NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, April 2010
FREE Music Downloads from AMAZON
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host
(click to email author)

http://tinyurl.com/ygke6t5 (connects to Amazon Free MP3 Downloads)

Regular readers of this column know that I like bargains, and I especially like the biggest bargains of all, “free stuff”. Many of us now have some form of MP3 player (digital music format) in our cell phones, in our cars, on our computers, or in the myriad of small personal MP3 players carried by millions of people. There are many sources of MP3 music that range from ripping music CDs (converting commercial music CDs to MP3 format), downloading pirated (illegal) music from P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing services, and purchasing MP3 files from a variety of legitimate services, such as iTunes. Many are not aware that the online behemoth Amazon.com also has an enormous collection of MP3 files available for download, many of which are totally free!

I first found out about the free MP3 downloads from Amazon from a listing on one of my favorite deal sites, dealnews.com, which periodically displays listings of new free CDs and MP3 files that can be downloaded from Amazon; often the free albums are seasonal, and have included Christmas music, Halloween, St. Patrick’s, and other events, but are definitely not restricted to seasonal music. After seeing several albums available for free download from Amazon, one particular listing caught my attention as it was a genre’ of music that I like, so I decided to download the free album. Upon arriving at the Amazon listing, I was directed to download Amazon’s proprietary MP3 downloader (free) from http://www.amazon.com/gp/dmusic/help/amd.html. This downloading utility is available in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions, and only has to be installed before the first MP3 is downloaded, and will automatically load for subsequent MP3 downloads. The downloader utility downloaded and installed quickly. After installing the download utility, I went back to the page that had the free album, and clicked on the download link. Since I already had an established Amazon account, I was not asked for any additional information or credit card information, and the price was clearly listed as “free”. If the user does not have an Amazon account, registration is quick and easy. The Amazon MP3 downloader loaded, and in just a few minutes, downloaded the entire album to my hard drive. The album title was displayed, as was information about each song, and organized as an album, that can be played by any MP3 player. Since downloading this first album, and finding that it worked flawlessly, I have subsequently downloaded dozens of other free albums, and hundreds of individual music selections. I have a 4 gig SD memory card in my cell phone which is now loaded with legitimate music downloaded for free from Amazon, and it plays very well. Obviously, in addition to the free MP3 titles, Amazon has countless more “pay” titles which they obviously hope that the user will purchase, but I have been happy with the free titles.

As I type this, Amazon is offering several dozen free albums and hundreds of “singles” for free. Music is available sorted by genre’. The listing on the left side of the page shows the 21 genre’s available, including children's music, pop, rock, blues, classical, R&B, country, folk, jazz, hard rock & heavy metal, dance and DJ, Christian and gospel, soundtracks, opera, rap and hip hop, Latin, Broadway, and a few other genre’s.

Since I have a new granddaughter, I decided to download several free MP3 titles to help entertain her, downloading enough free music to fill a CD. The free listings are variable and inconsistent, as today (as I type this), there is only one free child’s album available, but there are still a few dozen individual children’s titles available, including “The Wheels on the Bus”, Twinkle Twinkle”, “Frere Jacques”, and “This Old Man”. On a daily basis, Amazon always has a featured “Free song of the day”, and I just downloaded today’s selection, “He's Gone Away”, by US Air Force Singing Sergeants, which was from the album “This Land Is Your Land”. On the bottom of the download page was a listing of other free titles downloaded by people who downloaded this song, and the first item listed was Elvis Presley’s “Walk a Mile in my Shoes”.

For myself, I like more traditional music, and actively download music from the genre’s that I enjoy. I just checked the classical listings, and there are five free albums listed for download today. One that I just saw listed, which I am downloading at this moment is “I Love the 80s, Vol. 1 (1880s)”, which is a collection of symphony music composed in the 1880’s by such greats as Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Brahms, Dvorak, Bruckner, and others. Also listed was an album of Chopin music, which will be next on my download list. I have also downloaded show tunes, jazz, international music, patriotic music from the Boston Pops, Big Bands, music of the 60’s, and dozens of other albums as well as individual MP3’s. There is also a selection of individual comedy audio available for free download in MP3 format, but be aware that some of these are quite risqué’, and may be inappropriate for children. I also just downloaded the free album “Discover Texas Music: Volume 1”, which includes nine contemporary songs by Texas artists. Right now, Amazon lists 1547 free MP3’s available for download, but this number and selection is very variable, as some items I have downloaded for free in the past are no longer listed as free; likewise, every time I check the listings, I find interesting newly listed free titles by sorting on “Release Date” (top right corner of music listings) to see what is coming up and what has just been posted. By simply clicking on the “Get MP3” button, I can download the files.

While there is obviously a marketing benefit to Amazon by offering these free MP3 files, they are to be commended for making them available. Since they are all free, there is not much risk in trying a selection. I can recommend these free Amazon MP3 files to anyone.

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