If you’re a music lover (and c’mon, who isn’t?) I’m sure you’ve tried searching for websites that offer free music downloads. Here, I give you the top ten sites to get free music downloads, many of which you can add to your mp3 player or burn to a CD. Enjoy!
Number Ten: Pure Volume. Pure Volume is a site which allows free downloads and streams. The main screen shows featured bands, as well as what users from the site are listening to. While not all songs are free, the songs that are have a “Free .MP3” tab next to it. You can click on the band’s album cover to get specific info on the band, as well as play, purchase, embed or add songs to a playlist. You can search for specific artists, or simply click the “Top Songs” or “Top Downloads” tab on the main page. The site also features a “News” tab (in the top, black section next to “Music,”) which features up-and-coming news about both mainstream and independent artists.
Number Nine: SoundClick. SoundClick is a site which serves as a platform to guide you to the websites of both professional and unsigned musicians who are offering music for free on their personal sites. Under the “Music” tab, you can click on “SoundClick Music Genres List,” which will take you to a list of genres to choose from. You can also click the “Home” tab, which will show you featured bands/artists and member profiles. The only downside to this site is that not all music is available for download. The ones that are will have an MP3 link. The site says to do the following if you want to download a song that doesn’t have the link: 1) “Make sure you’re logged in as a registered member.” 2) “Go to a band’s music page.” 3) “Right-click the MP3 link.” 4) “Select ‘save target as’.”
Number Eight: MadeLoud. MadeLoud is a site which offers free music downloads from underground bands and solo artists. On the main page, you are offered several genres to choose from, while by clicking on the red “Artists” tab, you can search for a specific artist/band. In order to download free music from the site, you must sign up for the site first. However, once you do, downloading the music is pretty easy: Simply click on the gray, down-facing arrow on the right.
Number Seven: iTunes. iTunes is infamous for being a site where you go to buy music. However, they also offer free music downloads (as well as free podcasts, apps, books, movies and TV shows.) The only catch is, you have to have iTunes. However, if you do have it already, getting free music is pretty simple. First, you open the program and click on “iTunes store” (which is on the left-hand side.) On the right side of the store, you should see a link that says “Quick Links.” Then, under this link, look for the link which says “Free on ITunes.” That’s pretty much it (I recommend checking back often as new, free downloads appear on the site weekly.)
Number Six: Internet Archive’s Audio and MP3 Library. Internet Archive’s Audio and MP3 Library is a site which “contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users.” In essence, this site is a non-profit, online library, which allows artists to upload their music, as well as music-lovers to download anything from new music to poetry readings. The most popular feature, as mentioned previously, is the site’s large archive of live music material. If you click the tab titled “Collection,” you can find some of the most popular live music collections (in particular, jam bands, including Grateful Dead, Disco Biscuits and String Cheese Incident, are prevalent here.) You can also search for a band/artist collection in the white box on the right-hand side.
Although some music is only available to stream, there is music available for free downloads, in flac and mp3 formats. If you want to download a concert, all you have to do is click on the artist, then click on the concert date, then pick from the download options on the right-hand side below the set-list. The site also allows users to comment on the live recordings.
Number Five: Amazon. Although Amazon is now a household name, and you probably recognize it as a site that forces you to purchase music, it also offers tons of free music downloads. Although using Amazon Prime gives you access to unlimited songs and playlists, you don’t have to have Prime to download music. However, you do have to have an Amazon account to sign in and be able to download free music. If you click the link provided above, you’ll notice all the different genres you can choose from which provide free music. Under the “Free” tab at the top of the site, you can also search for free downloads from specific artists or bands. You can download the songs to your computer or use the Amazon Cloud Player to play the track.
Number Four: Jamendo. Jamendo is a site that is “the platform for independent music.” When you go to the main page, there are three main tabs. The “music for commercial use” tab you probably want to avoid, as it costs money to download tracks for commercial use. The “upload” tab is for artists looking to “get (their) music heard and make money.” However, the “listen” tab is for those looking to discover and download free music. You can discover new music by searching for a specific artist, looking up the most downloaded or most popular music, or by listening to one of the radio channels (I’m not going to explain how to do any of the above, as the site is pretty self-explanatory.)
To add tracks to your “favorites,” create a playlist or share on social media tracks, you must be signed up to the site. Many independent artists luckily are willing to give their music away free to the masses; to download a song, simply click on the track or artist name, and click the purple “Download” button. If you’re on a page with a list of different tracks, you can download a specific track by moving your mouse to the left of the album cover and clicking the purple arrow.
Number Three: NoiseTrade. NoiseTrade is a site where you can check out tons of music albums from mostly independent artists; if you like what you hear, you can tip the artist or help promote their music to outside sources. To discover new music, the homepage has a “Music” tab right next to the NoiseTrade logo, which allows you to search for music by genre. If you scroll down the homepage, you can also discover artists through the “New & Notable” section, as well as the “Top Downloads” section.
By clicking on an artist/album, you are brought to a page where you can hear a sample of the song, share the song on social media, find the artist’s official website or contact information, read a bio of the artist, and download the music album for free. The best part about this site is you don’t have to sign up for the site to download music for free; you simply have to enter your email and zip code, and the music will be sent in a zip folder. This site is unique in that it specializes in allowing music-lovers to download entire albums.
Number Two: SoundCloud. SoundCloud is a website that allows you to download music for free from both professional and independent musicians (it also features streaming.) Not all music can be downloaded on SoundCloud for free; some ask you to “like” the song through Facebook in order to get the download. However, the songs that can be downloaded for free have a “Download” button below the specified track (if you have trouble downloading, it probably is because the site is working out some of the kinks; I recommend adding the track to your collection or playlist, then going back later to try and download it.) This is probably the most interactive site on this list.
You don’t have to sign up for the site to listen to music. If you click here, you can search for a specific song or artist (click the “Everything” tab on the left-hand side to get broader search results.) However, by signing up you get more benefits (it’s fairly simple to sign up; you can sign in through Google, Facebook or simply by entering your email and creating a password.) You can choose to “like” a track, which will add it to your “Collection” (the “Collection” tab is located on the top left of the screen next to the “Home” tab.) You can choose to “Repost” a track, which will add the track to your profile as well as your followers’ streams. You can add the track to a playlist, which you can either make public or private (to do this, all that is required is creating a playlist title.)
You can also share the track on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and email, as well as follow the bands you love to get updates on their latest, posted music. Besides following bands, you can also follow users as well. My favorite aspect of this site is being able to leave comments on specific tracks; to do this, you simply type in the comment box below the track at the point in the song where you want to leave the comment (you can also comment on other user’s comments by clicking the avatar shown below the track.) SoundCloud also has a feature which allows you to use the site on your iPhone, iPad or Android; also it is a great place for up-and-coming artists to upload their music and gain more exposure and a bigger fanbase.
Number One: Last.fm. Last.fm is a site where you can download free music, stream songs and get recommendations for band’s you might love. You can discover artists by searching for a specific artist (in the black box next to the website logo) or by choosing a genre (which is listed on the left-hand side.) You don’t even have to sign up on the site to download a song; simply search for the band/artist and click the blue button to the right of the song that says “Free Mp3.” The site seems to offer free downloads from both mainstream and original bands, while also offering an “Events” tab which displays the date and location of live shows and festivals. I put this site as number one, as it is by far the easiest site to use (from my experience.)