How to boycott the Music Industry and still enjoy music

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 16, 2006
Updated • May 6, 2013
Music, Music and Video

The Music Industry (from now on only called MI) is putting a lot of pressure on consumers. They release copy protected media but fail to realize that this is only hurting those who buy music, as everyone else is getting the music without the copy protection included.

Even if you don't download music from the internet you most likely know sources where to get that music for free, without DRM and in high quality. The commercial pirates as well don't care about copy protection as it can be bypassed easily.

The only ones who are really affected are those who buy genuine CDs and DVDs. Releasing copy proctected media is not enough of course, the MI influences governments as well to outlaw people who copy CDs with copy protection or want to download music from the Internet. If they get their will, you may need to buy the very same song multiple times if you want to listen to the music in different devices.

Some companies try to get even more control over the consumers computer by adding additional controlling software to it. Sony for instance decided it would be a good idea to install a rootkit on PCs (Windows only) of legitimate buyers to prevent them from copying the music CDs.

Again only legitimate buyers experienced this while everyone else did not. I think it is time to boycott the Music Industry and find other ways to enjoy music from bands and companies that are not part of it. My article tries to list alternatives so that you can enjoy music the way it is supposed to be.

Don't get me wrong. Artists deserve money for their work, I do not advocate to do something illegal to get the music you like. But the Music Industry will only learn if you show them that enough is enough.

Here we go..

1. Buy used CDs and trade CDs

ebay cd buy

You find thousands of used music CDs at online shops like eBay or Amazon Marketplace. The media has been purchased before and the Music Industry won't see a single dime of that transaction. The seller on the other hand does, as do the platforms where the music is sold on.

I have no experience in trading CDs but a Google search reveals lots of interesting results on the topic. Maybe you already have experience with such a service and would like to comment on it. Let us know if this is a working alternative.

2. Borrow CDs.

This might work in some countries while others do not allow this at all. Borrow CDs from friends and listen to those CDs, it's legal in some countries to copy the content for a friend as well. Check your local laws to find out more about the possibilities in this regard.

3. Support local bands / bands without major contracts

Many local bands manage their concerts, music CDs and website by themselves. They produce their own CDs, they create T-Shirts and play in local clubs and bars. The majority of the earnings will reach the band and the people working with the band. This is a great way to support a band directly.

A search on Bing or Google for local bands followed by regional information usually reveals directories or information websites with more information.

4. Listen to (internet) radio and record it

Listening to internet radio is free. Websites like shoutcast, and offer links to streams of thousands of free radio stations. You will find radio stations for mainstream music as well as stations that play stuff like gospel and swing.

It is legal in some countries to record those radio streams using so called streamrippers that download the stream while you listen to it. (There are actually some tools out there that are able to record more than one stream).

Take a look at my guide to streamripping if you are interested in this. Streamer-Radio is another freeware tool that can record streams.

Pandora offers a unique service but is still considered an internet radio station. You enter a song or artist name and it tries to find matching artists that play in the same style. You need to register to hear more than a few songs though. Read this article if you want to find out how to save pandora streams. Note that Pandora is only available in the US.

5. Audio Blogs / Podcasts

Audio Blogs provide their visitors with audio content. This is often offered in the form of downloadable mp3 files or music streams. Many encourage their visitors to download the mp3 files, some offer options to buy a CD if you like the music.

Visit for a large list of audio blogs.

75 Minutes is a great podcast site that links to free music. Podsafe Music Network offers many songs as well.

6. Download free music

Thousands of websites exist that offer free mp3 downloads. It can be that a musician and bands offer (part of) their music on a website for free or that a company who sells music is offering free sample songs.

The following list contains only sites that offers many songs for free, some demand a registration before you can download songs but that should be acceptable in most cases.

Update: We have updated the article, removed a couple of links that were no longer available, and added new ones.


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  1. Darkelectro said on April 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    It has been a long time since I read something equally common sense. I would even go a step further, and say that giving any money to the music industry in the current state (prosecution of mp3 downloaders, lobbying governments to introduce stricter laws) is highly unethical. I just can not understand why people should be criminalised for such an innocent thing as music, even if some greedy corporations happened to make a business out of it. Businesses come and go, why should this particular one get some special protection at the expense of taxpayers?

  2. DMusic said on October 18, 2006 at 6:30 am

    Hey! Thanks for mentioning our site, DMusic. We appreciate it tremendously. Keep on supporting independent music! :)

  3. Raul said on July 3, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    One week without music in the world. That´s a boicot. People would go mad, music is always present in our lives. People would realise how important music is for their lives. Maybe like that the world would start to show some respect for authors and musicians.

  4. Conrad said on June 27, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    whoops heres the addy

    please dont digg our site.

  5. Conrad said on June 27, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Our humble website offers DRM free Mp3’s, mainly Hip Hop and Techno, Also some graffitti galleries to explore. Enjoy!

  6. Joe s said on June 26, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    Dude you can subscribe to the Napster free trial, download an unlimited amount of music to your hard drive, and then convert it to regular mp3s via a program like tunebite ( which removes all the DRM restrictions.

  7. posiputt said on June 25, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    this may be interesting:
    it’s still small and not very well known, but i think (or hope) it will be someday :)
    i still need authors for posts about free music other than electronic music. at the momenti do all the posting… well… at least have a look :)

  8. kgh said on June 23, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    another free audio site:

  9. Anselm said on June 22, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Although I’ve not read everything i just wanted to tell something about that topic…

    Well I like CDs… I like to buy them, to own them and everything else. I buy as much used music I can get but I still buy new cds under 10€ wether from majors or not. Yeah i do support nearly illegal things but the music for me is more worth than some mp3/flac files on the harddisc. And I’m copying so much music that these CDs don’t get any weight!

    But there’s one thing I try to influence with: I only buy QUALITY! It’s one way I disagree to buy every music from majors but another to buy only QUALITY music from majors. When they’re changing their current cash-targets, 2nd target is reached. 1st target for them will be to see the listeners as friends and not as possible pirates…

  10. RainDaemon said on June 21, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    i Think you guys will find this interesting

  11. MR said on June 20, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    One of the best ways to support musicians without allowing your money to fall into the grubby undedserving hands of the music industry is by going to live shows and buying merchandise directly from the band either at the gig or from their website. A much higher percentage of the money you spend in these scenarios goes to the artists who deserve it.

  12. Elmo said on June 20, 2006 at 1:21 am
  13. thunder7 said on June 19, 2006 at 11:42 pm

    I have been boycotting the RIAA since they first decided to sued that little girl with no computer.
    And then all those poor college studnets.

    I have been checking out my friends bands, and just not listening.

    Lets face it if “we” do not watch out the RIAA will take over and we will let them!.

    I for one am not going to allow them to take over,…”Only I am but a whisper in the wind, together we are like a roar!.”

  14. Me said on June 18, 2006 at 9:03 pm

    I live in Canada where downloading is legal hahahaha you suck

  15. as3423423423423 said on June 18, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    you might want to put a referral link in your links .. esp amazon

  16. Cool Cavemen said on June 17, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    Don’t forget Jamendo, a place to find Creative Commons artists:

  17. Mike (75 Minutes) said on June 17, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks for mentioning our program, 75 Minutes, however, your description is just a tiny bit misleading, so I waqnted to clear it up.

    What 75 Minutes is is an online radio program that podcasts its shows. While our programs are free every week (and a great way to discover some great independent musicians from all over the world if I do say so myself), the songs we play and link to are not free. If someone likes a song we do encourage them to purchase the music as we only feature independent music from artists and labels with a high level of integrity. Labels hat pay their bands a fair percentage of the sales so that everyone involved (including those that work at the label getting the word out about the music) is able to continue on producing more music.

    The music industry as an entire whole is not the enemy here. Just a music industry that puts itself and profits ahead of those creating the product. It’s a fine distinction, but quite an important one. When you don’t pay for music from a label like Dischord Records, or music on a label that some guy is running out of his bedroom, then there is a more direct harm that is being done.

    So do spend time copying, downloading and exploring other avenues of music discovery. How else are you going to hear anything? But when you find artists you enjoy, you should look at their background and are encouraged to support them and their label if that support is going to be used in a productive manner. Rather than “Boycott the Music Industry” we really should be “Educating Ourselves About the Music Industry” and only showing financial support to those that fall in line with our personal ethics.

  18. Simran said on June 17, 2006 at 11:14 am

    You forget the Creative Commons remix site:

    CC music galore! Check out Noite De Carnaval by Code.

  19. culoman said on June 17, 2006 at 11:10 am

    Well, at least in Spain is COMPLETELY LEGAL sharing music and movies using p2p programmes. And there is people who download music and meet together to give those CD’s or movies to bystanders, because it’s also legal…

    We’ll do our best! ;)

  20. Dagon said on June 17, 2006 at 9:09 am

    Plus I advocate actively pirating music, by bypassing any coprright measures and making the music available for download. I say the strangehold hollywood and the US has on worldwide memes has to GO.

  21. tech guy said on June 17, 2006 at 4:15 am

    You don’t need to register for those websites that offer free music. Just use Bugmenot. For example, here’s a link to a login and password for the Pandora website mentioned above:
    Don’t waste your time registering.

  22. John S James said on June 17, 2006 at 3:59 am

    I’m exploring what looks like a revolutionary way to get paid for downloads while most of them are free. Sorry, no software yet — but let’s discuss.

    The idea is that if a band tried to charge, say, 50 cents for a song, it wouldn’t work because of the hassle and expense of the payment process. But if, say, 1% of the audience will donate $50, then 99% of authorized downloads could be totally free — and instantly pay the artist, by the act of free downloading itself.

    Then give the donor incentives — like a unique URL that holds the prepaid free downloads carries the gift of the song through social networks — and can carry the donor’s message as well. And of course anyone who gets the URL can make a donation if so inspired. And that smart URL will keep track of any number of separate donations, and manage them separately. It could circulate forever through social networks, paying the artist whenever it is used.

    I show how artists, donors, and free downloaders will be able to do business this way, even if they all speak different langauges. And this system is so efficient that probably 99% of all money donated (after credit card, etc. fees) will reach the artist eventually.

    For a 10-page writeup see my site:
    I’m not at all proprietary about this, so anyone’s free to use my work.

  23. Jason said on June 17, 2006 at 2:52 am

    I agree that eMusic is the BEST legal download service, mainly because of a) their incredibly deep and well-indexed catalog, b) unrestricted mp3s, and c) they’re super cheap. Oh, btw – there is NO possible way that is legal. Stop kidding yourself, ya thief. It’s just Russian bootleggers preying off people’s gullibility.

    But my main argument is: if you REALLY want to put a hurt on the “MI” (by which you actually mean the four/five major label conglomerates, and hopefully not the thousands of brilliant and driven independent labels), you’re gonna hafta do better than getting your tunes for free. You’d better stop buying iPods too, because every time you hear a U2 song in an iPod commercial, Bono and Co. make bank. Licensing AND publishing royalties! And even “free” radio isn’t benign, thanks to payola.

    Look, finding clever ways to “cheat the system” and get all your music for free only discourages the major labels from really investing in change. If they don’t see profitability in mp3s, they won’t bother to innovate new ways of delivering music or create compromise on standards and fairer pricing. What we REALLY need to do is encourage innovation.

    For example, the Warner Music Group created a new label called Cordless Records. It’s a digital-only label: bands get signed to three- or five-song mini-deals, and these EPs are sold exclusively as mp3s – no physical product. Which makes it cheaper and easier for Cordless to take a risk on a band that’s edgy, interesting, not the boring “safe bet”. It’s a way to adapt to the mp3 market and bring some life to the stagnant state of major labels.

  24. Gina said on June 17, 2006 at 2:34 am

    Fabricio Zuardi just launched which is a directory of music offered under the creative commons license.

    You can see an interview with him here:

  25. Erin said on June 17, 2006 at 1:10 am

    I’ll second eMusic. The selection is a little limited compared to iTunes, but I was very satisfied with what I did download.

  26. Scott said on June 17, 2006 at 12:59 am

    support art. support artists. buy music.

    you cheap bastards.

  27. Jay said on June 17, 2006 at 12:41 am
    Reply has DRM-free .mp3 downloads, and once you pay, you can download them from any of yuor PCs. Please note, I have NOTHING to do with the company, I am just a VERY satisfied consumer. They have mostly indie music and old back catalogue music.

  28. th0m said on June 17, 2006 at 12:34 am

    don’t forget ourmedia… people cover songs, too!

  29. henk said on June 17, 2006 at 12:05 am

    my favourite podsafe music blog

  30. Jersey Todd said on June 16, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    …and don’t forget The Jersey Toddshow

  31. frank zappa said on June 16, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    I’d also like to plug, I’ve downloaded lots of wonderful and high quality music from that site.

    The bnugscast is a great way to hear new music for free also before you decided to buy.

  32. Andres said on June 16, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    I guess RESPECT should be the main incentive.

    Not to count the endless perks a rockstar gets (weather it riaa or riaa-free).

    Doing something they enjoy for a living.

    I mean, Just shut your trap scott.

  33. Scott said on June 16, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    if we stop supporting the music industry, what incentive do good bands have to quit their day jobs and make good music for us?

  34. jan said on June 16, 2006 at 10:19 pm
    Reply contains a wide range of free (as in beer), and usually free (as in speech) music from various musicians and bands from the netherlands and other dutch speaking countries.

    There’s a lot of language independant and english stuff on there, and even though the site is in dutch, i think you would be able to figure it out.

    All music is publisched under the creative commons license.

  35. Marco Raaphorst said on June 16, 2006 at 10:07 pm

    Major thing missing: Creative Commons licensed music! Many professionals, including myself, are using those licenses for music and they work perfectly. Stand up in court too.

  36. Rodney said on June 16, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    Don’t forget everyone’s favorite Socialist institution: the public library. CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, those rectangular paper things with words in them…

  37. Dana Olson said on June 16, 2006 at 9:51 pm
    Reply is a good place to check for CDs by the RIAA members.

  38. NSMike said on June 16, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    One of my favorite music sites is They offer free unlimited hi-fi previews of all of their musical offerings, and very cheap purchases if you find something you like and want to take it with you. 50% of the money you spend goes to the artist, so if you like something, be generous (They offer variable pricing). You then download the album in your format of choice (last time I checked they offered MP3, OGG and WAV) and then burn your CD, download to your MP3 Player and go!

  39. Scott said on June 16, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Try for a good selection of free elctronic/ambient music downloads/artists

  40. Rex said on June 16, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    What about ? good way to “trade” cds around… besides who payes for music anyways?

  41. ashok pai said on June 16, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    truly valuable article for the vast majority of people still unaware of a music scene outside of the MI and RIAA/MPA/ *.
    it’d be nice if they read this article. nice effort! thanx pal.

  42. Hornswaggled Education said on June 16, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    I love too. I dont imagine cd sales ever coming back. Why??? More and more cars are coming equipeed with ipod adapters and im sure within a year we will have a car steareo with a built in hard drive to store your tracks.

    The cd tradding business is okay. A simple way to do it would be to buy “CD Lots” on ebay, rip em, and resell them. Thats too much work for me. 1-3 bucks an album is fair in my opinion.

  43. phix said on June 16, 2006 at 9:02 pm
    Reply is also a great way to support a band directly. They have a paying service that gets you .mp3s or .flac files of live shows. They also have a stash of free music from bands who encourage people to record their live concersts:

    Grateful Dead
    String Cheese Incident
    Les Claypool
    Yonder Mountain String Band

    and many more. No Registration required.

  44. Craven Moorehead said on June 16, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    My two very effective suggestions for screwing over the RIAA while enjoying music are:

    1.) it is a top-notch CD trading service. I have traded hundreds of CDs. I get a CD, rip it, and then trade it on to another member.

    2.) Instead of $1/track, I’m paying about $.10/track. Plus, I get my choice of audio quality levels. I’m using 256VBR LAME.

    The RIAA can make all the threats that they want. I’m not giving them another dime until they realize that a.) the only thing criminal in the music industry is the labels unwillingness to embrace new business models b.) DRM hurts their business more than it protects c.) fair use does actually exist as a sound legal principle.

  45. james said on June 16, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    dude… better watch out.

    the ‘MI’ lawyers are probably gonna sue your for posting this.

    wouldn’t be a surprise…………

  46. Azrane said on June 16, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Don’t forget about SectionZ While it’s primarily electronic music, it’s all free for download, all you need to do is specify an email address.

  47. Mael said on June 16, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    Il y a aussi les web labels. Ecoutant de l’électro, j’en suis quelques uns que j’ai listés ici :


  48. Marc-O said on June 16, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    There is quite a big number of interesting bands that are signed to indie labels, and although some of them are pretty big in term of sales and power, they are not part of the RIAA and the nefarious “major labels”. Most of them are also much more sympathetic to the artists they represent, and more respectful of the public and customers (often offering free mp3s to broadcast the interest of their bands). So it’s possible to continue buying CDs the regular way while not supporting the bad guys.

    Some indie label names, to get you started: Matador, Domino, Warp, Ninja Tune, Merge, Sub Pop, Saddle Creek, Kranky, Arts & Crafts, Morr, Mint, and many many many more. Of course, the definition of “indie” label is subject to discussion, but I’m pretty sure those I named are RIAA-free.

    Avoiding the Music Industry can also mean to support alternative buying sources, like your local indie record store, or indie online shop (insound and cdbaby come to mind – there have to be others too), or simply order directly from the indie label.

  49. Martin said on June 16, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Great one, I really enjoyed watching it.

  50. tempadventure said on June 16, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    Have you seen the video by MC Lars about music downloading? it’s rather amusing and I have posted it on my blog if you want to check it out.


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