iTunes is an excellent way of organizing, storing, and downloading music. Even better if you can do it for free. A variety of free options are available directly from the iTunes store, and a little investigating can also yield you a wide variety of different sound files that you don’t have to pay for on the Internet. You can learn to download free songs and open them in iTunes, whether they came from the store or not.
Downloading Free Songs from iTunes
1 – Start an iTunes account. If you want to upload and download content, free or otherwise, you need to make sure you have an iTunes account to browse the store and select among your options. Load your payment information and other necessary data into the homepage, and include the necessary information.
- Update to the most current version of iTunes. It’s always best to use the most updated version of iTunes, especially if you want to look for deals and free songs through the iTunes service. Under the iTunes tab, select “Check for updates” and update the software, if necessary before you begin.
2 – Look for the Free Song of the Day. Once you’ve opened iTunes, navigate to the iTunes store by clicking on the tab in the top right corner. On the right side of the iTunes homepage, you should find a list called “Quick Links,” toward the bottom of which you may select “Free on iTunes.” Select it and browse the options.
- Each day, iTunes updates this list, making it a great way to find out about new content and start downloading things for free. From new music singles to music-related free podcasts, this page is an excellent way to download music and other content that will load directly into iTunes.
3 – Look for other iTunes offers. Free music is available in other ways on iTunes, from promotional offers that include free album downloads (U2’s Songs of Innocence was released for free exclusively on iTunes), to the free iTunes radio features, there’s a variety of content that you can listen to without paying for it.
- Make sure you’re signed up for the iTunes mailing list so that you’ll be aware instantly of new updates and free songs that you can download while you’ve got time.
4 – Load a gift card into the iTunes store. While this isn’t strictly-speaking free, if you get a gift card as a gift, it might be free to you. On the right-hand side of the homepage, click on “Redeem Gift card” and upload the information into the window to earn store credit for your gift. Then, keep track of how much is left on it and make your selections. The payment will come directly from your credit with the store.
Finding Free Music Files
1 – Visit websites that offer free MP3 downloads. Many music blogs offer free downloads of mixtapes, singles, or EP tracks as a promotion for the bands and artists coming out with new records. Doing some exploring in the world of music journalism can help you come up with some promotional singles and free downloads.
- Pitchfork, Aquarium Drunkard, and the collection are good sites for finding out about new music and picking up the occasional free downloads. These websites generally make their music available in the form of MP3’s that you can directly drop into your iTunes library.
- Although the quality of the tracks are sometimes questionable, they’re a quick and dirty way to get the songs you need quickly and for free. These tracks are already MP3s, so they can definitely be played on iTunes.
- Just open iTunes, open your Library, and drag and drop your tracks into the window, or right-click and open them in iTunes. After a few moments, they should be processed and available for listening.
2 – Download free mix-tapes. Hip-hop acts, both mainstream and underground, have embraced a new digital way of networking, revolving around free downloads of album-length projects called mix-tapes. As old analog mix-tapes were once passed from artists to record execs, new mix-tapes are available for free online as a way of advertising new music and keeping buzz around established artists.
- Some artists choose to release mix-tapes directly from their own websites or Bandcamp pages, but the website DatPiff is the home of mix-tape culture on the internet. The “Featured Mix-Tapes” tab allows unregistered users to download as many “Featured” tapes as you want, at no cost.
- While the site caters to unsigned artists and underground acts like Mick Jenkins or Action Bronson, established rappers from Lil Wayne to T.I. to Raekwon also frequently release free mix-tapes to keep the buzz going around their next record.
- There are limits on unfettered tapes, though for-pay memberships will allow you to download as many tapes as you want. If you’re a hip-hop head, DatPiff is an essential free shopping place.
3 – Find up-and-coming artists. Radiohead changed the way the music business works by releasing their record In Rainbows based on a pay-what-you-want scale. The idea that many music listeners will listen to anything, as long as its free, many undiscovered artists are eager to get their music out to listeners, and are less concerned with immediate revenues, so they release tracks and EPs or even full albums without charge on websites such as SoundCloud or Bandcamp. Explore these websites based on genre descriptions or popular “Featured” artist pages to find out about free tunes you might be able to nab and explore.
- Pay-what-you-want pay scales often look as if you’re going to be required to pay, but you can just insert a zero in the payment window. You won’t be charged anything.
4 – Subscribe to music podcasts. Many online radio shows and podcasts will play music that allow you to essentially listen to music for free. While you won’t be able to download the individual tracks, you can subscribe to the podcast and listen to free tunes as much as you want. Free music podcasts available for downloading to your mobile device or desktop computer include:
- Country Classics. Hosted by Joe Bussard, the man with the largest collection of 78 rpm records in the world, this podcast features pre-war country, blues, and hillbilly music. It’s a wonderful collection of oddities hosted by a total weirdo. And it’s free!
- NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Short concerts held in the NPR studios and made available for free download. A great way to hear your favorite artists in an intimate setting, for free.
- Theme Time Radio Hour. Originally included on Sirius XM Radio, you can download all of Bob Dylan’s radio show, featuring everything from Koco Taylor to the Beastie Boys, for free online.
5 – Download the audio tracks off of YouTube videos. You can find an enormous collection of music on YouTube, and many websites offer video-downloading services that allow you to download a file that contains the stripped audio track of a YouTube video, allowing you to paste in the URL of a YouTube video, it’ll give you an MP3 track of just the sound.
- Listen to YouTube, Tube To MP3, and YouTube to MP3, and All2MP3 are freeware programs that will all accomplish this for you. Download the software, install it, and copy the link into the browser. These will produce MP3’s, so you can put them right into iTunes.
- The best trick is to find artists on YouTube first and then browse their profiles for links to other media-sharing sites, where they may make available more extensive discographies of their music, check out their Bandcamp pages or other social media for options and for new artists.
6 – Get music from your friends. Ask friends whose taste you trust to make you mix CDs of their favorite songs and then upload them into your iTunes list. Better yet, there are many file-storing and sharing services available for free, like Dropbox, which allows you to store documents, files, and folders online that you can share with others. Make your own separate accounts, and then simply have them drop any good tracks they have into a shared folder that you can retrieve from your own computer and onto iTunes.
7 – Download Torrent files using a client. Torrents are large, encrypted files that need to be unpacked after downloading, using a Torrent downloading client, such as uTorrent or Frostwire. Use online torrent finders like Pirate Bay to find specific files and unpack and download them using the torrent client, or just search directly on the client itself. Once downloaded, drag and drop the files directly into iTunes to listen.
Moving Music to iTunes
1 – Drag and drop to open songs in iTunes. After you’ve downloaded your free music, the next step is opening it up in iTunes and listening. iTunes is fairly easy program to negotiate, making this a relatively easy step in most cases. If you’ve just downloaded a file or two, you can open iTunes first, and drag the files directly into the open window of your Library. The file should open in a few seconds.
- If the file doesn’t open, right-click on the file icon and go to “Get Info” to find out what kind of file it is. If it’s other than an MP3, you might need to reformat to open it in iTunes.
2 – Right-click and select iTunes as your default program. If your files ended up in your Download folder, you can also open the files by double or right-clicking on the files and selecting iTunes as your default program to open them. On most computers, iTunes should already be selected as the default.
3 – Unzip files, if necessary. Many larger files such as mixtapes may be packaged in the form of zip files that you must unzip. Many newer operating systems come pre-equipped to zip and unzip files, but older OS’s may require third-party software such as WinZip in order to do so.
- Reformat other file formats to MP3. Occasionally, you might end up with MP4 files, AAC, .wav, or other varieties of sound files that you may not be able to open instantly with iTunes. Each file may need to be reformatted before you’ll be able to play it in iTunes, which only plays a limit variety of sound files.