remixes: you can’t stand female pop/rap acts? Or maybe you do? Doesn’t matter: you will totally love what this lady has done with her voice!
- The Impossebulls – Everything Has Changed; Nothing Is Different: that’s the second time I quote these guys. I don’t care. Best hip-hop album of the decade. Best act of the century. Do NOT fncking miss this one, you’re warned!
- Kai Engel – Paradigm Lost: the best soundtrack to a movie that I wish would exist. Gorgeous and splendidly executed.
- Metastaz – Encounters: top-quality, astounding dubstep/reggae/hip-hop from an unknown god! Seriously, where did he come from? Unforgettable tunes!
- Jazzafari – BeaTape Vol.1: surprising blend of jazz and hip-hop, oozing with original ideas.
Do you need more proof?
Okay, more then: Uno Datwangi and his electronica carved with love, Lee Rosevere and his gorgeous ambient works, The Fucked Up Beat‘s amazing trip-hop, Kirk Pearson‘s multiform melodies, Westy Reflector‘s mix of pop and rock, Derek Clegg‘s beautiful country, Anamoli‘s delicate folk, Pianochocolate‘s splendid melodies, Seazo‘s circuit-bending electronica, fat trip-hop beats from Tab & A.U.R.C, North Hive‘s gorgeous ambient landscapes, Airglow‘s mesmerizing synth pop from the 80’s, a decade which possibly also influenced The Easton Ellises magnificent electro-pop (check Nightwavs!), Projekt Klangform‘s thumping industrial IDM, Nate Maingard‘s gorgeous songs, Fog Lake‘s meditational mix of folk and ambient, or Pregnant‘s fascinating and totally crazy jazz experimentations…
And that’s only a tiny bit of it!
Friends, that’s only a small part of the FMA macrocosm. A life would not be enough to hear every expression of creativity that has been made available for free thanks to them. It’s a labor of love made for musicians to bring forward their infinite creativity!
Today these guys need our help to maintain their project and bring it to the next level. And I’m going to give you two reasons why you should:
1. Click on every link up there, download those albums for free and enjoy what I humbly believe is the best and most creative music you can find around. For Free.
Now think: how much is that worth? How much would you pay to listen to daily new releases of creative, original free music?
2. How many times have you debated with your friends about the sad state of the music industry, and how the whole copyright system is broken… Isn’t it time for a change?
Now think: wouldn’t you love giving the finger to music majors, and instead support a team of music lovers who give exposure to the best, most original composers and artists out there?
It’s totally worth it!
I don’t know about you, but I have made my choice two years ago already.
Now excuse me, but I’m going to get that card ‘o mine and make that donation.