As the Web radio business gets shaken up by demands for higher (some say deadly) royalties, some would-be online broadcasters are getting creative. Goombah went looking for indie labels who were interested in simply giving them the rights to distribute music, totally for free. (Here's where you interject a skeptical laugh.) Yes, on the Web, "free" usually means "totally crappy." But the Radio Free Goombah service announced today offers tracks from actual popular artists such as The Decemberists, Arcade Fire and Aesop Rock—in addition to the total crap. There are 1,500 tracks up now, and Goombah says there will be 20,000 by the end of the month.

The catch, after the jump...

Though this means free MP3s with no DRM issues, there are other issues. For starters, there's no set bit rate. An Arcade Fire MP3 I downloaded was 128Kbps; a Burning Spear track was 192Kbps. Also, you kind of have to listen to Goombah's radio service to get to the songs you want. You can skip through the tracks until you find one you want to keep, but you still have to pretend that it's Web radio. If you download the app and play around with the service, you can find a few back doors to getting free music, as well as a more customized selection of songs. Whether you do that or not depends on how committed you are to beating the system.


Radio Free Goombah [Goombah]