Mention “free” and “music” in the same sentence, and some people still freak out. Everyone knows about the Napster Vs Metallica saga, but few are aware that free music – albeit in the form of creative commons – is making a huge comeback. Believe it or not, it’s ridiculously easy to find cheap and even free music all over the Internet legally.
More than that, sharing this kind of music with your friends – whether it is by email attachment, Bluetooth or via software like Vuze – is not only legal, this kind of sharing it is often encouraged by the artists who are vying to get their tunes to larger audiences.
This site has more than 350,000 audio files sitting in its database. Its advanced search narrows down what you’re looking for. There’s even a radio option where you can choose music to listen to in a radio-like format. If you create an account, you can also save your own personal favourites.
Freesound is a collaborative effort for Creative Commons Licensed sounds. The database is filled with sound effects like ambient noises, synthesized noises, and sounds produced by musical instruments. You can scour the site and download and share your favorite sounds. You can also upload your own audio clips to the site’s database. You have to register to do that though. But, it’s not too difficult – not any more difficult than signing up to any other site.
CcMixter is home to music clips that focus on instrumental samples used primarily by DJs. However, there’s a wide cariety of samples to choose from, and they can all be sorted by tags that describe what the audio clips are.
This is a great option if you’re a DJ, but it’s also a good place to look for clips if you’re an amateur mixer or you’re just fooling around with a home video.
This site is a large online community that prides itself on collaboration between artists from all around the globe. If you’re an artist, you can post your own music here, but you can also just browse the selection of instruments or creative mixes that have already been uploaded by others.
As more people collaborate on the original clip, and the clips after that, it eventually becomes a collaboration of multiple musicians. It’s a cool concept, and something to play around with if you enjoy mixing and collaboration as a hobby.
SoundCloud is a popular website where famous artists share their new tracks. It’s sort of a free peek into what’s to come. There’s a section under Creative Commons license that allows you to download other people’s tracks too – it’s all legal. You can even stream tracks right from the site. Here’s the cool part. You don’t have to register. You just click, and the MP3 file starts downloading.
BeatPick is a site that’s a little different from the rest. Here, you have a music player where you listen to any song on a list. Do download a song from the site, you have to register for an account. Most of the clips here will be instrumental and little or no vocals.
This site is mostly used by indie artists who want to have a platform to sell their music to the public. You can download some of the music here for free though. It’s a great way to discover new artists that won’t make it to mainstream – there are a lot of great voices that never get the airtime they deserve. Here’s where you’ll find them.
Jason Grover values creativity and intellectual property. He often blogs about copyright laws and inventive ways both creators and users can benefit one another within their legal rights and responsibilities.