Last fall, I discovered a website called Songza, which advertises itself as audiences listening to “music curated by music experts.” Organized by playlists and genres, you can select whatever type of music you’re in the mood for based upon a few different factors.
For example, Songza allows you to select what time of day it is, and then what style of music you’re currently searching for—“Brand New Music,” “Enjoying the Morning,” or “Working (no lyrics),” to help pinpoint the best station for you at that specific moment in time. After that, it’s as easy as selecting the genre you feel like listening to, and then the site will start streaming your jams.
Alternatively, one of my favorite features is that you can also search for stations or playlists you’ve enjoyed before. One of my regulars is “Downtempo Instrumentals,” because it provides a nice blend of music that blocks out other noise as I work on campus or in a coffee shop. Similar to Spotify or Pandora, you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to songs as they play, improving the station you’ve selected.
While you won’t find the Billboard’s Top 40 Hits on this site, it’s a great resource to use when you want some music to accompany your work, cooking, travel, or other activities. Happy listening!
Nowadays, it’s easy to find music streaming websites that allow you to listen to as much music as you want. You create a radio station of an artist and they’ll play that artist along with artists in the similar genre. What if you wanted a playlist specifically tailored to the artist or genre you were listening to? 8tracks allows users to create playlists for virtually every kind of mood, genre, and activity.
Tag lined as “Radio, rediscovered,” you can click on the genre characteristics you wish to hear or search any “mood, genre, or artist.” Upon creating a profile, you have the ability to create your own playlists or other 8tracks users to search, find, and listen to, as well as follow other users who have created custom playlists. On your homepage, 8tracks will display your listening history, liked mixes, mix feed (recent playlists created by the users you follow), recommendations based on your previous searches and listening history, featured playlists, top trending playlists, and newest. Playlists range in anything from top 40 mixes, classical listening, and party jams. Search around and see what you can find.
WeFunk Radio is one of my absolute favorite music websites ever. I’ve been a loyal fan for upwards of 10 years. WeFunk combines the best hip hop, r&b, funk, trip hop, classic soul, and more into a mix of headbobbing handwaving goodness. DJ Static and Professor Groove dig deep for their shows, uncovering tracks you’d never heard before and mixing them into a one of a kind setlist that you’ll only find on WeFunk.
When I’m on the prowl for new music WeFunk is the first place I turn. From this site I’ve been turned on to Goapele, Mayer Hawthorne, K-Os, and Quantic Soul Orchestra, to name a few.
The site offers multiple ways of listening. I will often just start up the 24 hour radio stream and see what transpires. However, there are around 700 shows archived for you to listen to at your leisure, in addition to mobile apps and desktop widgets. AND DJ Static and Professor Groove broadcast live from Montreal on Friday nights. For music lovers, WeFunk is one of the internet’s best kept secrets. Get to listening!
In addition to the Wall of Films and Folkstreams, here are MORE websites with FREE movies. The possibilities in having access to all of these films are endless – watch them in your classes, assign them to your students to watch, or watch them at home in your pajamas with your cats (maybe that’s just me).
Folkstreams.net is a digital archive of documentaries about American folk and roots cultures. This archive has two primary goals: first, to build a national archive of hard-to-find documentaries, and second, to give these films new purpose by making them available for streaming on the internet. Much of the films on Folkstreams are accompanied by published research, essays, and other support materials like “making of” features and transcripts.
The caveat with Folkstreams, and I want to be very upfront here, is that these films are made available for free by the filmmaker for home streaming only. For more info see Folkstream’s Rights page.
One of my favorite films on this site is Carnival Train, a documentary about the last carnival to travel from town to town by train. Carnival Train follows the James E. Strates’ Show up and down the east coast, from Florida to upstate New York. You really get a sense of the work it takes to not just put on a carnival, but to then pack the midway and all its people into boxcars.
Carnivals not your thing? No worries! Folkstreams also has lots of films on music - Cigarette Blues, Give My Poor Heart Ease: Mississippi Delta Bluesmen, Singing Fisherman of Ghana; women - Quilt’s in Women’s Lives, Cowgirls: Portraits of American Ranch Women, Grandma’s Bottle Village: The Art of Tressa Prisbrey; and so much more, like labor, folk arts, dance, and religion, to name a few. Folkstreams has something for everyone, and definitely films you never knew existed.
Films for Action, “a community-powered alternative news center and learning library for people who want to change the world,” has put together a Wall of Films, an expansive list of 400+ documentaries free to watch.
The wall includes popular social documentaries like Food, Inc., Michael Moore’s Sicko, and Supersize Me, but also creates space for lesser known docs, like Plastic Planet, The Times of Harvey Milk, and Controlling the Web.
Topics range from healthcare, human rights, urban renewal, politics in the U.S., religion, climate change, business and finance, the occupy movement, food production and access, the internet, and so much more. I am positive there is a documentary here that you will find useful for your students, peers, and your own personal benefit.
Cory Doctorow is co-founder of Boing Boing, a well-known blogger, and a science fiction writer. I found Cory’s work through his science fiction, particularly Little Brother, a novel about four savvy teenagers fighting Homeland Security in a post-terrorist attack San Francisco. I find Cory’s writing to be accessible and real-world relevant, the things I look for in science fiction. Which leads me to your free goodie: Eastern Standard Tribe, another of Cory’s novels which he provides a free download to on his website, craphound.com.
Each of Cory’s print books is simultaneously published on the internet with a Creative Commons license to “encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work” (Bio). Eastern Standard Tribe, originally published in 2004, is the only book he provides on his website, I’m sure if you dig around you can find links to more of Cory’s works.
If you’re anything like me, you aren’t often found without your Nook, or whichever e-reader you own. The problem is, books are typically around $10, which can add up, especially for a poor college student like me. But have no fear, WRAC is here to save you! Here are 400 FREE eBooks. Yes, 400, you read that right. Also included in this post are tutorials on how to load these eBooks onto your reading device.
Want to catch up on the classics that you read in high school? Here is Romeo and Juliet.
Feel like reading a poem? Emily Dickinson is here for that.
And who could forget the Bronte sisters? They’re here too.
This post on Open Culture has iPhone/iPad format, Kindle, Nook, and the option to read online. So what are you waiting for? Get reading… for FREE!
Do you have another great website for FREE eBooks? Let us know @msuwrac.