Subscribing to a service like Spotify, Tidal or Apple Music means having unlimited access to millions of songs – in many ways, it’s like owning every song on Earth. But that illusion only lasts as long as you make monthly payments. If you terminate your subscription, you suddenly lose access to all that music.
For a more permanent solution, you can download tracks that are yours to keep forever. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get those songs, because there are websites that allow you to download music legally for free.
Here are the best free music download websites.
Free music archive
Founded by East Coast Radio Station WFMU in 2009, Free Music Archive is a hub for free original music uploaded by independent artists. It has a clean and simple interface that is easily browsable from a dozen genres and countless sub-genres. The site has its own player where you can create playlists, or you can download tracks and reuse them via a Creative Commons license.
SoundCloud is a music streaming and sharing platform that allows artists to connect with listeners and offer songs directly to fans. Although SoundCloud has paid subscription plans, you can listen to songs on the site for free with a basic account. Additionally, artists have the option to make their songs available for download for free, so you can download music in a variety of formats.
To download a track, hover over it in the player, then click the button Other with three points. If it’s downloadable, you’ll see a menu option Download file.
Bandcamp exists since 2008, serving as an online showcase for independent artists who can sell their music directly to fans. If you’re a music lover, Bandcamp is like a musical candy store with content in dozens of categories, from rock to reggae, plus kids’ music, and even audiobooks. Unfortunately, Bandcamp doesn’t have a way to search for free music posted in its navigation, but it’s still simple to do. To find free music on Bandcamp, search for “free downloads” and you can then browse songs that you can simply download for free or name your price (and you can nominate zero dollars).
The Internet Archive
Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that has a mission to curate and catalog millions of books, music, software, websites and more. For example, it runs the Wayback Machine, which you can use to see websites as they were at various times in the past. It also has a huge library of songs, concerts, audiobooks, podcasts, 78 rpm records, and more in the Audio Archive of the site, where you can browse based on countless filter criteria including musical genres. Not everything here is available for download, but when the music is downloadable, you have numerous file format options.
NoiseTrade is one of the unusual free music download sites you will come across. A subset of the Paste Magazine website, connects artists directly to fans allowing you to stream music and, in most cases, download songs for free. And you can’t choose individual tracks – if you want to download music, you get all the tracks in the collection from a given artist in one zip file. NoiseTrade features some mainstream artists across a wide range of genres and the only thing you need to do to download the tracks is to provide your email address so the artists can connect with you.
ReverbNation was launched in 2006 as a central hub for collaboration and communication between musicians, producers, clubs and other players in the music industry. It is also a place where music fans can discover and connect with news artists. To do this, you can browse and search for music, use the built-in player, and even download songs. To find the music that artists have designated as a free download, use the site’s search page and click the checkbox Free MP3s required on the left. All search results will contain tracks that you can download for free.
Last.fm was once a popular destination for streaming music for free in the early days of the internet, but the site discontinued its streaming services in 2014 and now serves primarily as a destination for giving music recommendations based on users’ listening habits. Even so, there is still a small catalog of free music here that you can legally download for free. Page Download free music on Last.fm has a simple, unsearchable list of 227 songs that you can play and download in MP3 format. There is no indication of style or genre, so using this library requires some exploration.