There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t worship the idea of getting something for nothing. With the onslaught of the Internet and with world-wide-web access at a high point, it seems like everything imaginable is at our fingertips, up for grabs. Downloading pirated or copyrighted music or video may not seem like stealing, but technically it is. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to find music and video content that is perfectly legal, and often free. You just have to know where to look.
YouTube (www.youtube.com) has become quite popular in recent months. A website with millions of personally uploaded original video content, YouTube is a great place to see a clip of, well, anything. Whether you’re looking for a certain scene from a specific episode of the Simpsons or the latest live performance of your favorite band, YouTube is the place to start. And with a few secret tips you can even download YouTube files to your hard drive and watch them using Quicktime, or convert them and watch them on your ipod. All you need is the Firefox browser (free and easily obtainable at www.mozilla.com), and a few minutes. Firefox supports the Greasemonkey extension, which can alter video scripts. Go to http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/ and install the Greasemonkey extension (also free) and then you’re all set. Just download the YouTube video script from www.userscripts.org, and the next time you watch a video on YouTube, you’ll see an extra link down at the bottom giving you the option to download it to your hard-drive. (When you download from YouTube, the files often have no file extension; if this happens just give it the extension “.flv” Then, you can download conversion tools (also free) like the Super video converter from www.erightsoft.com).
Stuff I recently downloaded from YouTube: clips galore from Family Guy and The Simpsons, as well as clips from live concert performances and interviews with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.
iTunes contains millions of songs and videos, all of which can be sampled for free. Granted, few people are satisfied with a mere thirty seconds of their favorite tracks, but it’s a good way to try before you buy, not to mention an amazing method of obtaining rare songs you can’t find anywhere else. The music isn’t expensive, and today bands are releasing iTunes-exclusive content, which is a good way for iTunes (and the bands) to make business and promote themselves. Arkansas rock band Evanescence, scheduled to release their sophomore album in October, is offering a web-based iTunes download of their album that downloads automatically as the album becomes available, including a never-before-released track only offered on iTunes. If you download the iTunes utility from www.apple.com, you’ll find that not only does it rearrange and organize your music for you, but it plays it for you as well, allowing you to create playlists and add them to your ipod.
MySpace has become the latest “it” website, where every company, band, movie, comedian, and everyone left over are getting a MySpace profile to promote their song or movie, etc. or simply to express themselves. MySpace is the best place for free music. Just register an account, click “Music” and find your favorite band, and you have some of their best songs right at your fingertips. The good thing about MySpace is that bands usually offer the songs in their entirety, and you can add them to your own MySpace profile, completely for free. However, some might not like MySpace since the songs aren’t downloadable, but sometimes a band will make their songs available for download. At Delerium’s new MySpace site, one of their rare songs “Wisdom” is downloadable, and the band Collide has several of its songs on its MySpace page, all free and available for download. MySpace is also a good way to see videos and keep up with the latest news from your favorite bands. Comedians like Dane Cook, Jim Gaffigan, etc., are all adding content to their profiles and some are sending out bulletins which inform you of upcoming shows, live performances, etc. Also, companies sometimes team up and offer free downloads as a way of encouraging visitors to purchase their items. Burger King recently teamed up with FOX on MySpace and is offering free downloads of some great FOX shows. Simply visit www.myspace.com/burgerking, and you can download episodes of shows like 24 and American Dad…for free!
All in all, music and video isn’t that difficult to obtain. Some of it does cost money but it’s worth paying mere nickels and dimes for something you can have forever, and all from the comfort of your own home. It sure is better than traveling out into the summer heat and going down to the nearest music store and waiting on long lines just to buy a CD whose songs you’ll rip onto your hard-drive the second you get home anyway!