Another connection for jam bands is www.etree.org, which points listeners toward recordings stored online and is equally fastidious about high fidelity. Meanwhile, concert recordings of all sorts, from vintage 1960's bootlegs to music only a few days old, have been traded at www.sharingthegroove.org, although the site is currently undergoing maintenance.
The Library of Congress
Through the years, tax dollars have supported researchers like Alan Lomax on excursions to collect music from every nook and cranny and tradition they could discover across the United States. The Library of Congress has made a considerable amount available free online. A place to start is the American Memory Collection (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/audio.html), with fiddle tunes, American Indian music, border music from the Rio Grande, Dust Bowl songs and more.
In 1987, the Smithsonian Institution bought the catalog of Folkways Records, which had set out to document every sound in the world and continues to support projects like a 20-disc collection of Indonesian music. Many of the Folkways recordings can be heard on the Web at http://www.folkways.si.edu, from "Classical Music of Iran" to "Creole Music of Suriname" to "Music of Indonesia Vol. 1: Songs Before Dawn."
The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org) has set out to preserve material that might otherwise disappear from the Internet, including Web pages, documents, books and video clips as well as audio, and it includes a Live Music Archive with more than 10,000 concerts via etree.org. Most are from jam bands, but there is plenty to choose from. (More than a million people have downloaded Grateful Dead music from the archive.) The archive also includes an assortment of other audio under All Collections, which has 131 songs from 78-r.p.m. discs, and more than 3,000 songs on what it calls netlabels, most of them releasing electronic music. Try the exotica-tinged selections from Monotonik.
The Internet Underground Music Archive (http://www.iuma.org) was a pioneer of free Internet music. It was founded in 1993 as a place for musicians to post their own music online, and it just keeps on expanding. Unfortunately, it is both overwhelming and overwhelmed; finding a good song requires extraordinary luck, and downloading it will take a while. Like the other send-it-yourself sites noted here, Iuma can make a user appreciate what record company scouts do.
Hopefuls face Darwinian competition at http://www.garageband.com, where musicians are encouraged to rate 30 songs before submitting one of their own (or pay a $19.99 fee instead) and other listeners are also assigned tracks to rate. The songs that rise to the top of the charts have a chance to be heard on Garageband's radio outlets or collected on its compilation albums. Garageband demands original songs, not cover versions, and its top-rated ones tend to sound more professional, if not always more distinctive, than those at other mass upload sites.