Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
A few weeks ago we took a look at the Prelinger Archives, a swelling collection of video that’s free to be taken, adapted and used in any way you see fit in your own projects. Thanks to the Creative Commons licence you’re free to take the video, audio or both and make something wonderful.
Today we’ll be looking at one of the web’s best and truly free resources for audio material – be it samples of instruments, drum loops, a capellas or even full songs. If you’ve been thinking of trying your hand at a few remixes and some music creation but have struggled to find samples then look no further.
What Is CCMixter?
CCMixter is a hearty collection of sound files that you’re encouraged to download, modify and use in your own creations. If you’re producing a video and need some backing music or sound effects, CCMixter provides an attractive cost-free solution. Similarly if music is your thing and you’d like some drum loops or vocals then you can take all you want for free under the Creative Commons licensing scheme.
Creative Commons licensing is in fact something the guys behind CCMixter feel very strongly about. Not only is it your golden ticket to gigabytes of free sounds, but it’s also a license to be respected and adhered to at all times. Not everything can be used commercially, and some uploads (which we’ll be getting to later) have very restrictive licensing conditions. If you’re going to use something from CCMixter, show some respect to the original uploader and follow their licensing conditions.
Aside from being an inspiring source of creativity and a great way to kill a couple of hours, CCMixter stands out from the sea of other remix sites and competitions in that you don’t have to forfeit all rights to your creation once submitting it. I’ve seen countless remix competitions where every entry (not just the winners) can be used in any capacity whatsoever once submitted, without so much as a credit. CCMixter differs in that there is no onus on you to upload to the site once you’ve done, and you’re free to stick your remixes wherever you like – provided you adhere to licenses of course!
The site is fairly “raw” in terms of design and content – everything is well-organised, with samples, remixes and a capellas separated into three different categories. If you’re short on inspiration then the Featured tab under Samples lists the most recent interesting additions, including artists who have submitted stems (individual remix ingredients) for the community to work on – like this one from DJ Vadim. One final area of particular interest can be found on the Extras page, under “How I Did It” which reveals some insight into the tools and techniques used in some of the collection’s many remixes.
Digging for Music
Finding samples and vocals is a relatively time-consuming process, but if you’re writing music then the slog is usually worth it to find just what you’re looking for. If you’re not knee-deep in some creative process, working your way through finished music can prove somewhat more of an obstacle, but thankfully there’s a tool to help you out.
digCCMixter is a shortcut to finished remixes, organised by what you can and can’t use them for. So if you’re looking for instrumentals to use in your latest video project, you can browse by instrumental music for videos. Similarly, if you need music for commercial purposes (i.e. to promote anything that isn’t the music itself) then you can browse music approved for commercial use. Putting together a podcast and looking for cleared music? You’ll be wanting podsafe music. Need music for a video game? Lucky for you they’ve got a music for games section too.
Of course you’re free to just search the whole collection to see what turns up, listening, downloading and enjoying the free fruits of the Creative Commons licence. digCCMixter is a great tool, with an in-line player that makes previewing tracks a quick and painless process.
Last but not least if you’re an iPhone owner then you’ll be pleased to hear you can explore the bounty of music on offer at CCMixter on-the-go, with the official app. Featuring remixes organised as per the content on digCCMixter, there’s plenty to keep you entertained whether you’re just listening or browsing for something specific.
Featuring a cover-flow style browser, the ability to play songs in the background and sharing options, it’s a nice way to listen or browse the collection on the go.
Download: CCMixter @ App Store
If you could use free, downloadable audio that’s licensed for fair use in your next project then CCMixter is an invaluable resource to have at your disposal. digCCMixter makes the perfect tool for cutting through the huge collection. Don’t forget to adhere to any Creative Commons licenses you encounter, and if you make something wonderful then why not share it under a similar license yourself?
If you have used CCMixter in the past then we’d love to see a few examples – feel free to drop any links to projects in the comments, below.