Years after Napster, music lovers find freebies on the web

Lyneka Little

Nine Inch Nails' latest album "The Slip" hit retail stores last week, but devoted fans have owned the tracks for months, and for free.

In May, the band released the album on its website with a note from lead singer Trent Reznor. "Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years -- this one's on me," wrote Reznor.

And he's not the first to give fans free tunes. Music veterans Radiohead and Prince are also music heavyweights redefining the pay model of music online.

Nine years after Napster shook up the music industry, artists are now determining how and when to monetize sales, and giving consumers an opportunity to glimpse musical jewels without a price tag. "We put the artists and the label in control," says Ali Partovi, CEO of Seattle based iLike.

As artists and fans continue to restructure the age-old business model of record labels, some major outlets are struggling to generate album sales. But many are capitalizing on marketing platforms and Web sites that allow artists to make music available on their own terms.

For music-heads, take a look at where you can discover music online before a financial transaction.