Music streaming services are not without their problems. The biggest turnoff being the lack of ownership; if you use Spotify, you don’t own any music—you’ve merely been granted a license to listen to it.But not to worry. If you’re wondering how to download music, look no further. There are still ways you can get hold of free music. They are entirely legal, and the music will be yours to keep forever. Here are the best MP3 download sites for free music.
The YouTube Audio Library is mainly aimed at people who need royalty-free production music to use in videos. However, anyone with a YouTube account can access the library via YouTube Studio and download as many songs as they wish.
According to the library’s terms and conditions, you can use the tracks in any content you create; it’s not just limited to videos. You can also use the songs in monetized videos on the YouTube platform.
Each song has a sample available, which you can listen to by hitting the small Play icon. If you like what you hear, click the adjacent Download button.
In addition to free music tracks, the YouTube Audio Library also includes sound effects. Again, they are free to use across your creative works.
The Free Music Archive has been around for many years, but it remains as popular as ever.
WUFM—an independent freeform radio station in New Jersey—curates the content. Most of the free song downloads are from lesser-known artists, but occasionally you will see a famous name pop up. Regardless, it is a great way to discover new music.
You don’t need to worry about legality, as all the tracks on the site are free for personal use. However, if you’re planning to use the songs in a commercial setting, you need to check the license associated with each individual recording
Jamendo is a platform that allows unsigned independent artists to easily distribute their music to their fans. It currently has more than 240,000 royalty-free tracks from 40,000 artists.
The music is built around “Communities”. Navigating to a particular community (for example, Rock) will introduce you to its leading tracks, albums, and artists. You can sort the music by all-time popularity, what’s trending, and latest releases.
If you want to test the waters before you commit to a download, you can tune in to one of the site’s themed radio stations.
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. And if you use NoiseTrade, that’s partly true.
The artists who have listed their music on this site want something in return for the free download, typically a postal address or an email address. The idea is for the bands to easily connect with people who like their music—perhaps to advertise an upcoming tour or highlight the launch of a new album.
The flip side is that you’re more likely to find artists you recognize. Sure, you’re not going to find The Killers’ latest release, but most of the bands are already signed to a record label and have albums available.
What if pop, rock, and the other mainstream genres aren’t your thing? Well, if you’re more into classical music, you’re in luck.
Musopen is another site to download free music online. It has recordings from some of the most famous classical musicians of all time. You’ll find everything from Bach and Beethoven to Tchaikovsky and Holst. You can search by composer, performer, instrument, period, and form to locate the content you want.
The site extends beyond music downloads. You’ll also find lots of free sheet music and even some educational resources.
Many people don’t realize that Amazon has a vast repository of free music downloads. At the time of writing, more than 6,000 songs are available for download.
Unlike some other free music download sites, you can frequently find famous bands. Right now, you can find music from the Foo Fighters, Ashaneen, Tony Elman, Carole King, and many more. The artists do change occasionally, so if you find any music you like, grab it while you can.
Away from famous names, the collection also does a surprisingly good job of covering niche genres. Sadly, Amazon has removed the feature that allowed you to filter the free music by genre (though it’s still there for paid music). As such, you’ll need to do the digging yourself.
Did you know that the Internet Archive is useful for a lot more than only laughing at how bad the web looked in 1999? It’s also a fantastic free music website.
For a music lover, the best part of the site is the Live Music Archive. It was built in partnership with etree.org and features shows and concerts from a range of leading artists. All the bands in the collection are “trade-friendly”, meaning they’ve granted fans the right to freely trade some of their music for non-commercial means.
The library doesn’t just cover music; you’ll also find old news and public affairs talks, radio shows, audiobooks, and poetry readings.
ReverbNation is a great site if you’re an up-and-coming band that wants to sell music online.
However, it doubles as a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to download free music. The site is primarily aimed at new bands; you’re not going to find tracks from the current chart-toppers.
Don’t let that put you off, though. ReverbNation has launched the careers of many top bands, including the Alabama Shakes and Imagine Dragons. That means you can be the coolest kid at school by downloading music from tomorrow’s hippest artists before they become famous.
Like so many of the sites on this list, SoundClick mainly features new artists who have not yet made a name for themselves in the music industry.
Not all the songs on the site are available to download for free; the artist has to make each track available on a case-by-case basis and some require a small payment. Where downloads are available, you often have a choice of quality. The choices are normally a 320 kbps MP3, a 160 kbps MP3, and a lossless WAV file.
CCTrax offers free music downloads that are covered by a Creative Commons license. It has a special focus on electronica, dub, techno, and ambient tunes.
Every song on the site can be downloaded and no payments are involved anywhere. Be alert to the songs with the special “BY License” though, they are the only ones that you can embed on other sites.
What Happened to FreeAllMusic?
Almost all of these sites specialize in helping you download music from unknown and upcoming artists rather than current stars. It’s largely inevitable, as bands who have already made it big have no need to give their music away for free.
As a rule, if you see a site offering you a free copy of the latest album by Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, it’ll probably be illegal to download it. In which case you should proceed with extreme caution.
One such illegal example is FreeAllMusic. Like The Pirate Bay, it has been taken offline many times, only to rear its head at a new domain. A rebooted version persists to this day. Our advice is to steer clear.
Learn More About Downloading Music
Although it’s nice to be able to grab free music downloads legally, there are plenty of ways to pay for the biggest and newest releases.
Before you get your wallet out, however, it makes sense to check whether you like the music first.
See you soon!