The Internet Archive has set up a free music archive where you can download free music ’till the cows come home at a cool 150k/sec.
Click the “Live Music Archive” for some real treats. People taping music at concerts has come a long way!
For example, Bela Fleck did a concert at Purdue in December, and you can download the whole thing at a quality that would rival any live commercial recording. It’s incredible how good today’s digital recorders sound. Seriously.
Most of the files in the archive are distributed as .SHN files. SHN files are essentially compressed wave files, but SHN is not a lossy format, so you won’t see any loss in quality. Of course that means the files you download are huge (820MB for the Flecktones double-CD above,) but if you’ve got a broadband connection that shouldn’t matter too much.
Incidentally, Comfort Stand Records uses the Internet Archive as their primary means of distributing the albums in their ever-growing catalog.