There is no shortage of music apps available, and many of them are free. I seem to try just about every one I find because, well, I love music and I am always on the hunt for these programs. I use apps to help clean up my library, I use special players, I backup music to Google Music and more.
My latest find is called MP3Jam. It is a simple but surprisingly capable free tool for locating and downloading anything from individual songs to entire albums.
Get the App
This is just the kind of app which I would expect to try and set up several browser toolbars during the installation process. However no, there were not any. Had the program gone ahead and installed something anyway, without asking? No, everything was checked out.
The legality of this app may be a bit questionable, given the simple fact of what it is capable of doing. With that in mind, the maker posts a disclaimer at the bottom of the web site.
“Free MP3jam uses open music repositories of YouTube. All contents are copyrighted and owned by their respective owners. MP3jam does not encourage or condone the illegal duplication or distribution of copyrighted content. Music downloads must be for time-shifting or device-shifting purposes and for personal, private, non-commercial uses only”.
Setup is fairly straight forward and, as I said, there is no software that attempts to come along for the ride. Language choices include English, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese.
The app does ask if you wish to install HotSpot Shield, which is a legitimate VPN program, and you mush choose a Yes or No. You can not simply click Next and move on. Another program, ARO, also throws up this prompt during installation of MP3Jam.
The Main Screen
It does not get much simpler than this. There are two tabs located at the top of the page — Search & Downloads and History. Below are several options for genres of music — Classical, Electronic, Hip Hop, Indie, Jazz, Metal, Pop, R&B and Rock. Clicking any of these displays a list of popular music within that category.
Click on your genre of choice and scroll down through the music that is featured. Alternatively, you will spot a large search bar just beneath the tabs. Click in the box and type in an artist, album or song title, while the program displays popular matching choices as you type, very much as Google search does. Hit the enter button to return in-depth results, including album art, release dates and track lengths.
Results appear quickly and each album will display the first several tracks, with an option to click “more tracks” beneath the bottom one to see everything.
Play controls appear across the bottom of the screen — Play/Pause Forwards and Reverse, along with volume control.
Get your Music
Under each album you will find an option to download the entire thing. If your wish to either listen to or download an individual tracks then both of these options can be discovered to the left of each song title.
You can also share the track or album with social networks Facebook and Twitter.
If you choose to download then once you hit the button, you will be taken to a screen that displays the progress. It reminds me somewhat of the Windows Media Player display as a CD is being ripped. The downloads are very quick.
Once the download is complete an “Open Folder” option appears in the place of “Download Album”. Click to visit your new music which, by default, goes to the “My Music” folder under Users – Name in Windows.
The download includes the cover art. It also contains most ID3 tags — this may vary based on the album or track. In this case, I was missing track numbers, but all other information was present.
The History tab is simple — it just displays your download history. There are no other options on this page. You can still choose to play tracks from here though.
Settings can be accessed by clicking the gear (or cog if you prefer) icon at the top right of the page. The settings page is simple — only a few options appear within it.
You can choose where content is pulled from, though there are only two choices — YouTube and vk.com. The latter is a social network, self-described as “VK is the largest European social network with more than a 100 million active users”.
From this page you can also choose where your files are saved to and also tell the program to prompt you, each time you download, to choose a location. You can also change the language settings, view the version number and make a donation to the developer.
In the End
As I stated earlier, I am not completely comformatable with the legality of this app. After all, you are downloading free music, meaning it is almost certainly not within the parameters of what the recording industry would consider fair use.
On the other hand, the app works incredibally well. Search and download is extremely fast. Setup and settings are very simple. It found almost every bit of music I threw at it and displayed all with detailed information and album art. It is also free, and there is something to be said for that as well.
In conclusion, you must make your own decision regarding how you feel about using such a service. Personally, while I certainly liked it, I shall stick to buying my music from Amazon MP3.