Freegal (rhymes with legal) means free music

edited July 2011 in General
Freebie music courtesy of your local library. My local library (which is totally badass and has been that way for years) offers up 3 freebie downloads a week. Looks like a lot of the same back catalog Sony, Warner music provided by the other place. The FAQ describes thusly:

Library Ideas is a privately held company based in Fairfax, Virginia that offers services and products to the educational markets. Besides Freegal Music, Library Ideas offers movies on USB, an online language learning product and online games.

At 3 pops a week it will take me about a month to fill out my Donell Jones fetish.

Anyhoo, check with your local library. You will need a valid library card to register and download.


  • Cool, I think Craig or someone else mentioned this or something similar awhile back. It's not at my local (Dallas) library system, but I do regularly stroll its catalog for new releases and to avoid buying something they have a physical copy idea.
  • I just got a notice to come in and renew my library card. Now I have some incentive.
  • Not sure how your libraries operate, but for me it is a major source of music. I can have out three CDs at a time for £1 each for a week. Often I'll change mid week, so I'll get through 6 new CDs a week. It is all legal, as the artist will get income from both the initial purchase - they pay more than I would to have on such a basis, plus something everytime it is borrowed.
  • For some reason, Wake County--the capitol county with some of the wealthiest communities in the Southeast US--offers no music and no video (save some programming from the local PBS stations). It's all books, audio and in print.
  • Paying to borrow items is usually not something you have to do in most public libraries in the U.S. as far as I know, Greg. But there are fines for overdue items.
  • We don't pay for books, but do pay for CDs and DVDs - not much, but it is to cover the licensing fees and hire payments to artists. Authors get very little in comparison if their books are borrowed
  • Just so's we are clear, we are talking free mp3 downloads not CD's, although my library offers CD's for the normal 3 week borrowing period. I don't borrow CD's anymore because I got tired of competing with 13 year olds for them.

    Also, it felt a little scuzzy to rip them to my computer. That's the result of hanging around with you folks.
  • @jUj: Those must be pretty sophisticated teenagers if they're after the same CDs you are. Or do you mean you've got to elbow your way into the CD section?
  • edited March 2012
    A library where I have privileges just got this, and it's pretty good. Better selection than I expected...I'll take advantage of it while it lasts!

    Was interested enough to Google around a little bit, and found this interesting discussion. The librarian blogger is dead set against it, and thinks it's a bad investment...I guess I'd tend to agree, as it has the library spending resources to basically buy something for one patron. But at least some of the commenters have a differing view.
  • I just posted on that librarian blog.
  • edited March 2012
    An interesting discussion. We have no such service, but it sounds a bit like e-books that academic libraries buy into here. The problem is that only one user at a time can use it. I know that is the case with a physical book or CD or whatever, but isn't the point to make it easier to users to access? To me a much better system for music is that when a library buys a CD for hire, it pays more for the purpose along with an extra fee each time it is loaned, so the copyright owner gets something for it s use. I see no reason why this could not be extended to downloading with a built in life, but then isn't Spotify doing this better already. Overall our local library service does make a 'profit' from CDs and DVDs helping to subsidise book purchases.
  • We have those too Greg at college libraries in the United States. They usually won't let you print out more than a certain number of pages, if any. I've been lucky so far to not need to read an entire ebook on such a service yet.
  • Just wanted to put in another plug for Freegal, especially now that emusic is shedding labels right and left. If your library offers it, I've found it the best option of all the other library-offered music services like Hoopla and Alexander Street. Your mileage may vary, but my library lets us download 5 tracks for free each week from Freegal, and in addition to the Sony and RCA back catalog (fill any gaps in your Leonard Cohen discography), there are a number of cool smaller labels with great ambient/electronic stuff, including Serein, Audiobulb, Tench, Bureau B, Hibernate.... Here's a list of stuff I've downloaded in 2018 so far (we have 2 library cards in this household, so that's about 10 tracks a week).

    Ametsub, Mbira Lights

    Banabila, Just Above the Surface

    Banabila, Trespassing

    Federico Durand, Extasis de las Flores

    High Plains, Cinderland

    Kein, In Bloom

    Konntinent, All Lines Lead In

    Kryshe, March of the Mysterious

    Marcus Fischer, Collected Dust

    Monty Adkins, Rift Patterns

    Moss Garden, In the Silence of the Subconscious

    Olan Mill, Pine

    Poppy Ackroyd, Escapement

    Poppy Ackroyd, Feathers

    Poppy Ackroyd, Resolve

    Porya Hatami, Vari

    Porya Hatami, Daydreamer

    Roedelius, Offene Turen

    Roedelius & Cole, Selected Studies, Vol. 1

    Teresa Salguiero, La Golondrina Y el Horizonte

    The Balustrade Ensemble, Renewed Brilliance

    Various Artists, White Bird in a Blizzard

    Various Artists, Mulheres de Pericles

    Wil Bolton, Under a Name That Hides Her

    Wil Bolton, Amber Studies

    Wil Bolton, Time Lapse

    Yui Onodera, Sinkai


  • edited August 2018
     I love Freegal too -- the highlight of my week! I have been using freegal to download all kinds of albums which I can't get anywhere else. Also, some Asian and experimental stuff. I've noticed that for certain albums you can't download a longer track, which can be a bummer in some circumstances. good to see Will Bolton and Porya Hatami on your list. 

    Individual tracks from the massive RCA 100 anos folk collection
    Soundtrack to Bladerunner 2049
    Some Jarre tracks -- Essential Recollection
    Wind and the Wave -- lovely  Austin acoustic band 
    Sergey Lazarev -- that crazy Russian pop sensation who almost won Eurovision 
    Whitney Rose -- Rule 62  country/pop album
    Lots of various Brazilian tracks from all sorts of compilations 
    Buckshot LaFonque
    Natalia Lafourcade -- Mexican pop
    John Cage, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, etc.  

    About my favorite find on freegal is a world pop/electronica compilation album called "1 Giant Leap" by Various. Yes, in the title, spell the number one. Tracks by Michael Franti, Robbie Williams, Baaba Maal.

    Also, they have a fair number of Chinese pop albums. There's so much to listen to, I found nice tracks by Cindy Yen, Lilian Wong, Na Na Tang, Pauline Lan, Shandy Gan, Manic Pixie Dream Girl

  • Another Freegal Fan here - already got this week's list ready for the Monday morning DL.  Amazing that Freegal can keep a relationship with all these labels even though it's free for me.  I think my local library pays 3 cents per download.  Since my town doesn't have water, sewer or trash service, I try and make the most of Freegal!  Cheers.
  • stewrat said:
    Another Freegal Fan here - already got this week's list ready for the Monday morning DL.  Amazing that Freegal can keep a relationship with all these labels even though it's free for me.  I think my local library pays 3 cents per download.  Since my town doesn't have water, sewer or trash service, I try and make the most of Freegal!  Cheers.
    Really? The word when Freegal first came in was that libraries were paying more per download than if they had been bought at Amazon. See e.g. 
    I am sure it has evolved, but if Sony wanted to give it’s catalogue away for three cents a track it would be on emusic, no?
  • That's what I was told and hence my question about how the two business models differ.  I'll ask again when I stop by my local library.

  • Here is another piece with some related costing speculation‘spotify-libraries’-public-libraries-edge-toward-music-streaming-services
    3c per track might be for streaming? 
  • edited August 2018
    Two things. First, Germanprof, here's the correct URL‘spotify-libraries’-public-libraries-edge-toward-music-streaming-services -- those apostrophes mess up things. 

    Second, you might enjoy reading this protest email I sent to my local library about buying censored versions of pop music CDs..

  • Erased Tapes is now available through Freegal. Who knows what other labels have migrated to Freegal since abandoning emusic?
  • Freegal gave me weird download errors last night; anybody else have trouble with it?
  • edited September 2018
    amclark2: I was able to download my usual weekly Freegal allotment today with no problem through the Cincinnati Public Library.
  • Yeah; must’ve been my computer that night; I was able to re-download everything later
  • Just discovered that my local library has pulled out of Freegal - that's a blow. I was planning to finish Christian Sands latest album today. I suppose I'll have to finish it at Amazon.
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