Harvey Danger, a moderately successful band with one top 40 hit in 1997, has released their latest (2005) album as an unencumbered MP3 download with an essay explaining “why we’re releasing our latest album for free on the Internet,” covered by Cory Doctorow, Tim O’Reilly and many others.
Jamendo is my current favorite example of 2,500 reasons (albums) why this is not news, but there are thousands of others.
If you need an essay to go with your music, teleport back to 1998 or earlier (I recall reading a version of Ram Samudrala’s essay in 1995).
Update 20070227: The Harvey Danger album has been available for download since September 2005 (when Doctorow wrote about it in Boing Boing, link above). It shouldn’t have been newsworthy then either, but I’m a fool for not noticing that now it is old non-news. A commenter at Techdirt pointed this out.