A Music Obsessive’s Guide to Surviving the Recession: a Top Five

piggybankIf you’ve had even a passing interest in current affairs over the last few months you’ll have noticed that the nation’s in the grip of a “recession” (that’s merely official parlance for “two quarters of economic slowdown” and doesn’t mean that the sky is falling in, lest I be guilty of the kind of scaremongering that got us all here in the first place…) and thanks to our oh-so-clever friends across the pond in yankville we’ve all got a little less money to spend.

So what does that mean for us self-styled music obsessives? Those of us who have to buy at least two CDs a week or we’d explode from a lack of new music… Well fear not, for here’s the cavalry with the Top Five Ways to Get a Cheap Music Fix:

1. Don’t panic.  You don’t necessarily have to spend £10 for an album; as long as you keep your mind open and your computer on then you can amass a respectable music library for free.  And what’s more, you won’t have to break the law (well, there’re a few gray areas, but we’ll come to those later…) or resort to the bane of industry-types everywhere: the dreaded torrent!

2. Visit this site (and others like it). Any regular readers of this blog will know I’m fond of ranting about mp3 blogs, and their legitimacy, or lack of, as a route for discovering new music.  The way things stand at the moment, there are plenty of new and independent acts out there who’re desperate for promotion and press.  The current trend is for those acts to “give away” sample mp3s for bloggers to link to.  Meaning, that there’s loads of new music being given away for free: all you have to do is find it.
By far the easiest way to do this is to peruse a “mp3 blog aggregator” (a site that searches a selection of blogs for links ending with .mp3 and offers them up to you via a standard search page) such as Elbows or Hype Machine.
The other way is find a blog you like and then explore that blog’s “blogroll”.  This way you’re using the bloggers own taste to filter your results, meaning that what you find tends to be a bit more “focused”.
It should be mentioned, however, that there are a lot of unscrupulous bloggers out there who post mp3s without any permission at all.  It’s safe to assume that any song from a major label that appears in a blog had been illegally half-inched, so watch your step…

3. Be a fan.  Committed fans have been getting free sh*t from bands since the days of fan-clubs and Xeroxed fanzines…  If you sign up to a band’s mailing list you’ll be inundated with band-spam, but amongst all the “please come to our gigs” emails you’ll often find the odd link to exclusive downloads, fan-only website areas, etc.  If you go one step further and join a band or labels “street team” you’ll get even more stuff – full CDs and T-shirts – in exchange for nothing more arduous than an afternoon of handing out flyers.

4. Review stuff.  I shouldn’t really be telling you this, as it eats into my margins, but bands and labels will always hand out previews of albums in exchange for press.  If you’re a student (and therefore always poor, recession or not), get in touch with your university paper and offer to write stuff for them.  That way you’ll get free CDs and gig tickets in exchange for a (generally quite short) review.

5. Sleep with the band.  Surely the most sure-fire way of getting free stuff, and pretty self-explanatory…

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