Although the outlaw days of downloading free music from Napster are gone, the question remains: where can music be downloaded legally without the fees typically involved with iTunes?
Luckily, the Mamaroneck and Larchmont Public Libraries—along with all libraries within the Westchester Library System (WLS)—will now be able to access the entirety of the Sony music catalog.
Beginning Saturday, Dec. 1, Westchester residents will now be able to access over three million songs on 10,000 labels utilizing the Freegal Music Service, said Mamaroneck Public Library Director Susan Riley.
“Residents with a valid library card are able to download up to three songs per week,” said Riley.
The Freegal project is funded by the WLS and individual county library budgets, said Riley, who added that each library within the system pays a fee to be part of the WLS; the Mamaroneck Library’s share is $80,000 per year. A portion of the money contributed by individual libraries was set aside to pay for the new service.
Westchester is not the first county to have jumped on the Freegal bandwagon, whose current subscribers include the New York Public Library as well as libraries located in Connecticut, Oregon, California , Washington and Virginia. Freegal is operated by the privately-owned, Virginia-based company Library Ideas, LLC.
Unlike e-book downloads, residents utilizing the Freegal site can keep their free music indefinitely. They must, however, access the site through the library website where he or she is a cardholder, said Riley.
“We have been waiting a long time for a service like this that delivers great music, compatibility with lots of devices and simplicity of use. We think this will be incredibly popular with our patrons and will help the Library in marketing all its services to the community,” said Riley.
For Mamaroneck residents, the Freegal Music Service can be accessed by clicking here on or after Dec. 1 and entering a valid library card and pin number. They will be able to search for music in several different categories including artist and genre; MP3s can be loaded onto an iPhone or into iTunes and will work with any MP3 player, according to the website.
Riley, a runner who frequently updates her music playlist, admits she has already caught the downloading bug.
“I immediately went to see if Eric Clapton was there and he was,” she said.