There are lots of free services available to download and stream music, but Freegal is my favorite. If you can get past the goofy name—it comes from Free + Legal music streaming—I'm sure it will join your regular app rotation.
When Freegal first launched, I used it to look up my favorite songs and bands, and with more than 15 million songs in their database, I often had pretty good luck. Now, I use their curated playlists and find new artists and albums that I might not otherwise have discovered. You can download up to five songs per week as MP3 files (this works great on my computer), or you can stream for up to three hours per day. I like this feature because I can hit "skip" as many times as I want without being subjected to ads or pushed into upgrading to a paid account (ah-hem, Spotify). I can make my own playlists, but most of the time, I try the ones they've put together for my every mood. Here are some of the playlists in my current collection.
- 90's Hip-Hop Classics features Wu-Tang Clan, Too Short, and Fugees—plus Pras, Lauryn Hill, and Wyclef Jean in their solo careers. When a friend from library school put out a Facebook plea for music to help her stay awake while completing notes for a lengthy presentation, this playlist came to mind.
- The Coffee House is my I-don't-know-what-I'm-in-the-mood-for playlist. Oddissee, Grace VanderWaal. Simon & Garfunkel, Childish Gambino … it's got a lot of different sounds. And if a song comes up and I'm not feeling it, I can press "next."
- Spring Cleaning is a new addition.You get "So Fresh, So Clean" by OutKast followed by Beyonce's "Countdown" and then "Suds in the Bucket" by Sara Evans. Part of the fun is figuring out how a song ended up in this playlist. As you get farther down the list, there are some pretty clever ones.
And then there are some of my own playlists: Adele, Johnny Cash, Pink, and my current favorite classical music album. (For the record, it's Nils Erikson's "Revelations for a Piano.") When Sara Bareilles was the musical guest on SNL a few weeks ago, I could pull up her newest album "Amidst the Chaos" as well as some of her earlier work. With Freegal, I can try out new artists and find old favorites without running up my iTunes bill. What's not to love?
Leah Dodd is the director of Willard Library. She is currently reading "How to Stop Time" by Matt Haig and listening "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones on the Libby app…when she's not jamming to Justin Timberlake on the Freegal app.