Launched in late 2006, Wolfgang’s Concert Vault contains recordings from the archives of Bill Graham Presents as well as live streams from the King Biscuit Flower Hour, the Silver Eagle Cross Country archive, Daytrotter, Noise Pop and Newport Folk collections plus much more. While at first the Concert Vault focused on classic rock performances, the addition of Daytrotter and other collections have made for a much more diversified list of artists to choose from. All streams are available for free and you can download some of the shows for a reasonable fee.
Unlike the other options on this list, which generally offer a list of artists along with what shows are available at those sites, finding live tracks on Grooveshark isn’t exactly easy. Yet, with a massive library of tracks, if you know what song and artist you’d like to hear, Grooveshark may be your best bet. For instance, let’s say you want to hear a live version of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Rosalita. Simply search for “springsteen” and “rosalita” and you’ll have your choice of a dozen or so takes on the tune.
Tauthal.com offers an archive with over 100 live shows for downloading and streaming that aren’t readily available elsewhere. The site focuses on Phish but has plenty of other artists to choose from from the classic rock, jam and indie worlds.
With only 29 artists to choose from, JamRadio.org’s concert archives isn’t extensive but there are plenty of good shows available to stream at this newcomer. The site is currently in “beta” and it appears as if downloads will be available at some point in the future.
The print version of Paste Magazine may be dead, but the website lives on. Over the last few years, a number of indie bands stopped by Paste’s offices to record a live session and in some cases Paste took their “studio” on the road to record live sets at festivals like SXSW. Hopefully the website stays up for a long time to come as the Live at Paste archives contains many must-see performances.
Nugs.net started off in the ’90s as a portal to download and stream music from jambands such as the Grateful Dead and Phish for free. In the early ’00s, Nugs went into the paid arena with the launch of programs like LiveDownloads.com, LivePhish.com and LiveWidespreadPanic.com, but has still maintained a “Free Stash” where users can download or stream a number of jam-related performances for free.
NPR Music’s Concert page compiles links to streams of performances from a variety of NPR properties including Tiny Desk Concerts, XPN Live Fridays and Live in Concert From All Songs Considered as well as the network’s past webcasting efforts from Bonnaroo, the Newport Jazz Festival and many others. All in all, you can stream hundreds of sets from an eclectic mix of artists for free.
Recommended Gems: Los Lobos – Tiny Desk Concerts, Mumford and Sons – Live From Bonnaroo 2010, Robert Plant and Band of Joy – Live at the Bowery Ballroom and The Felice Brothers – Live at Newport Folk Festival 2010
2. Sugar Megs
SugarMegs.org was one of the first sites on the internet to offer streams of live shows – it was started in 1996 – and continues to add hundreds of shows to their massive collection of over 34,000 shows each month. The portal’s database page offers a powerful search engine as well as a way to browse the collection by artist. While SugarMegs originally focused on jambands, there’s plenty of sets from nearly any rock, jazz, bluegrass and folk band you can think of.
With 84, 914 “items” from 4,403 bands (as of 1:11PM on 11/11/10), the Live Music Archive hosts the largest collection of live shows on the internet by a wide margin. You can stream and/or download sets from acts as big as the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson all the way down to your local, neighborhood band all for free. As with many of the sites on our list, there is a focus on jambands, but there’s also plenty of acts on the archive who aren’t associated with the scene including Death Cab For Cutie, fIREHOSE, the Cowboy Junkies, Low and the Smashing Pumpkins.