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Sounds of the free: net labels and independent artists keep free downloading in full force

By Lara Kinne–

The aftermath of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Internet piracy panic has left popular file-sharing websites similar to Mediafire and Rapidshare with slim pickings. Active music seekers will find most leaks of new releases harder to come by as these file hosts condense their uploaded content in order to abide by the growing consequences of illegal downloading.

Many independent artists rely on free music distribution to gain a following and further their careers. Sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp provide a concise outlet for sharing music on the web, but users are limited to uploading only tracks and album art; additional multimedia must be taken to another web venue. Fortunately, there are independent labels operating online who sign, distribute and promote artists under the agreement that all content remains one-hundred percent free.

These sites turn out to be the best online sources for nabbing free music.

Based out of Phoenix, Ariz., Holy Page has one holy mission: “to create a single page on the web that contains free yet exclusive media from artists around the globe.”

The only catch is that label owner and creator, Christian Filardo, designs their album art, unless designated otherwise. A do-it-yourself artist, Filardo extends the label beyond digital media by selling physical releases strictly as cassette tapes, including extra goodies with art books, label merchandise and small shards of hand-crafted music party favors. As a collective, music found here is as bizarre and original as the webpage itself.

Established in 2009 by San Francisco-based synth artist Marilyn Roxie, Vulpiano Records aims “to offer quality, free music” under agreement the content is featured non-commercially.

Here, artists are in good hands. The label often distributes samplers and newsletters through the net, partly functioning as a PR firm in exchange for sharing your personal nuggets of music. Leave it up to the fox.

Vulpiano specializes in mostly ambient and electronic, but the credentials remain genre-free.

Read on: Name your price, make it free: find new music through Bandcamp.

Graphic illustration by Nate Malchow/The Louisville Cardinal

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