new SXSW Torrents are here! new SXSW Torrents are here!

edited February 2016 in General
Every year at about this time, there is an unofficial bit torrent of the free songs from the South By Southwest Music Festival. The person who runs these torrents simply aggregates the free downloads from the site and the sites of related artists who are performing there. Then he puts them together in a single bit torrent which people can download. (Actually 2 different torrents. Part One - released today --  is 6 gigs and contains 1000 songs. Part two -- which will be released in early to mid March -- will usually contain 2 or 3 gigs).

This is my main method for learning about new music. A substantial portion of the SXSW performers have labels (20-30%?), but most are unsigned artists looking for deals and exposure.

Over the years, People have discussed about whether it is "legal" to make such a torrent available.   The person who does it says he is simply providing a public service by making the free SXSW downloads easier to obtain. The home page says, "Disclaimer: This site is in no way affiliated with SXSW or any SXSW artists. These torrents are provided as an alternate means to sample the songs available on the official SXSW site." Over the years it has gotten coverage from, Boingboing, Gizmodo, Neither SXSW nor any labels or artists have taken legal action against the site that does it. 

The torrents from the other years are still available, and I admit it can be overwhelming to download and listen to them. I find that I delete about 15-20% of the tracks on first listen, though there is a lower crap-to-awesome ratio with each successive year. 

Listening to the 2015 torrent resulted in my purchasing 28 albums from emusic last year. (and my sxsw-inspired 2015 buying spree isn't even halfway over!) The prices and the links below are all from emusic. 

  1. Walk by Suboi (9 tracks, 32 minutes for $4.41). Suboi is a Vietnamese rap singer whose songs are peppy and bilingual and fun.
  2. It’s Alive by La Luz. (11 tracks, 33 minutes $5.39). Good upbeat girls surfer rock by a featured Los Angeles group at SXSW 2015 with hints of anarchy throughout.
  3. Bernhari by Bernhari. (11 tracks, 46 minutes, $5.39).  Energetic Canadian instrumental band with elements of dream pop. Absolutely original.
  4. Your Old Droog by Your Old Droog. (18 tracks, 59 minutes for $6.49). It is rare when I stumble upon a rap album which 1)is not laced with profanity, 2)has nice musical elements and clever lyrics. This album is the pleasant exception. Ironically the singer (who was initially mistaken for NAS) is actually a young Ukrainian-American living in NYC.
  5. Total Strife Forever (Deluxe Edition), East India Youth. (12 tracks, 107 minutes, $8.99). This great electronic album also contains the 54 minutes “20,000 Leagues under the Sea.”
  6. Kalaboogie and the Prosper Project by Doomsquad. (Each about 45-55 minutes for $5.99). Electronic/percussion Toronto-based band with moody hypnotic effects — including the occasional vocals. Think Yo La Tengo with a dance beat.
  7. Another Way to Live and the World You’re Living In by Amber Digby. (35 minutes for each $5.88  album). This Houston native sings unassuming and winsome country songs which remind me a lot of Willie Nelson.
  8. Hanging Spoons by Gina Chavez. (12 tracks, 55 minutes, $5.88)  Eclectic half-Mexican Austin singer-songwriter who alternates between the Latino sound and Texas country — a little like Rosie Flores.
  9. Ways Over Water. Fritz Kalkbreiner. (13 tracks, 72 minutes, $5.19) Berlin electronic artist.
  10. Obsidian Spectre by  Crosss. (8 tracks, 42 minutes for $5.99). Grandiose and Symphonic-sounding heavy metal.
  11. Solstice by the Heaters. (8 tracks, 26 minutes, $3.92). Fierce surf-psychedelic garage rock by a Michigan band. A hard pounding drum beat ensures that you don’t get lost in the haze. This band has become one of my fave discoveries from this year’s SXSW.
  12. Life as a Dog by K-Flay (11 tracks, 44 minutes, $5.39). Gnarly and Arty rap by a San Francisco girl.
  13. Unorthodox by Sno that Product. (17 tracks, 49 minutes, $5.99). Latin rapping  by a tough-talking California girl. Think of Eminem, but it’s a lot more danceable. Actually she’s the Latino M.I.A. with lots of electro-pizzazz  underneath the lyrics. Some pottymouth-ery, but generally there’s a social purpose behind it.
  14. Ninety Thirty Thirty by Fielded. (11 tracks, 36 minutes, $5.39). Lyrical self-produced album by Lindsay Powell, a girl with a voice like Blondie, clever arrangements, surprising space melodies and deliberately slow tempos.
  15. Fantastic Negrito Deluxe EP. R& B with guitars. (7 tracks, 26 minutes, $3.43).
  16. Everyone you love will be happy soon.  by Quiet Company (15 tracks, 60 minutes, $5.99). Plaintive country rock.
  17. Loose Ends by Francisco the Man.  (10 tracks, 50  minutes, $6.99)
  18. Insides by Fort Rameau. (8 tracks, 52 minutes, $6.99).
  19. Under the Surface by Marit Larsen. 11 tracks, 37 minutes, $5.99.  Larsen is a Norwegian pop sensation and songwriter who seems like a less angrier version of Alanis Morissette.
  20. Where We All Live EP by Wheelchair Sports Camp. 6 tracks, 24 minutes for $2.94. A  sort of rap/jazz/punk band from Denver fronted by a rapping girl in a wheelchair. Sounds like a freakshow, but it’s actually good music — and also very fun.
  21. Black Hole Lace. by Kemp & Eden. (9 tracks, 30 minutes, $4.41)  Slow and Arty two-part harmony dream pop by two cute girls with offbeat lyrics.
  22. Selections from Analog Rebellion. Texas Songwriter  Daniel Hunter writes a lot of off the wall songs with bizarre themes and lyrics, but the music is always remarkable. Hunter’s band is prolific, and I ended up picking songs from all his albums.  The albums I took the most songs from included: Ancient Electrons, Evaders,  and Cavanaugh, Something.
  23. 1993-2003: 10 Years of K’s Choice. Compilation. 18 tracks, 64 minutes for $5.99 Laid back 90s grrl rock. It probably needs to be rowdier, but a good restrained Greatest Hits album.
  24. Waving at the Sun by K’s Choice.  12 tracks, 34 minutes, $5.88. More recent album by the band which is absolutely ethereal.
  25. You can’t take a bad girl home. Fabulous Ginn Sisters. (10 tracks, 33 minutes, $4.90).
  26. Collection 1: An Embarrassment of richard. by Richard Barone. (15 tracks, 63 minutes,  $5.99). Volume 1 compilation album of Richard Barone, singer for the Bongos and music producer who writes  slow catchy pop songs. Update: I also bought Collection 2: Before and Afterglow (22 tracks, 76 minutes, $5.99) which I liked even better. It’s slower, more interesting and still fun.
  27. 2 Albums by Secret Colours: Peach and Positive Distractions.
  28. Selections from Extra Classic. (From Showcase and  You Light like White Elephants).  This San Francisco group plays a lot of easygoing dub/reggae (more). The songs are somewhat interchangeable, but the girl’s singing and the jamming guitars makes it refreshing to listen to.
(The list above comes from my emusic purchase list on my blog ).  
(Personally, even though I have culled the SXSW stashes from years 2005-2014, I only started to rate them from 1 to 5 stars using the Amarok music player. In the 2014 stash (which includes the free SXSW samplers from emusic/NPR/amazon), I think I downloaded about 900-950 tracks,  I kept 839 of them.  I rated 200 tracks at 5 stars, 245 at 4 1/2 stars, 183 at 4 stars, 136 at 3 1/2 stars, 62 tracks, and the rest are 2 or 2 1/2 stars. Of course, these ratings are arbitrary. 5 stars are just gold, but the 4 1/2 stars are pretty awesome too. I often change my mind about the 3 stars too. 

(Sidenote: Listening to all these tracks have just made me intolerant of profanity-laced rap -- although I do try to keep an open-mind; every year or so I find a handful of very well made rap songs with F-bombs. A lot of the low-rated tracks are things I have "downgraded" mainly because the audio quality is substandard or there was too much profanity in it. Strangely, although I used to delete a lot of tracks after first listen, I have started to collect many favorite "Worst tracks" (almost 100% of which belong to the rap genre). 

(While my torrent client is currently downloading the songs, I recognize a few names but can't wait to discover all the unfamiliar names -- some of which is guaranteed to be gold). 

The listening odyssey begins.....


  • Good stuff, thanks for the recommendations and notes!  I also sympathize with the appeal of mineswept rap, and I'm no prude.  Someone could probably convince me that I am, but only if they used strong language.  I've got a few of the dumps, it's a wonderful firehose.  In the post A & R world, the search for the veins of gold takes many forms.

    p.s. Thanks to everyone who has posted a recommendation on this board.  Any work that compels a person to recommend it is a wonderful thing in my mind, even if I don't connect with it.
  • edited March 2016
    NPR also has a downloadable zip of 100 tracks by SXSW artists
    (33 of the tracks are dupes of what was in the original torrent, but in some cases the NPR version is higher quality audio than the version in the torrent....) 
  • Thanks very much for the NPR link Robert. I don't do torrents, so I've missed out a on SXSW the last few years,....
  • edited March 2017
    NPR has a free download of 100 mp3s from SXSW 2017 (to expire at the end of March). I just noticed that the 2017 version of the SXSW torrent will go public in the next 2 or 3 days. Will post an announcement here when that happens. 
  • The music torrent is here  1,201 files totaling 7.86GB.
  • The first part (975 tracks) of the 2018 SXSW music torrents are here! 6 gigs worth. Part 2 will be upon us in about two weeks. 

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