The record companies can fuss all they want about the Internet hurting their business, but here's a good reason why free -- and I mean free and legal -- music is a good thing (and might earn them money in the long run). I just listened to a truly rockin' concert by a couple of guys from Akron, Ohio -- the Black Keys. Oh. My. Goodness. Just a guy on a guitar and a guy on the drums and they are awesome -- good and loud blues rock. (From what I'm hearing even as I write this, the Black Angels are pretty awesome, too. They're a Texas band -- kind of psychedelic.)
And how did I acquire this cool free music and discover a new group to enjoy? From good old NPR. I found the NPR Live Concert Series and downloaded the recording of a concert by The Black Keys and the Black Angels at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. You can find it here. I'm not sure if they always make free downloads available, but other sessions of the concert series are available to listen to via streaming audio (you can choose your player -- RealPlayer or WindowsMedia).
So I've already found the Black Keys on iTunes and I will probably buy some of their albums some time in the future. Which means that this free concert has earned the group a new fan who will spend some of her limited music budget on their music.