Cllct (http://www.cllct.com) is a website where artists distribute their music at no cost to themselves or their listeners.
It has an eclectic cast of characters and a friendly community of creative folk. It's not about making money or getting in to the industry and sharing your latest album on the site won't make you famous: the site's Alexa traffic global rank (as of October 2012) is 280,353. (For comparison Everything2 is ranked 57,884, MySpace is ranked 189 and Google is number 1.) It's still fairly buggy and slow despite having launched 4 years ago (on April 27 2008) and its halcyon days have long since been and gone. The servers are down every now and then and you still can't download full albums as zips. Uploads have to be mp3s and the comments were recently flooded with a wave of spam.
But it's damn good fun.
All albums are released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) License unless artists specify otherwise. And nobody ever specifies otherwise. All the tracks are free to stream and download too. If you've got an account you can "Vote" for a release but that doesn't really do much beyond increasing its number of votes by one. It's also possible to favourite albums and add other users as Friends. Really, none of this does very much but all this sort of behaviour is aggregated into a number of Points on every user's page. I have 224 points and Tiny Folk (a CLLCT celebrity) has 71,333. Additionally there's a sort of Twitter like status based micro-blog thing that nobody uses. The only other notable feature is a nifty little "CLLCT Radio" that lets you stream a randomly generated assortment of songs from the repository using Flash. It's a fun way to find new songs.
People collaborate the whole time and create some interesting splits and compilations. An example would be the various musical anthologies (sometimes with a theme, sometimes without) by the site's prominent artists that are organized and produced for the community's enjoyment. APOLF (A pile of lo-fi) #13 was released this year (2012) and features songs on the topic of love by no less than 14 different independent artists. As a testament to the variety of genres and styles to be found on the site the album opens with a whiney reverb-filled lo-fi acoustic rock song and travels through poorly sung shoe-gaze, clipping-ambience backed poetry, verging-on-noise garage, very lo-fi homemade psych, self-deprecating acoustic punk and quite a lot more; a fair bit of it unclassifiable.
If that sounds absurd and sloppy to you, that's because it is! Most releases take a charming home-made DIY type approach and nobody worries to much about mixing/mastering. Half the album covers are scrawled in MSPaint or taken with 1MP phone cameras out on walks. Nobody is being that serious but that doesn't mean their producing garbage. The focus, I suppose, is more on concepts and ideas than their execution.
Unlike in the music business you won't find many talented haircuts or winning smiles on CLLCT but you will find innovation and passion. You won't find million dollar contracts or international tours but you will find people making music for music's sake. You're more likely to find a mental disorder than the x-factor and you definitely won't be getting sued for all you're worth for sharing a track with your friends. But you might just find your new favourite band, your new favourite song or your new favourite website.
I know I did.