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I was a big fan of Imeem.com since it started. Mainly because it allowed music fans to upload their favorite songs, so other people could stream them. It was a democratic music concept if ever there was one.

MySpace initially blocked Imeem playlists and songs from its website. Of course that was because MySpace was planning to essentially copy Imeem’s free streaming model.

Earlier in 2009, when Imeem pulled the plug on uploading videos, it was “the writing on the wall”. In early December of 2009, MySpace purchased Imeem. It was the end of  a classic site dedicated to free music. Much like the recent acquisition of LaLa by Apple, the acquisition of smaller Internet companies by corporate beasts continues (i.e. Google buying YouTube). Now the only question is whether Imeem will have any influence on MySpace’s Music section, now that most of the site’s users have migrated to Facebook.

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If MySpace took away the need for band websites, then YouTube has taken it one step further and made live footage of bands accessible to anybody with a broadband connection. The Huntingtons were one of my favorite bands since the mid 90s and I booked a show with them when I lived up in Minneapolis. My friend Tommy was in the band briefly and did all the artwork on “Fun and Games”. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw  a bunch of Huntingtons videos even though the band is broken up.

There is a lot of free music out there that you could be listening to instead of paying to download stuff from iTunes or Amazon. There are a ton of sites that have streaming music including myspace.com, facebook.com, purevolume.com, virb.com, last.fm, imeem.com, free.napster.com and others.

MySpace features up to six songs on a music profile and the site has replaced the need for many bands to have regular websites. Facebook is still relatively new to the music scene and not every band is on there yet, but there will be more music on there eventually. PureVolume rose from the ashes of MP3.com and it has taken a step back since MySpace came along, but there are still lots of music on there at 96 kbps, unlike most other sites that are 128 kbps. Virb.com is like another MySpace, which may or may not have the same songs as a band’s MySpace.

After the demise of Napster, it became a music subscription site where you can subscribe to the massive catalog of windows media drm-controlled songs for a fee each month. Free Napster is a site that features songs from the service streaming at low bitrates. The quality isn’t the best, but if you want to listen to a whole song and you can’t find it anywhere else this is the place to find it (it’s a catalog of millions of songs).

Imeem.com is a music social networking site. You can upload your own personal MP3s (of your band and your favorite bands) to the site and other people can stream them. Any remotely popular music can be found on the site. Imeem requires people to sign up and login to hear all the songs, but the best part of the site is the playlists that you can make. Last.fm is another music social networking site based in the UK. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it until it started letting users stream songs. There are tons of full albums that stream on the site. You don’t have to sign in to listen to music, which is a plus. However, I don’t think it has the playlist ease of Imeem.com since you have to browse the band’s albums to see which tracks are available for streaming.

There are a lot of sites that also include 30 second samples like iTunes and Amazon. YouTube is probably the best place to find music videos and the audio for its videos are encoded as MP3s. The beauty of YouTube and Imeem is that people are able to upload whatever they want (not always good for copyright holders) and this allows for more people to hear music they would never hear before. Funeral services will likely be held for major record labels and compact discs, but the exciting thing for listeners is that free music isn’t going away anytime soon.