It was about a year ago that we launched the Free Friday series with the Austin Edition. We head back to Austin next week for the 25th Anniversary SXSW Music and Media Conference.

Founded in 1987, SXSW started as a regional event with 172 bands playing at 13 venues.  This year will see around 2,000 bands performing at 90 venues from March 16-20, and that’s just counting the official shows.

There is an overabundance of free music out there to help attendees sort through the coming avalanche, here’s a a slice of the embarrassment of riches:

NPR: the full-spectrum of their typically excellent coverage includes the “Austin 100 Mix,” a streaming sampler with many of the songs available for download.

iTunes: features an “official” SXSW Sampler with 21 free songs (for a limited time!).

SXSW Baby!: the unofficial weblog for SXSW has a ridiculous “Best of SXSW 2011” 80 song sampler available as a (287MB) Dropbox download.

photo: Ian Muir