1 January

Pick a Day

Music History Events: Free Music

March 6, 2016 Diplo and his electronic dancehall project Major Lazer land a historic Havana gig, becoming the first US musical act to perform in Cuba in the new era of diplomatic relations between the island and the US, precipitating a visit from President Obama later in the month.More

September 9, 2014 Who doesn't like a free gift? Apparently, about 500 million iTunes users who create an uproar when U2's latest album, Songs of Innocence, shows up sans charge and sans permission in their personal libraries.More

February 18, 2006 A week before Carnival, the Rolling Stones play a free concert to an estimated 1.5 million people at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.More

May 6, 2005 Audioslave becomes the first US rock act to perform a free outdoor concert in Cuba when the group performs at La Tribuna in Havana.

July 11, 2000 The free Back 2 Basics Tour, sponsored by Napster, kicks off with a show in Detroit. The tour runs for 24 dates and features Limp Bizkit, Cypress Hill, and Cold. The bands take some heat within the industry for working with Napster, a file sharing service that allows users to download songs for free.

June 21, 1967 Must be the Summer of Love: There's a free concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park celebrating the Summer Solstice. The Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service all perform.

January 14, 1967 Upwards of 25,000 people turn up at Golden Gate Park for "A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In" - a prelude to the Summer of Love.More

May 5, 2008 To thank fans for years of support, Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) posts the album The Slip for free on his website.

January 16, 2008 Radiohead is slated to perform a free gig at a small record store in London, but nearly 1,500 fans turn up, forcing the band to move the show to a nearby club.

March 6, 2006 Pearl Jam makes their new single "World Wide Suicide" available as a free download after the track is leaked.

November 1, 1999 With getting music over the internet still a novel concept and technical challenge, Third Eye Blind offer their single "Anything" exclusively online. It's free, but can only be played for three weeks.

November 11, 1997 Following in the footsteps of Garth Brooks, Metallica holds a free concert in Philadelphia to celebrate the release of their newest album, Re-Load.

October 12, 1997 With Backstreet Boys mania building worldwide, the group has to cancel a free, open-air concert at the Mostenses Plaza in Madrid when too many fans show up.

November 3, 1991 A crowd estimated at 300,000 turns out for a concert honoring promoter Bill Graham, a San Francisco legend who died a week earlier.More

August 15, 1991 Paul Simon gives a free concert in Central Park, much as he had in 1981 with partner Art Garfunkel. It airs live on HBO and eventually becomes the album Paul Simon's Concert In The Park.

June 3, 1990 The Big Day free festival takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, with Wet Wet Wet, Deacon Blue, Hothouse Flowers, Sheena Easton, Texas, Hue and Cry, John Martyn, Eddi Reader, The Average White Band and others. Channel 4 TV runs a six-hour live broadcast from the event.

July 15, 1989 200,000 people turn out for a free Pink Floyd concert in Venice, Italy.

June 21, 1982 The first "Fête de la Musique," a music festival also known as "World Music Day," is launched in Paris. Unlike corporate festivals, this one is about street music, and free to the public. The festival returns every June 21 and spreads throughout the world in various forms.

September 19, 1981 Simon & Garfunkel reunite for a free concert in New York's Central Park.

May 26, 1973 Carole King returns to her hometown of New York City to play a free concert in Central Park. The crowd, estimated at 70,000, includes Joni Mitchell, who sang on her Tapestry album. After enjoying the show, the crowd cleans up after themselves using garbage bags distributed by Parks Department.

July 5, 1969 The Rolling Stones put on a free concert in London's Hyde Park, which becomes a tribute to their founding member Brian Jones, who died two days earlier.

June 7, 1969 Blind Faith, a supergroup featuring Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton, play their first show: a free concert at Hyde Park in London.More

March 17, 2020 With St. Patrick's Day festivities shut down due to the coronavirus, Dropkick Murphys livestream a free concert from an empty venue in Boston. Over the next few weeks, many other artists follow suit, using livestreaming as a way to perform for fans during lockdown.More

February 14, 2014 With their music in legal limbo, De La Soul give away free downloads of their first six albums to anyone who signed up on their website. Their catalog isn't available digitally because of rights issues with the samples. "We're in the Library of Congress, but we're not on iTunes," group member Posdnuos says, referring to their debut album 3 Feet High And Rising.

June 27, 1996 Fugees headline the "Hoodshock" festival in Harlem, which the group organized as a free event to encourage voter registration. The Notorious B.I.G., Sean "Puffy" Combs and Wu-Tang Clan also perform, but the event makes headlines for a panic set off at the end of the festival when a man fires gunshots into the air. In the chaos, about 30 people are injured.

September 20, 1992 Pearl Jam play a free concert at Magnuson Park in Seattle where they register thousands of fans to vote in the upcoming election between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

November 8, 1987 Generating footage for their Rattle and Hum documentary, U2 play a free "Save the Yuppie" concert at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. An arrest warrant is issued for Bono after he spray paints "Rock n Roll Stops Traffic" on a fountain sculpture.

July 27, 1973 Thousands of people hit Watkins Glen, New York, for the "Summer Jam" one day before the music festival is scheduled to begin. The crowd is already so large and so raucous that The Band turn their sound-check into a mini-set. The Allman Brothers Band follows in similar character by rocking through "One Way Out" and "Ramblin' Man." The Grateful Dead come next with a two-set explosion. This impromptu jam tires them not at all, and the next day they still scramble psyches with two long sets.

August 16, 1969 The Beckenham Arts Lab holds the Free Festival in Beckenham, London. One one of the performers is David Bowie, who memorializes the concert in his song "Memory of a Free Festival." The festival is largely forgotten by history, probably because it happened at the same exact time as Woodstock in the United States.

June 29, 1969 The free-to-attend Harlem Cultural Festival kicks off in Mount Morris Park with headliners The 5th Dimension, who perform their #1 hit "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In." Five more shows take place over the summer, but footage doesn't appear until 2021, when it's documented in the movie Summer Of Soul.

Back to Categories

©2022 Songfacts®, LLC