It’s a pleasure when artists give new treatments to their compositions, or a new setting reveals  surprising twist in a song. That’s the charm of following a band- admiring their writing as well as their performances. Besides concerts, that’s where ephemeral sessions come to play.

You’ve come here because you need to download the best music sessions from all your fave bands in the top studios. Whether you are addicted to the exclusive takes on Daytrotter or need alternatives to cure your itch for more great live-take versions, here are the best of sessions from bands around the world offered online…

La Blogothéque/Take Away Shows

The ultimate in captured moments has to be Blogotheque’s videos of great bands, in great spaces, doing great public performances. They may start out in a grand hallway of echoes and step out in the rain, then saunter through a marketplace. It’s all about the moment for France’s source for the best indie recordings around.

  • Format: video only
  • Quality: vibrant, intimate, and experiential
  • Variety: massive

Hand-pick: Arcade Fire (also check out Tallest Man on Earth)


Complete with session illustrations, a free iPhone app, and acts big and small. There are tons of sessions dating as far back as 2006. The recording quality is always high caliber, and they know what they are doing with analog equipment (like a Basement Tapes revival). A popular choice for such a not-so-popular stop in Rock Island, Illinois.

  • Format: mp3 download, free and for pay
  • Quality: well mixed and consistently good
  • Variety: extensive

Hand-pick: CoCoRosie


HearYa usually has folk or rock-tinged artists in their sessions roster- pretty much anyone that I could see touring with Wilco. They rival Daytrotter for unbelievable recording quality. Despite the startling plug for Beernuts, they are one of the only to offer both mp3s to download along with video of a song or two.

  • Format: mp3 download, supplemental videos
  • Quality: excellent mixing and good discourse
  • Variety: slowly growing

Hand-pick: The Low Anthem

Black Cab Sessions

A cool idea for busy musicians to travel in a taxi and play a live song in a close setting. I don’t think Edward Sharpe will be asked to squeeze in any time soon though. They have a website, but a bunch of the older performances don’t embed on their site properly due to a vimeo plus foul-up.

  • Format: streaming vids
  • Quality: a bit flat due to the cramped space, but clear
  • Variety: a good selection of bands

Hand-pick: Lykke Li who is great at the stripped down, random instrument, acoustic sessions.

NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Combining indie artists and old music veterans alike, NPR puts artists of all sizes in a corner to perform. During my viewing, there are only acoustic sets that are well mic’d. The site requires some digging to click through the archives.

  • Format: streaming vids
  • Quality: a bit flat due to the cramped space, but clear
  • Variety: a good selection of bands

Hand-pick: Fanfarlo

Laundro-matinee (MOKB)

My Old Kentucky Blog gives you a dose of videos and usually the mp3s from the session or from elsewhere. This blog has been a renowned resource and these sessions are only adding to their offerings.

  • Format: videos + mp3s
  • Quality: crisp
  • Variety: a decent sized catalog

Hand-pick: Bon Iver

They Shoot Music

They really do shoot music, don’t they? And it seems like they are growing quite a collection.

  • Format: videos
  • Quality: mild feedback, a tad quiet
  • Variety: plenty of shots of good bands

Hand-pick: Soko


Videography really completes these live sessions. Lots of calming stuff and a few louder acoustic stuff. Their first session was with The National.

  • Format: videos + mp4 downloads
  • Quality: pleasant
  • Variety: handful of indie groups

Hand-pick: Caitlin Rose

Sideshow Alley

Sideshow Alley is just that, a place where we are spectators on the sidewalk of a video-captured alleyway. The sideshows aren’t too big, but that doesn’t erase the power of the music.

  • Format: videos
  • Quality: alright
  • Variety: a small set

Hand-pick: Midlake

Aquarium Drunkard

The AD sessions aren’t an official installment.  Sometimes guests for the Sirius/XMU show have their songs showcased online for free. I linked to a custom Google search since that is the only way to browse them in one fell swoop. Nonetheless, the blog is a well-known resource for mp3s and news.

  • Format: mp3
  • Quality: nice
  • Variety: sparse

FRANCE INTER Black Session & White Session

France Inter, a public radio in French offers up some good takes of many indie artists. Black Sessions are done in front of an audience, and the White Sessions are done without them. France Inter unfortunately does not have an archived collection online. You can swipe some of these on torrents, mp3blogs, youtube, mediafire, and other sources. Chime in on the comments if you know a website that with a wider selection of Black Sessions.

  • Format: whatever you can find
  • Quality: superb
  • Variety: artists from a wide timeframe, but not easily  accessible

Morning Becomes Eclectic (KCRW)

Regular interviews and performances happen here. They have had a slew of acts perform and the sound is always reputable.

  • Format: video or audio stream only
  • Quality: great
  • Variety: mostly indie, eclectic, like the title suggests

Hand-pick: Warpaint


Seattle shows their true musical colors with the hefty list of musicians. There is plenty to handle here.

  • Format: wma and ra streams
  • Quality: good, with a slightly muffled range
  • Variety: everyone and their mother

Hand-pick: The Drums (never realized the croonability of the singer)

iTunes Sessions

Apple’s exclusive recordings can sometimes be named a Live Session or iTunes Session. Obviously, they are only available in the iTunes Store. Other stuff only available on iTunes is conveniently listed here. I would strongly recommend Beach House’s live sesh, particularly their unreleased song “White Moon.”

  • Format: paid m4a/mp3
  • Quality: sweet and tangy
  • Variety: from pop divas to the lesser known indie bands

Hand-pick: Beach House

Wild Honey Pie Buzzsession

Despite the Harry-Potterized logo, no songs were harmed by Harry. They’ve got some trending indie/pop artists as well as some unknowns. The page is super long, so it might hang your browser. Nice videos and soundcloud downloads for all songs.

  • Format: free mp3 + videos to watch
  • Quality: snazzy
  • Variety: nice number of artists to choose

Hand-pick: Freelance Whales

Peel Sessions

No session discussion is complete without John Peel’s work at BBC Radio 1. Over 30 years of recordings have been made with tons and tons of alternative or charting artists. The Peel Sessions aren’t readily available, so unless you resort to torrents or samples across the blogosphere, they aren’t always going to be there for you.

  • Format: audio of some sort?
  • Quality: excellent
  • Variety: intense, if you can find them all

That concludes the top 15 sources for the best music sessions. If you were keeping track, there are more than 15 here. I’ll add to the list as new filmers, studios, and recording engineers spring up and connect with some great bands.