Indie Radio Station Launches Free Music Site

At a time when some of the big music sites are raising their prices, one new venture is offering to give its music library away for nothing — on the theory that free tunes will actually increase sales by introducing people to music they wouldn’t otherwise have known about.

WFMU, an independent radio station in New York City with audiences online and on terrestrial radio, launched the Free Music Archives today. The database consists of individual tracks that users can download for free and listen to on portable devices, or as music for audio or video productions and other miscellaneous uses, like podcasts (via ReadWriteWeb).

Based on a quick scan, the database mostly consists of tracks from unsigned artists or those on small, independent labels. And therein lies the big challenge for WFMU: While giving away music may provide much-needed attention to the new acts, it’s unlikely to drive a material amount of sales, as these acts still won’t have the marketing and promotion muscle that signed acts do. We were not able to reach WFMU to find out if any larger acts are included in the service.

WFMU has partnered with fellow indie music champions KEXP, dublab, KBOO, ISSUE Project Room and CASH Music to choose those tracks they feel represents the best new music available today. The move follows on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Universal Music Group and YouTube formed their own partnership called Vevo — that one is a for-profit venture, though.