These days, most people are streaming music from services like Spotify, but it's not a perfect solution. While you get access to millions of songs for a reasonable monthly cost, you don't actually own any of that music. If a service changes or shuts down, you might lose access to everything in your library.
The alternative is buying your music digitally on Apple's Music app, Amazon, iTunes, or other digital storefront. But that can get expensive.
For the best of both worlds, these websites allow you to download music for free—and they're completely legal. Here are the websites you can visit to get free music.
Founded in 2008, Bandcamp(Opens in a new window) allows artists to upload their music to the site and set the price for digital music, physical albums, and merchandise. Artists can add music to their Bandcamp profiles for online listening, and tracks or albums can be purchased for digital download. The website supports multiple formats, including MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis, as well as lossless FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and AIFF files.
If you're looking for free downloads, search for tags like Free(Opens in a new window) and Free Download(Opens in a new window). On the mobile app (for iOS(Opens in a new window) and Android(Opens in a new window)), you'll have to dig deeper; go to Search, choose a genre, then select "add custom genre" to search for tags.
If you find something you want, the artist allows you to pay what you want. Without a minimum price in place, you can "buy" the song for $0 and download it to your computer. However, you may be required to share your email with the artist or asked to pay a little more to add music to your Bandcamp collection, if such a thing matters to you.
Specializing in hip-hop and rap music since 2005, Datpiff(Opens in a new window) allows users to download and stream free mixtapes that are uploaded by emerging and well-known artists, including Drake, Future, Lil Wayne, Meek Mills, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa, and more.
Free Music Archive
Created by several community radio stations, the Free Music Archive(Opens in a new window) strives to provide free music that can be downloaded and used in other creative works under Creative Commons licenses. Users can find new music by searching through curated collections, specific genres, and trending music. Find a song and listen to it online or download it as an MP3 file.
FMA is under new ownership, so the service is in something of a transitional period right now. The website remains up and usable, but it's been labeled as "static." According to the Free Music Archive Twitter account(Opens in a new window), the service is being overhauled to improve on the free product and offer premium content for subscribers.
The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive's Audio Archive(Opens in a new window) offers free access to music recordings, audiobooks, podcasts, and radio programs. You can search through the archive's Live Music Archive(Opens in a new window) to find live performances and the LibriVox Free Audiobook Collection(Opens in a new window) for public domain audiobooks.
Not all recordings are available for download, but the ones that are can be downloaded as several different file formats, including MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and more.
Jamendo has a unique setup that splits the service between two divisions: Jamendo Music, for personal use, and Jamendo Licensing, for licensing available music. The company allows artists to upload songs to Jamendo Music so users can listen to them for free and discover what they like. Artists can also make money by making their music available for licensing deals with Jamendo Licensing.
If you're interested in free downloads for personal use, Jamendo Music(Opens in a new window) (on the web, iOS(Opens in a new window), or Android(Opens in a new window)) allows you to save any song on the service as an MP3 file on your computer or mobile device. All you need is an account to download songs, albums, and playlists directly to your computer. There are even built-in radio stations, and songs can be downloaded as they play.
These days, Last.fm(Opens in a new window) mainly focuses on recommending music to its users and doesn't actually house its own music. If you play a track on the site, you will find that it plays YouTube videos instead. If you click on the download button on a song, it will send you to Amazon, iTunes, or another destination that sells the track.
However, there is still a way to find free songs for download on the Last.fm website. Embedded in the site's footer is the link Free Music Downloads(Opens in a new window). This will take you to a page with a full list of all tracks that can be downloaded for free. No sign-in or subscription necessary, and you can't actually filter the results, but it's worth a look.
Musopen is a non-profit effort to make music available to people free of copyright restrictions. That means it mainly focuses on offerings in the public domain, including classical music; search by composer, time period, and more.
To download anything, you will need to create an account with Musopen. Free users are limited to only five downloads a day and standard audio quality. By subscribing to the service(Opens in a new window), you get unlimited downloads, HD audio quality, and access to an HD radio feature.
Geared towards the indie music scene, ReverbNation(Opens in a new window) allows local artists to upload their music for fans to discover. Music can be found from the website's Discover tab, the community-driven Crowd Picks tab, genre-based playlists, or from ReverbNation channels embedded in the website's music player.
Artists have the option of adding music for sale, online listening only, or direct download. If you're looking for free music tracks, you can download songs directly from the music player. Find a track in the music player and click the + sign next to a song you want to download. If it's been made available, you can click the Download button for the MP3 file.
You can also download music directly from the artist page by clicking the download button next to the track you want. Some artists may ask for your email address as a trade for the free music.
SoundCloud(Opens in a new window) is the premier place on the internet for amateur artists to upload their music and get discovered. The platform mostly focuses on on-site streaming, but SoundCloud does give artists the option to make certain tracks available as free downloads. These files can be downloaded in AAC, AIFF, ALAC, AMR, FLAC, MP2, MP3, WAV, and WMA formats.
In order to download a track, you must first be signed in with a SoundCloud account. Find a song you want to download and click the More options button. If the track is available for download, you can click Download file to save the song to your computer. The mobile app (for iOS and Android) does not support downloads, though SoundCloud Go/Go+ subscribers(Opens in a new window) can save tracks for offline listening.
If you don't want to mess with any of the other options, turn to YouTube instead. Many songs and music videos have been uploaded to the site, so it's a goldmine for free content. If you can find the right tool to create an MP3 or MP4 file, you can have all the free music you want. Just know that it's not exactly legal to convert and download copyrighted content.
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