It appears that, as of now, you can stream an entire album over on LastFM for free. Although not every single artist is represented, nor is every single album released by every single artist, there is an eye-popping number of artists available.
So, I want you to hear Regard the End from the Willard Grant Conspiracy, I can point you there.
If I come across Toad the Wet Sprocket's Welcome Home Live CD, I can point you right to a page.
If I want to point to Blackout from the Dropkick Murphys and say it's the best album the band ever put out, I can point to the page and give you the opportunity to listen.
Naturally, LastFM wants you to buy what you hear and like, so they're hoping the bid to offer "instant listening" will pay off, and maybe encourage more artists to sign on to the scheme.
Don't forget, though: If you're looking for free and legal MP3 downloads, LastFM has a free music download page.
Also, The Live Music Archive offers plenty of live tracks from more than 2,600 bands. What's nice is that the archive recently added the ability to livestream the concerts so you can decide whether you want to download before you actually do so, taking some of the guesswork out of the process.
I can't help but feel that LastFM's move is a step in the right direction (just like I thought that Netflix's "view on demand" is a step in the right direction). While I did some searches and was disappointed that there were some bands that didn't have full streaming yet, I do realize that it's just a start. Here's hoping that the service grows exponentially.