If you thought that iTunes was the first legal online music store, you’re mistaken. that honour belongs to the Internet Underground Music Archive, which was set up in 1993, back when only geeks knew anything about the online world.
The founder was Jeff Paterson, a guy in a band called The Ugly Mugs who were based out of Santa Cruz, California. Someone he and his friend Rob Lord stumbled across a new compression algorithm called MP2 (yes, “2,” and not “3”) and decided to upload a bunch of Ugly Mugs material to an FTP server. When other local bands heard about this, they also asked if they could upload their stuff, too. No problem.
Anyone with an Internet connection could grab music from the site for free–but since this was mostly a place for unknown indie bands to willingly post and trade their material, no one in the mainstream music industry really cared. Yet all the material was fully licensed and legit.
IUMA managed to stay online until 2006 when a host of difficulties forced it offline, taking a ton of music down with it. However, there was a resurrection in 2012 and it’s now thriving.
So if you’re looking for some new and interesting tunes, do a little browsing here.