Your Library Has a Free Music Service That You Probably Didn't Know About

iStock
iStock

Did you know that you can download free music from your local library? Music that you can keep. That's right: not borrow, keep.

It's all possible thanks to a service called Freegal (a portmanteau of free and legal), which gives patrons of participating libraries access to 15 million songs from 40,000 labels, notably including the Sony Music Entertainment catalog. All you need is a library card.

Here's how it works: You can download a few songs a week, and, in many areas, enjoy several hours of streaming, too (the precise number of songs and hours of streaming varies by library). Once you download MP3 files, they're yours. You're free to put them on iTunes, your iPhone, your tablet, and more. You don't have to return them and they don't expire. The counter resets on Mondays at 12:01 a.m. Central Time, so if you hit your limit, you won't have long to wait before you get more downloads. And Freegal has some great stuff: A quick scan of the front page reveals music from Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Cardi B, Simon & Garfunkel, Childish Gambino, The Avett Brothers, Lykke Li, and Sara Bareilles.

Freegal has been around since 2010 and is offered at libraries worldwide. In the U.S., that includes the New York Public Library, Queens Library, Los Angeles Public Library, West Chicago Public Library, Houston Public Library, and more. In the past few years, libraries have debuted some other amazing free digital services, from classic films streaming on Kanopy to audiobooks and e-books available to borrow on SimplyE and OverDrive. But the thing that's so exciting about Freegal is that you can keep the MP3 files, unlike services that limit you to borrowing.

Freegal's site is easy to navigate: You can browse playlists and make your own, check out the most popular tunes, and save songs to your wishlist for when you get more credits. In the old days, music fans would check out CDs from the library and upload them onto their computers before returning them. But Freegal eliminates the need to go to your local branch, check out an album, and bring it back when you're done.

Freegal app
Freegal

To find out if your local library has Freegal, go to freegalmusic.com and click login, then search for your area. It's important to note: Your library's contract might not have both streaming and downloading privileges. You can use Freegal on the web or as an app available on the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon. Of course, the service doesn't have everything. And sometimes, when it does have an artist, it will only have a few of their most popular albums. But if you frequently buy music on iTunes or elsewhere, checking Freegal first may save you a bit of money.

If you don't yet have a library card, Freegal is just one more reason why you should get one ASAP.

Elvis and Priscilla Presley's Mobile Home Is Hitting the Auction Block

Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

Want to live like The King? It might not be exactly what you had in mind, but the two-bedroom mobile home once owned by Elvis and Priscilla Presley is an important piece of Presley history—and it could be yours.

The 60-foot Delta mobile home, which was once stationed on Elvis’s Circle G Ranch near Graceland, will go under the hammer at the “Legends: Iconic Film & Music Memorabilia” sale hosted by GWS Auctions on August 25.

The mobile home
GWS Auctions

Inside the mobile home
GWS Auctions

Elvis used the mobile home as a getaway in the 1960s, and after he and Priscilla got married in Las Vegas in 1967, the newlyweds spent part of their honeymoon shacked up inside the ranch-on-wheels. Elvis also bought eight additional house trailers and placed them on his property to accommodate his “Memphis Mafia" entourage, according to the auction house.

The mobile home was recently restored, but it remains true to the original condition it was in when the Presleys lived there. It comes with the original paperwork and bill of sale, which was signed by Elvis in 1967. Last year, GWS also auctioned off Presley’s childhood home in Mississippi.

Also up for grabs in the “Legends” auction is Elvis’s Gideon Bible, with passages that he personally underlined, as well as his beloved 1977 Cadillac Seville. Michael Jackson’s bejeweled glove, an invitation to the wedding of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, and a Munchkin coat made for The Wizard of Oz are among some of the many other pop culture treasures that could be yours.

Who Wrote The Beatles' 'In My Life'? According to Math, It Was John Lennon

Evening Standard/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Getty Images

One of the last remaining Beatles mysteries has finally been solved. For decades, no one knew for certain which Beatle wrote the 1965 song “In My Life”—Paul McCartney claimed to have written the music, but John Lennon said that McCartney only wrote part of it.

Now, academics have used a statistical method to get to the bottom of the song’s origin, and the numbers show that neither musician remembered it correctly, as NPR reports. According to a paper recently presented at a major statistics conference, Lennon wrote the entire song himself.

Lennon and McCartney shared a joint credit for all of the songs they wrote, regardless of the division of work. This reportedly stems back to an agreement they made as teenagers. Jason Brown, a mathematics professor at Canada's Dalhousie University, spent at least 10 years trying to crack the puzzle of who actually wrote “In My Life.”

Even though the two artists undoubtedly rubbed off on each other artistically during their years together, the two musicians still had their preferences, which can be charted and quantified. Brown and his co-authors—a mathematician and an engineering professor—analyzed individual notes, chords, and other components in dozens of Beatles songs to determine how often they appear in the Lennon-McCartney song catalog, identifying 149 distinct musical transitions in the Beatles oeuvre. Those stylistic choices are unique to the individual songwriter.

“When you do the math by counting the little bits that are unique to the people, the probability that McCartney wrote ["In My Life"] was .018—that's essentially zero,” Stanford mathematician Keith Devlin, who was not involved in the study, explained to NPR. “In other words, this is pretty well definitive. Lennon wrote the music.”

While some might be skeptical of reducing a creative process to numbers, Devlin said this method is “much more reliable than people’s recollections,” especially given the “incredibly altered mental state” that The Beatles found themselves in throughout much of the ’60s. And this isn't the first analysis of its kind. Another study in 2014 [PDF] determined that lyrics and algorithms could also be used to determine whether a song was written by McCartney or Lennon.

This wasn't Brown's first investigation into The Beatles' songwriting process, either. Back in 2008, he used sound-wave analysis to figure out how The Beatles created the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night,” hypothesizing that it was a combination of guitar, bass, and piano.

Lennon once said in an interview that he was inspired to write “In My Life” after a journalist suggested he model more songs after his own life experiences. Lennon later said that he considered the song to be his first major, meaningful piece of work, adding that, “Up until then, it had all been glib and throwaway.”

[h/t NPR]

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