Transferring music files from a computer to an Apple iPod is extremely easy because the iTunes software application automates the process for you. This frees up your time to search the web for some great free tunes to add to your iPod playlists.
Legal Free Music Downloads
These sites offer large and varied collections of iPod-ready music for you to download, and all of them are legal to use. iPods support only AAC, MP3, WAV and AIFF music formats, so make sure that you're downloading the right format for your device.
iMesh features 15 million songs that you may download and sync to your iPod for free. The software is sanctioned by the Recording Industry Association of America, meaning that no copyright laws are being infringed by using this service. Note that you must first install iMesh on your PC and, after a certain period of time, you will be asked to pay a monthly fee and subscribe. You will still be able to use iMesh if you choose not to subscribe, but the software will automatically limit the songs you may access.
Free Music Download
The Free Music Download application for iPhones and iPads offers a vast collection of both free and retail songs that you may download directly to your device, after which you may upload them to your iPod. It supports English, Japanese and Korean languages, and it it includes album cover art. While there are plenty of songs available for purchase, you can sort all current tracks to quickly find those that are available at no charge.
Last.fm includes 12 million mainstream and underground songs that users may download in MP3 format. Since these tracks are absolutely free, however, you're not apt to find any recent Billboard singles. If you're looking for new artists or something a little different, however, it's worth spending some time browsing through the various genres. The site also contains social networking features that allow you to recommend songs to your friends or listen to songs recommended by others.
Free Music Archive
The Free Music Archive is an iPod-safe online music library containing 45,000 songs that may be streamed or downloaded under the Creative Commons license. The site came about in 2006 courtesy of a grant from the New York State Music Fund, designed to make contemporary music more available to residents of New York. The Free Music Archive hosts only music from relatively unknown, independent artists.
Jamendo provides access to over 55,000 royalty-free albums from a variety of artists and genres, including pop, folk instrumental, rock instrumental, jazz, Latin and many more. Album songs may be downloaded in either Ogg Vorbis or MP3 format. Furthermore, the site also hosts social networking capabilities, thus allowing you to interact with other listeners.
The Audio Archive contains more than just user-generated music downloads; it also includes interviews, live music recordings, public news and even non-English collections from around the world. You can also stream live concerts, as well as some of the latest Arabic hit songs. Also note that though the founders of Audio Archive make every attempt to remove copyrighted content from the site, there is no guarantee that every single downloadable song has been checked for copyright infringement.
Legalities of Free Downloads
While free music sites abound online, it's easy to stumble across those that are offering illegal downloads. Usually current and popular music is only available for purchase, so if you find a site that offers today's top hits for free you're likely headed into murky legal territory. Remember that downloading copyrighted music without permission is illegal, so pick and choose your download sites carefully. Check the terms and conditions of each site, and if they don't address the legal issue and guarantee that their offerings are safe, move along to a different source that does.
Load Up Your iPod for Less
Even if you can't get the latest hits or mainstream chart-toppers for free, finding great music at no cost will give you loads of tracks to enjoy on your iPod. Discover new artists and genres, share your finds with your friends, and save some money in the process.