These Are a Few of My Favourite Programs: Freegal

Okay, this program isn’t strictly book-related in and of itself, but it is offered as a service through my local public library, and I love it, so I’m going to review it.


Freegal (‘free’ + ‘legal’) is a way to legally download up to five free songs a week if you have a library card from a participating library. The music can be downloaded to your iWhatever device or an Android device, or to a computer. I download it to my laptop and Windows Media Player–it took me a couple tries to figure out how to put it in the right place, but once I did it’s quite easy (I had to reset my default download file). My favourite part is that you get to keep the songs forever–they don’t expire like borrowed ebooks. Free music! Cool! And no DRM (Digital Rights Management) to make things more complicated, although the FAQ does specify that copyright laws do apply.

The search function used to be a bit of a pain, but a recent update to Freegal 4.0 makes everything much easier to search & use, though I did have to relearn the layout of the site slightly. You used to be able to only search through one field at a time- artist, song title, album, etc. Now you can add multiple terms and it will search through everything. For example, a generic song title like “I Love You” will likely get a few hundred results–it’s much easier to specify the artist as well as the title. You can also play a free sample of each song without wasting a full download, so you can make sure that it’s the song that you want/that you like the song. A nice addition is that you can now search Freegal without being logged in. It’s also easier now to narrow down a search, by genre, then by artist, then album. It also added music videos, instead of just the music. You can browse through your library’s top ten downloads, or through the Canadian top ten downloads.

You can create a wishlist of songs as a reminder of what you want to download next week, since there is the five songs per week limit. Freegal also remembers what songs you download for up to 2 weeks, so if there’s a problem with your download you can try the same song again without wasting another space.

In terms of the selection, it’s pretty good, but it depends on what you’re looking for. I can’t find Jim Byrnes, Jann Arden, Queen, Bon Jovi, the Arrogant Worms, the Bedlam Bards, or Melissa Etheridge, but you can find Pink, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Backstreet Boys, Savage Garden, the Avenue Q soundtrack, Heather Dale, and One Direction. However, it doesn’t always include the artist(s)’s full catalogue, or even most of it. Freegal does advertise that it contains over 7 million songs, and is constantly adding more.

So, easier now to search, easy to use, and free music. The download limit is a little annoying, but just requires patience if you want a whole album as opposed to individual songs–unfortunately each song does have to be downloaded individually, there is no way to get an entire album as one download. For personal use, this is one of my favourite discoveries at the library.


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