Music Everywhere

By Jamie W. RSS Wed, May 15, 2013

This is a great time for music lovers. Not so long ago, we had relatively few choices when it came to how we heard our music. We could buy it, which is ideal if you’re sure you’re going to like it once you get it home; listen to the radio or watch MTV, OK as long as you’re content to hear what someone else decides you should hear; or go see it live, again wonderful, but depending on where you live and the kind of music you like, maybe not possible.  And those examples only take into account our very recent history.  Go back much further and people who wanted to hear music had to play it themselves (also not such a bad option, as any musician will tell you). 

Now though, anyone with access to the Internet also has access to a nearly limitless amount of music, much of it free and entirely legal.  I don’t mean that online music can or should take the place of buying CDs and records, seeing music live, or making music yourself, just that it’s awfully nice to be able to satisfy your musical curiosity so easily.  So, while the Free Library will no longer be offering the Freegal database of downloadable music, there are still plenty of great ways to access your favorite tunes.

Let’s look at some of your options. 

Library Streaming Services
While music on the open web is great and the amount of content is growing every day, you still can’t find everything. That’s where the library can help. Check out our streaming music service over at the Download Media page. Online Music from Alexander Street Press is comprised of six individual collections focusing on jazz, classical, traditional, and world music.  You can stream all day, create playlists, and more.  A library card is required to login and a world of great listening awaits.

Online Streaming Services
Subscription services like Spotify, Pandora, and are also a great way to hear music online. These services are free and supported by advertising – just like radio – except that here you get to choose what you want to hear.  Spotify lets you listen to the specific songs, artists, and albums you choose without limitations, while Pandora and offer you the ability to create custom radio stations based on the music you love.  At the basic (ad-supported) level each of these services are free. Even better, all indications are that the market for streaming music online is about to get even bigger with recent reports that Amazon, Apple, and Google are all hoping to get into the market. 

Embrace the video wormhole!
As if listening to your favorite music weren’t addictive enough, there is also a nearly endless stream of music video on sites like YouTube and Vevo. Vevo is sponsored by three of the “Big Four” major record companies and serves up new music videos and hits from some pop’s biggest starts. YouTube, of course, is also a great source for today’s hottest videos, as well as your old favorites from the video era, but the real fun begins when you discover one of YouTube’s many hidden corners of music arcana.  From lost dance floor gems,  to Afro-rock greats, to forgotten Philadelphia A-sides, these fan created videos offer a music wormhole too fun not to allow yourself to fall into now and then. 

Of course, all this is only the beginning.  You can also find new music on aggregators like The Hype Machine; search out tomorrow’s hits on Bandcamp, or hear a little of everything on SoundCloud.  Please share your favorite sources for online music with us in the comments below. 

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Streaming is NOT the same as OWNING which we have been able to do from FREEGAL. So- what is your comparable service going to be now that you are changing something that WORKS???
Rande - Philadelphia
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hello Rande - I responded to your comment over on the other post about this topic (
Jamie W - Philadelphia
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Streaming is NOT the same as owning. Is there a possibility of charging a small fee (I.E. 5 or so dollars a year) to keep the service running? I mean, couldn't you possibly do that instead of dropping the fantastic service?
Grant - Wilkes Barre
Monday, May 20, 2013

I wish you'd re-consider -- this is my favorite part of your collection. And, streaming is NOTHING like the freegal site, where you get to keep the songs! I too would be willing to pay to keep this service
D McGovern - PA
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Agree with the other commenters - streaming isn't helpful if you don't have constant internet access. It's not even about owning vs listening... not having internet wherever you go means that streaming is useless. The benefit to Freegal was the ability to take the music with you on the go, and not need to be connected to the internet. Very disappointed in this change, and like Grant, I would gladly pay a small extra fee per year to keep this service.
Julie - Philadelphia
Friday, May 24, 2013

Just learned of the loss of Freegal. I *had* planned to download pieces to my MP3 player to carry with me in my rucksack while backpacking overseas: to listen to while trekking, in my rooms in budget hotels and hostels, on buses, boats, and trains -- where streaming will be impossible. What a pity!
Joe - Philadelphia
Sunday, May 26, 2013

Streaming is definitely NOT the same as downloading. When I download music, I can then add it to my MP3 player and take it on the go. I've been doing this for several years and have an awesome collection of music thanks to Freegal. As far as streaming music soon as you turn it off, it's gone. There is no saving to a computer or MP3 device to listen to over and over. This is really disappointing. It was my favorite part about your website. Now, I don't have much use for it. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE reconsider!!!!
Heather - Lewistown
Saturday, June 1, 2013

To my surprise, Freegal has been removed! I wholeheartedly agree that streaming is not the same as downloading. Please reconsider.
Dorothy - Philadelphia
Sunday, June 2, 2013

I'll admit, I only signed up for a card at the Free Library, because they were giving out FREE MUSIC. But the music wasn't free at all for the library, in fact Freegal is a very expensive program. How about taking some time and researching the costs and pro/cons of libraries using this program? One stat I saw said the cost per song was roughly the same as buying them on iTunes. Do you all really believe the Free Library owes you that much FREE MUSIC? I'm thankful that I was able to DL 3 free songs/per week for almost 2 years. Thank you Free Library! But with tight library budgets everywhere, I'm not surprised that it couldn't go on forever. I was disappointed this morning to see that it was discontinued. But it was great while it lasted. Thanks again, Free Library, for all your great resources!
Chris - Bethlehem
Monday, June 3, 2013

I too was (very) disappointed to discover today that the library had discontinued its subscription to Freegal. It was the database I used the most through the Free Library. I also agree with the other posters' point that streaming music is not the same as owning the rights to the download and being able to transfer it to other devices and have access to it without an internet connection. It doesn't seem like any of the alternatives on offer through the Free Library are even comparable in selection to Freegal. Thanks for offering Freegal for the length of time that you did, but I really wish you'd reconsider or possibly find another more comparable database of downloadable music to offer.
Angie - Fredericksburg, PA
Monday, June 3, 2013

Like many of the other patrons / users of the Free Library I am disappointed about NO MORE FREEGAL. I am new to the service and I was just learning the easiest ways to navigate the site. Streaming is not downloading; can you explain how these services are available through other means. Thank you
Steve - Philadelphia
Monday, June 3, 2013

I too was so disappointed to learn that you no longer have Freegal. It was one of the main reasons I used the library. Spotify is the only option to listen to a specific song. I checked and in order to do that on a mobile device it costs 10.00 a month (hardly free). Can you please point me to another service that will let me listen to a specific song, when I want on my mobile device for free?
Carol - Philadelphia
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This is clearly a step backwards, about 5 years or so. I can stream music on many sites. I was excited to have a service like Freegal available to me. Very disappointed by this. I will NOT be using the streaming service that you provide!!
Tom - Peckville
Saturday, June 8, 2013

Please reconsider dropping Freegal. I too would be willing to pay a small fee for use of the service.
j-ne - philadelphia
Sunday, June 9, 2013

Alas, I came to the library site to download "pomp & circumstance" for our kindergarten graduation and to my dismay, freegal is no longer here. Please do reconsider. It seems many have used and enjoyed this library resource.
Jane - Philadelphia
Thursday, June 13, 2013

I too will miss Freegal. Wish there were some way you would reconsider your decision. Would also be willing to pay. Thank you for your consideration.
Nancy - Beaver
Thursday, July 11, 2013

As a library patron, I'm disappointed to discover Freegal is not being offered; however, as a library employee of the Chester County Library System, I know all too well how library funding and support is dwindling. Many of the comments regarding the Freegal service mention willingness to pay to support the return of the Freegal resource. Unfortunately, too little - too late. Where was the monetary support for all the rest of the library services....
Jeanette - Oxford, PA
Saturday, July 20, 2013