On the Bulletin’s free music downloads

The Bulletin announced today that they are offering free music downloads on their site: an album’s worth of music from local bands, and an album’s worth from national bands (15 each). For anyone who’s familiar with the usual online offerings/technical abilities of the Bulletin, this is a Big Deal—the web end of things is not their strong point (to put it nicely). However, I’ve been checking out the site a bit, and so far I’m impressed with what I see.

I had a heads-up that this was coming from the Bulletin’s music writer, Ben Salmon; he had reached out to spread the word on this and (I think) was also a driving motivator in getting this launched. He writes:

Basically, we’ve collected 30 of the best songs of 2007 – 15 from Central Oregon artists and 15 from non-local artists – and offered them for free download (no subscription needed) at www.bendbulletin.com/nearfar. Folks can stream the songs, download individual MP3s, or download each collection in its own .zip file (complete with CD artwork and tracklisting). They’re split into:

"Near" – featuring locals like Coyo, Person People, The Mostest, Shireen Amini, The Roe, The Erins, The Bond Brothers and more
"Far" – featuring non-locals like The Shins, Arcade Fire, Aesop Rock, Blue Scholars, Band of Horses, Blitzen Trapper and more

(Please note: Downloading the .zips takes a little while, so patience is needed.)

There are also short write-ups of the bands and/or their 2007 albums, links to band sites, MySpace profiles and record labels, and a YouTube video where we could find one, plus The Bulletin’s coverage of the best albums and concerts of the year as well as the favorites of people connected to Central Oregon’s music scene.

It’s an impressive undertaking for the Bulletin, and like I said, so far I’m impressed with the site. Not only can you download each album (the zip files are 69 and 62 megabytes in size), but you can also listen to each song embedded in the page (or download it directly) via a Flash player—so you can sample the music before deciding to download it (as it should be).

Plus, the fact that the Bulletin is able to offer this music for download for free, in DRM-less MP3 format, is awesome—much more progressive than I would’ve expected from the Bulletin.

Of course, I’d like to see more of this—especially the local music, which is worth promoting. The Bulletin could move to become the online source for discovering local music by doing so; I don’t know of any other site that can claim this (searching MySpace Music is one possibility, but it’s not that great an option).

All said and done, I like this idea well enough that I’m going to install the banner graphic in the sidebar of this site for awhile in the adspace. (With the other buttons.) Check it out.