Many websites such as FreeMusicArchive, NoiseTrade and Amazon all offer a collection of free and legal music downloads. When downloading music that is free on the Internet, it is important to make sure that the site is both reputable and legal, as there can be severe penalties for downloading music illegally.
Reputable free music download websites often serve as a way for musicians to advertise their music and get their name out into the public. This means that many times the free music is new and largely unheard material. For individuals who want to listen to popular music, websites such as Pandora and Spotify stream the most popular songs and artists, but they do not allow users to download the material.
Illegal downloading of music is a crime that continues to grow on the Internet. There are many sites that find loopholes in the law and offer shared files of copyrighted music, but individuals who are found to be in possession of these songs are considered thieves. In one case, a Boston University graduate student was ordered to pay a $675,000 fine for illegally downloading music and movies online, and international law continues to try to fight the spread of pirated music.