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The advent of music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music has lessened the impact of music piracy. Illegal downloading has plagued the music industry since the turn of the millennium, but for the sake of a few dollars a month, the risks are now too high for most people.

However, music streaming services are not without their problems. For a lot of people, the biggest turnoff is the lack of ownership. If you use Spotify, you don’t own any music The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Read More – you’ve merely been granted a license to listen to it.

But not to worry. If you’re the type of person who loves tending to a vast music collection on your PC or mobile device, there are still ways you can get free music. They are entirely legal, and the music will be yours to keep forever.

Here are seven websites to get you started.

1. BeSonic

This website may look a bit dated, but don’t let that put you off. BeSonic is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to give their own music collection a boost.

The music is divided into five broad genres: “Rock and Alternative,” “Pop and Electro,” “Hip-Hop, Soul, and Urban,” “Jazz and Blues,” and “Mixed Up.” Each of the five genres is sub-divided into several sub-categories.

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To help you find something to which you’ll enjoying listening 5 Ways to Discover New Music Without Being Overwhelmed 5 Ways to Discover New Music Without Being Overwhelmed How do you discover new music? These five easy tools will help you find new songs and fresh albums without feeling overwhelmed. Read More , the site maintains weekly genre-specific charts for a song’s global popularity. You’ll also find sections devoted to new tracks and new artists.

2. Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive has been around for many years, but it remains as popular as ever. The site focuses on hi-fidelity tracks 10 Common Audio Formats Compared: Which One Should You Use? 10 Common Audio Formats Compared: Which One Should You Use? We may all be familiar with MP3, what about AAC, FLAC, OGG, or WMA? Why do so many standards exist? Which ones should you care about and which ones can you ignore? Read More .

WUFM – an independent freeform radio station in New York – curates the content. Most of the available songs are from lesser-known artists, but occasionally you will see a famous name pop up.

You don’t need to worry about legality, as all of the tracks on the site are free for personal use. However, if you’re planning to use the songs in a commercial setting, you need to check the license associated with each individual recording.

3. Jamendo

Jamendo has a similar premise to the SoundCloud of five years ago: letting unsigned independent artists 5 Independent Netlabels Where You Can Download Free Music Albums 5 Independent Netlabels Where You Can Download Free Music Albums Netlabels are online record labels that distribute music primarily in digital audio formats, such as MP3, Ogg Forbis, or WAV. Typically, netlabels offer a great share of their releases for free, often under a Creative... Read More easily distribute their music to their fans. It currently has more than 400,000 tracks from 40,000 artists.

The music is built around “Communities.” Navigating to a particular community (for example, #Rock) will introduce you to its leading tracks, albums, and artists. You can sort the music by all-time popularity, what’s trending, and latest releases.

If you want to test the waters before you commit to a download, you can tune into one of the site’s themed radio stations.

4. NoiseTrade

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. At least, not if you use NoiseTrade.

The artists who have listed their music on this site want something in return for the free download, typically a postal address or an email address. The idea is for the bands to easily connect with people who like their music – perhaps to advertise an upcoming tour or highlight the launch of a new album.

The flipside is that you’re more likely to find artists you recognize. Sure, you’re not going to find The Killers’ latest release, but most of the bands are already signed to a record label and have albums available.

5. Musopen

What if pop, rock, and the other mainstream genres aren’t your thing? Well, if you’re more into classical music, you’re in luck.

Musopen has recordings from some of the most famous classical musicians of all time. You’ll find everything from Bach and Beethoven to Tchaikovsky and Holst. You can search by composer, performer, instrument, period, and form to locate the content you want.

The site extends beyond music downloads. You’ll also find lots of free sheet music Top 7 Sites to Find and Print Free Sheet Music Top 7 Sites to Find and Print Free Sheet Music Have you been searching for free printable sheet music? Here are seven awesome resources to give you a helping hand. Read More and even some educational resources.

6. Amazon

Amazon is comfortably the most recognizable name on this list. At the time of writing, it offers more than 50,000 songs for free. The project is an offshoot of Amazon Music Unlimited Amazon Launches Music Unlimited as a Spotify Killer Amazon Launches Music Unlimited as a Spotify Killer After months of speculation, Amazon has launched its own ad-free, on-demand music streaming service. So, what's the deal with Amazon Music Unlimited? Read More .

To see what’s available, go to the Amazon website and navigate to Departments > Movies, Music and Games > Digital Music > Deals > Free. You can filter the results by genre in the column on the left-hand side of the screen. The most popular genre is “International,” but, with a little digging, you can find everything from Blues to Broadway.

Unlike some of the other sites I’ve covered, you can frequently find famous bands. JJ Grey and Mofro, Foo Fighters, and Blondie all have tracks available for download.

7. The internet Archive

Did you know the internet Archive is useful for a lot more than only laughing at how bad the web looked in 1999? It’s also a fantastic free audio library.

For a music lover, the best part of the site is the Live Music Archive. It was built in partnership with etree.org (the leading lossless digital audio distributor on the web) and features shows and concerts from a range of leading artists. On the first page of the results alone, you will find music from The Grateful Dead, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The Cheese String Incident.

The library doesn’t just cover music; you’ll also find old news and public affairs talks, radio shows, audiobooks, and poetry readings.

What Sites Can You Add to This List?

Almost these sites specialize in helping you download music from unknown and upcoming artists rather than current stars. It’s largely inevitable, bands who have already made it have no need to give their music away for free.

As a rule, if you see a site offering you a free copy of the latest album by Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, it’ll probably be illegal. In which case you should proceed with extreme caution.

From which websites do you legally source free music? Which websites have I overlooked? Which website on this list is your favorite?

Feel free to leave your tips, suggestions, and recommendations in the comments below.

Image Credit: Kidsada Manchinda via Shutterstock.com

Originally written by Tim Watson on April 19,2009

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  1. Peter Bash
    February 15, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Why not just use Youtube and use a 'Youtube to Mp3 converter' such as Media Human (which is completely free to use) or similar. Just about everything audio is on Youtube these days....

  2. Keith
    February 7, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Bandcamp.com. Some free music, a lot of name your own price, as well as standard pricing, but almost everything is free to stream as much as you want (full songs, not just 30-sec previews). There are some amazing artists as well as some big names.

  3. Jenny
    March 18, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    I DON'T CARE

  4. Telechargement music
    October 29, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Here is also a link for free French music.

    The rest of the website is legal but not free.

    http://www.starzik.com/telechargement-musique/themes/Gratuit-157.html?directSearch=true

  5. Moncherion
    October 28, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I love music, thank you for you sharing!

  6. Get Free Music
    September 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Good find but the only problem with original free music is that its from unsigned artists.... and most of the time there is a reason why they dont have record contracts.

  7. TopList
    August 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    I believe http://www.TopList.fm is one of them.

    Free Download Music Site – TopList.fm Free Music Downloads and Listen to Free Online Music Mp3 Streaming

  8. Harry
    July 15, 2009 at 6:48 am

    iZaRia.us

    New, but still awesome. Got millions of tracks all available for free through copyright-compliant API providers. It just brings together music from a load of different sites...surprised nobody's thought of it before...

  9. Tabiji
    July 14, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Tonspion, Epitonic and Better Propaganda are my favorites for legal downloads. music.download.com was good but it's gone now.

    Stumble Audio is good for listening. Alternative Tentacles, Southern Records and other record labels offer downloads. RCRD LBL, HELLTHY Entertainment, and Muzie are good, too.

  10. Chris
    July 14, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    definitely have a look at grooveshark.com - you can find pretty much any song you are looking for and can make a playlist. It's my new go to player, since seeqpod hasn't been running. it's probably honestly better than any other site you listed in terms of user-friendliness, not that those are bad sites. No downloads necessary or anything. I'm not affiliated with the site, I'm just a fan and I think you guys might like it. I have no idea how this can be legal though!

  11. Dave
    July 14, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    If You Make It, has bunch of free albums for download along with Quote Unquote Records, both of which are donation based.

    ifyoumakeit.com/albums
    quoteunquoterecords.com

  12. Tabiji
    April 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Yes, the downloads are free but most are not very good.

  13. panzi
    April 21, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Oh, and another site with free high quality game music dedicated to the Zelda Videogame Series is: http://www.zreomusic.com/

  14. panzi
    April 21, 2009 at 9:25 am

    You forgot: magnatune.com
    There is a lot of good music that is free for non commercial use. However, if you don't pay anything every mp3/ogg has the spoken text "this was track X from the album Y by Z from magnatune dot com" appended. You can buy the music online and chose how much you want to pay by your self in a given range. Once bought you can redownload it as often as you wish. They have lossles flac files there!

    However, the real way of making money with magnatune is music licensing for commercial projects. E.g. the soundtrack of the game Braid consists entirely of songs from magnatune.com. I compiled the list of songs here: http://twoday.tuwien.ac.at/pub/stories/322135/

  15. Ariel
    April 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    last.fm also has music that can be downloaded free in addition to cataloging the music you listen to on your computer. It's a really sweet website!

  16. Space_
    April 20, 2009 at 3:37 am

    Thought I'd drop by and add http://www.youtorrent.com - It got pwned by the RIAA etc and so reopened with terabytes of legal music etc.

    Great list btw.

  17. Momo
    April 19, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    6 more fee music websites:
    1. ArtistServer.com
    2. Epitonic
    3. GarageBand
    4. Download.com (Music)
    5. SpiralFrog
    6. eMusic

  18. Brian Bridges
    April 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    i'm SO disappointed that you didn't mention Jamendo.com, which has more than 18K FREE albums with Creative Commons licenses. Great music site.

  19. Hezee
    April 19, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    you should try ourstage.com

    i realy like it!

  20. SunsetKid
    April 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm
  21. JX
    April 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I have a campus radio show which specializes in free music from across the internet (as well as locally), so some of these sources will come in handy! I would also like to point out two other great sources for free music:

    http://www.jamendo.com/en/

    http://freealbums.blogsome.com/

  22. Rebecca
    April 19, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Awesome, I hadn't seen the legal torrents site before. It'd be nice if they organized the torrents according to genre/etc. a bit more, but still, free is free!

    One of the other sites that I prowl for music is thesixtyone.com. Not all songs are downloadable (I haunt the "recently submitted" chart to find more of them), but you can listen to everything in good quality as much as you want. Nice browsing and listening capabilities on the site.