Even though streaming services are thriving, many of us still love having our favorite music offline in our own libraries as MP3 files. And building a substantial MP3 collection doesn’t require resorting to illegal P2P file-sharing networks – the internet is full of legal websites where you can download music for free. In the following, we will introduce you to the ten best sources for free music downloads on the web. You can also find the top 5 websites for free MP3 downloads in our video.
1. Download and Listen to Music for Free on last.fm
Last.fm is perhaps the largest music database worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of users log their music preferences through this social network and receive music recommendations, personalized radio stations, and song snippets to listen to. Many artists also make their music or individual songs available for complete download as MP3 files on last.fm. The provider lists all downloadable songs on a dedicated subpage. On the left side, you can narrow down the music genres, and registered users even receive download recommendations based on their music taste.
Jamendo.com is a platform for royalty-free music. Many artists feel underrepresented by the music industry and release their music for free use, distribution, and modification under Creative Commons licenses. This doesn’t mean that this music is of lower quality – it’s simply less known due to the lack of marketing power from the music industry. At jamendo, you can find a gigantic archive of free music that you can either listen to as a stream or through radio stations, or in most cases, download directly – a login is required for downloading. There is likely no music genre that isn’t covered by jamendo. Content creators can also license music on jamendo at an affordable price.
After the decline of MySpace, there was a long period of nothing (except for Facebook) – but now, alongside Bandcamp (see below), Soundcloud has emerged as one of the most important platforms for musicians. Anyone can upload tracks, embed them elsewhere, sell them, or offer them for free on Soundcloud. Although there isn’t a direct search for free songs, you can find hundreds of free downloads under the “free” tag. Look for the “Download” or “Free Download” buttons under each track – you’ll find offerings from Avicii, various remixes by big names, and a treasure trove of original material.
Similar to Soundcloud, there isn’t a true search for free tracks on Bandcamp – but there are loads of free tracks gathered under the keyword “Free download” (often set as “Name your Price,” where you can input 0). Bandcamp is a platform through which musicians can sell their music directly, without the need for record labels or distributors. Therefore, it mainly features indie and independent artists – but there is plenty to discover here as well.
Even the online shopping giant, Amazon, offers continuously changing free MP3s on its US site. However, you need an Amazon account to download the free MP3s. If you have one, it’s worth checking in regularly.
Similar to MySpace, ReverbNation aims to help upcoming bands gain more visibility. However, unlike the former, this platform is still successful and hosts numerous young bands offering their songs as free MP3 downloads to increase their exposure. It’s worth taking a look because ReverbNation offers something for every music taste, ranging from pop and indie to electronica and hip-hop.
The internet archive, which also stores old versions of the World Wide Web through the Wayback Machine, contains various music collections available under public domain or Creative Commons licenses. First, there is the Live Audio Archive, where you can find over 95,000 bootlegs, which are live recordings of well-known and less-known bands. Second, in the Netlabels section, there are over 20,000 tracks from Creative Commons artists that have been released on netlabels, covering a wide range of genres, from electronic to indie. It’s an excellent source for royalty-free music.
Many artists only offer their music on their own websites or scattered across the internet. The editorial team at Tonspion.de has been collecting these tracks for 10 years, providing tips on how to download the free songs, writing reviews, and engaging users. Every registered user can rate the songs, add comments, save favorite artists, and receive download recommendations based on their music taste. Thus, tonspion.de is the most well-known and largest destination in Germany for an editorially curated archive of free MP3 downloads.
Hypemachine is an aggregator of (mostly English-language) music blogs that write about new songs, showing which tracks are currently being discussed and trending. The search function allows you to access a variety of artists, but the navigation can sometimes be confusing – it’s not always clear when to stay on the Hypemachine site and when to go to the respective blog (click on the sentence at the end: “Posted xx minutes ago…”). But be careful, not all songs in this treasure trove can be downloaded; many are only available for listening – so you may have to dig a bit in this Hypemachine.
10. Free Music Archive
The Free Music Archive features thousands of tracks under Creative Commons licenses, encompassing a wide range of genres. You may not have heard of most of the artists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their music is of low quality. This archive is supported by several US radio stations that contribute the free content from their broadcasts. Don’t want to miss any news about tech, games, and pop culture? Want to stay up to date with the latest tests and guides? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.