Library now offers free music downloads

It’s not Napster.

But it’s close. And it’s legal.

Partnering with Freegal, a service that allows access to music online, the Kitsap Regional Library now offers free, downloadable music to all library members. Under the partnership, users will be able to download up to three songs a week from a catalog of more than 1.5 million tunes.

The songs, mostly a collection from Sony Music and a group of independent record companies, are accessible from any home computer and the nine library branches.

Downloadable songs are another way Kitsap Regional Library has increased its overall online collection of materials, said John Fossett, KRL’s collection manager. Joining with Freegal and the Library Ideas network of public library websites that offer free access to songs brings the library’s resources right into people’s homes.

“Offering these songs is another way to add to our electronic resources,” Fossett said. “We thought our patrons would be interested in the service.”

Freegal allows up to three song downloads a week. The songs are high-quality MP3 files that are compatible with iTunes and other music library software. The files are legal downloads, guaranteed to be free of viruses, Fossett said.

“They are great, quality files,” he said. “Perfect for a sound system.”

Since the free service started on Jan. 26, Fossett said more than 400 songs had been downloaded by Tuesday night, with 135 unique users for an average of 68 tracks per day. The lion’s share of the downloads were pop songs, he said.

He expects the number to increase over time as more people learn of the service. The service was something the library has been negotiating with for a while, and it wasn’t until the price came down and the catalog of songs went up that KRL was able to partner with Freegal.

“We stayed away so long because it was a cost thing,” he said. “But the price point came down and they basically tripled the size of the database.”

Fossett has started to download music into his private collection. He downloaded some classic rock tunes to listen to while cooking dinner.

“I was cranking some Loggins & Messina,” he said with a laugh. “That is, if you can crank Loggins & Messina.”

Library users can download music by visiting and clicking on the Books, Movies and Music tab. From there, users should click Download Music from Freegal to access the catalog.

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