Music lovers (in the age of the Internet and mobile web) crave their free music (as in streaming), and they crave free music download sites and apps even more. But it should serve as a cautionary note for music downloaders to know when they are crossing the line and taking away monetary reward from the industry and the artists that work pretty hard to produce and make available for listening pleasure that music they wish to hear and when the fanbase could be aiding acts of piracy.
Out of respect and regard to hard-working musical artists and copyright laws, this webpage will look to cover only those websites that offer legal and high-quality streaming of your favorite musical artists, and that offer free music download links where permissible and legal. And let's keep in mind that far more legal sites will offer features for free streaming than they will free downloading. But following the trail to free streaming can eventually lead to the opportunity and option for a free music download, even for popular artists.
Many music streaming sites will include free music download links from popular artists (usually as a promotional giveaway) in their offering, but it may take patient searching to find them. Now here is a quick breakdown of how quality music can be delivered over the Internet for free without feeling guilty of pilfering the hard work and monetary rewards entitled to most struggling musical artists.
Everyone wants a free music download, but...
In most instances, you can generally expect that most free music download websites will offer free web streaming, free music player/radio, mobile apps, or any other feature to listen to music free online. And although a site may be designated as a free download site, in certain cases only selected recordings may be available just for streaming. But it is known that pop music aficionados crave possession of mp3 files, so the emphasis of this webpage will focus on free music download and the mp3 file resulting from that.
What do recording artists make from streaming sites? That depends, as it may be difficult to come up with an industry average mostly because most services don't give out numbers and payout scale can vary from artist to artist anyway. In 2018 it was reported (according to web resource, 'Information is Beautiful') that among the most well regarded streaming services, Napster paid $0.0190 per play, and following: Tidal - $0.0125, Apple Music - $0.0074, Google Play - $0.0068, Deezer - $0.0064, Spotify - $0.0044, Amazon - $0.0040, Pandora - $0.0013, YouTube - $0.0007. At a penny a play, a highly popular recording artist could stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in revenue. Of course, lesser known artists without the brand name behind them could have their struggles with this model.
When music piracy happens
Music streaming is generally thought to have lessened the impact of digital piracy, but it does have a drawback in the minds of music fans. When you use music streaming services, you don’t own any music – you have only been granted a license to listen to it.
There are loads of sites that let users stream music for free, with brief breaks in the music for ads. And there are services like Spotify, Apple Music and others that, for a small fee, allow signed-up customers to stream music ad-free, and depending on the particular mp3 song, also allow users to download that music for offline listening at no extra charge.
A general notion of music piracy is that someone will use a digital "rip" app or website to extract an embedded mp3 file from a music site, going around the established limited streaming play allowed and subsequent shopping cart selection and purchase. But in a review of copyright laws from regions across the globe, one could interpret that as long as the downloading is done for personal use and not for replicating, reselling or other redistribution purposes, a single download for personal use can fall under the “fair use” act (but of course it's not an action a recording artist or record company would want you to do). To be sure, copyright laws grow more detailed to account for the constantly changing state of musical and creative media downloading and sharing dynamics.
Watch YouTube video "Best Free and Legal Music Download Sites"
Facebook news on latest artists releases and free music download links
Follow the Facebook posts and feeds for the mp3 download and music sites to learn about the latest mp3 song and music news you are interested in. Some sites in the feed will be different from mp3 sites listed below in the linked profiles, so use with discretion.
Twitter news on latest artists releases and free music download links
Follow the Twitter posts and feeds for the mp3 download and music sites to learn about the latest mp3 song and music news you are interested in. Some sites in the feed will be different from mp3 sites listed below in the linked profiles, so use with discretion.
AMAZON DIGITAL MUSIC STORE – An obviously recognizable brand, Amazon offers more than 50,000 songs for free largely drawing from it's Amazon Music Unlimited service. Even well known musical artists and bands will have tracks available here for free download. Downloads are better facilitated by the Amazon MP3 Downloader, especially for multiple track selections. You can see the all the free music download links by clicking on a genre or sorting by popularity, release date, length of the song, reviews, or in alphabetical order by title, artist, or album. Expect Amazon to give account holders greater access to features and options than without an account.
Another access point to the free music on Amazon is to do a sort on the music listing interface from the pricing category. At the Amazon Music Download Store, you can find an array of options to help narrow the selection of the kind (and price) of music you wish to consider. Naturally, you will be able to stream from here as well. Along the left-side column, there are an array of link selections as well as drop-down boxes. Among the selections can be found one for the price, which would offer you pricing options as low as $0.01 to call up from the database and be displayed. It should also allow you to select pricing of $0.00, and to the right-hand side of the same page, you should see selection buttons that will reflect the current price and indicate when a particular song is a free music download.
BESONIC – Close to the site header, the genres of music listed include, “Rock and Alternative,” “Pop and Electro,” “Hip-Hop, Soul, and Urban,” “Jazz and Blues,” and “Mixed Up.” Then those genre categories are further sub-divided into several sub-categories. There are also News, Forum, Last Hour's Top Searches, and Upcoming Calendar Events sections.
CC TRAX – From an austere interface set in gray tones, that seems to be put together strictly with mobile users in mind, cc trax serves up Electronica, Dub, Techno, House, Downtempo, Ambient, and even Rock, Modern Classical and Jazz contained in the "Other" category. All music is available to site visitors under a Creative Commons music license, making all music free and available to download and share. Streaming and downloading music from cc trax can be done without an account or log in, and even entire albums can be downloaded. From its minimally designed landing page, cc trax will also show you the most recent track additions, offer a site search on various criteria, rate the popularity of albums of the week, show current top-rated artists, give video highlights, and more.
DATPIFF – DatPiff caters primarily to the Hip-Hop, urban crowd, and is a place where major rap artists are known to drop exclusive music tracks and mixtapes. Started in 2005, over time DatPiff has received major sponsorship deals from companies such as Nike and VH1. A standout aspect for this site is that unregistered users are allowed to download, for free, any mixtape uploaded (you can upload your mixtape) to the site that has been sponsored or funded by the artist or a record label. Beyond downloading new tapes, visitors can view release schedules, and listen to fan-made compilation albums. Registered users are permitted a limited number of downloads of non-sponsored mixtapes per day. Premium paid users have an unlimited number of downloads of any mixtape. Additionally, the site even features a pop-out player to stream before downloading, and a news aggregator that gets stories from sites like, HipHopLately, HipHopEarly, and other news sources.
FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE – The site, which has a long history, has its collection of hi-fidelity works curated by WUFM – an independent freeform radio station in New York. The homepage for the site resembles the cluttered front page of a high circulation newspaper, but there is a panel that allows you to select by musical genre including, Soul-RnB, Classical, Pop, Electronic, Novelty, Folk, International, Instrumental, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Experimental, Old-Time/Historic, Country, Rock, Blues, Spoken.
GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC – Google maintains a clean, modern interface at its Google Play Music store which is part of Google Play. The music store can be accessed by either mobile device or computer. Users with standard accounts can upload and listen to up to 50,000 songs from their personal libraries at no cost. Opening an account with Google Play Music usually means registering a Gmail account which then gives you access to (much of) the Google universe of apps, resources and portals. Users with standard accounts can upload and listen to up to 50,000 songs from their personal libraries at no cost. Logged-in users can listen to songs through the service's web player and mobile apps. Songs can be downloaded on the mobile apps for offline playback, and on computers through the Music Manager app. To find a free music download link, once you are in the Google Play Music website, type "free music" into the search bar next to the Google Play logo and on the resulting search-results screen it should bring up a selection of songs and albums that are available as free downloads. Alternatively, if you are searching for your favorite artist(s), the resulting playlists will usually indicate which songs are available for a free download, if any. Google Play Music also has podcasts and lets you upload your own music to listen from anywhere.
INTERNET ARCHIVE – The Internet Archive is actually a multi-faceted archive and information repository. A section of the Internet Archive (Audio Archive) contains the Live Music Archive, established in partnership with etree.org (a lossless digital audio distributor on the web) and features shows and concerts from a range of prominent artists. And beyond the music collection, The Internet Archive also features old news and public affairs talks, radio shows, audiobooks, and poetry readings. Visitors are encouraged to upload their audio project after setting a Creative Commons license at the outset of the upload process.
ITUNES – It is worth including Apple Music's iTunes in this listing since they are a huge destination for music streaming and purchasing, and a significant force for music selection in the music industry. But downloading free music from iTunes is not a quick and dirty scheme. It is worthwhile noting that Apple employs a technology called Digital Rights Management (DRM) to keep track of media files dispensed from its site. DRM (or Fair Play) is now used primarily with movies and television shows Apple distributes, but could still apply to a limited music selection. The iTunes app has to be installed and a licensing agreement must be acknowledged before anyone can browse the contents of iTunes music selection. Depending on what you want to download free (or possibly purchase) you may need to submit payment information to the account section. Periodically, iTunes updates a list of new contents and songs available for free music download. The best way to discover what they have is to type into the search bar or the iTunes app, "Free on iTunes," and you will be presented with a selection of what is available for free download. Free music is also available on iTunes through the promotional offer and the free iTunes radio features. Also, you can sign up on the iTunes mailing list to receive instant updates on free songs. Podcasts seem to be available to download on iTunes at no charge. Podcasts can be found by navigating a pull-down selection menu near the left-hand corner of the iTunes app.
JAMENDO MUSIC – What began so many years ago as an outlet for unsigned independent artists to release new recordings to the fanbase, is now a platform of 40,000 plus artists that use this website's easy on the eyes interface to facilitate artist discovery either through free music download or free streaming, as well as a catalog of stock music for commercial use. Music is built into and discovered through "Communities" as well as genre, and a "Best of Jamendo Music" category.
LAST.FM – Though known primarily as a upper-tier music streaming service, Last.fm does make it fairly clear to visitors and subscribers exactly what music is available as a free download at their "Download Free Music" page. This is in contrast to other sites that may make you wade through paragraphs or pages of reviews before getting to a free .mp3 download link. Last.fm lets you keep track of musical selections from any player. Based on your taste, Last.fm recommends you curated music and concert selections. Last.fm maintains an intelligence resource on their landing page that measures, recent scrobbles (Last.fm defines "scrobbles" as tracks being listened to by users), Spiking Artists, Spiking Tracks, All Time Scrobbles, what's being listened to Around The World, including a futuristic jukebox that let's someone select a particular music genre and a particular time era, then play the resulting track that appears from the selection.
LIVE MUSIC ARCHIVE – Live Music Archive is a partnership between Internet Archive and etree.org (both of which were mentioned just before this entry), a community dedicated to providing high-quality, lossless versions of live concerts. This site has an abundance of concert material, much of which focuses on jam bands such as the Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident, and Sound Tribe Sector 9. And there are other bands to choose from — The Smashing Pumpkins, Jack Johnson, Animal, etc. — along with plenty of genres to browse, ranging from jazz to reggae. Media Types offered by the site include collections, concerts, audio, movies. Upon finding a particular show, you can often stream or download the individual tracks as a FLAC or MP3, allowing you to play the tracks in your media player of choice.
MP3.COM – This site has been around since the 1990s (making it one of the originals), but now exists in more scaled down form from its heyday. It is currently owned and maintained by CBS Interactive (yes, the TV people). It seems to have more of a strong focus on retro sounds of the 80s, 90s, but also the 2000s. MP3.com will also run theme roundups like The Top 15 Greatest Theme Songs of the 80s, The Top 10 Greatest Theme Songs of the 90s, Every Britney Spears Era Ranked, Every Janet Jackson Era Ranked, Girl Groups of the '90s Ranked, and etc. It also features guides, techniques, and resources to get the free music download from other music services.
MUSOPEN – At Musopen the focus is on classical music and Musopen has recordings from some of the most famous classical musicians of all time. Musopen is a 501(c) 3 non-profit based out of San Francisco, California, with a mandate to increase access to music education by providing free music recordings, sheet music, apps, and educational materials. Dedicated to the preservation and accessibility of classical music, Musopen hosts a substantial library of classical songs and compositions without any copyright restrictions. There are membership levels including a paid option. Musopen says it will provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. The music library of royalty free music recordings and sheet music, lets you browse by composer, browse by a performer, browse by instrument, browse by instrument, and browse by form. There is a searchable database, and Musopen's Free Streaming Classical Music Radio.
NOISETRADE – NoiseTrade claims to help artists and labels connect with fans by exchanging free music for email and/or postal codes. Through a clean, modern, website interface, NoiseTrade helps music fans and readers with instant downloads, personalized fan profiles, unlimited listening privileges, and saved history and favorites. The albums you can download from NoiseTrade, are all completely legal to take. The artists just want you to check out their works and if you like what you hear you can tip them or help promote the music to your friends. So to do a free music download of an album you need to enter your email address and zip code. You'll receive the album as a ZIP file which contains the mp3 files. Also, quite uniquely, beyond a large assortment of pop music genres to select from, NoiseTrade offers members and visitors an array of literary audio-books in most all popular reading categories.
PUREVOLUME – PureVolume has carved out a niche for itself in the area of aspiring artists and bands, but also carried downloads from popular artists as well. A straightforward interface allowed you to view featured, view top songs, see top downloads or browse artists. Being in existence since the early 2000's, it has run itself as a social media platform before most well known social media platforms came into being. Listeners and fans can create social profiles to interact with artists and each other, as well as track and share music they like. PureVolume has an off-line presence at top music festivals around The United States, including South by Southwest and College Music Journal's Annual Festival in NYC. At the time of this writing, PureVolume.com was preparing a transition and restructuring into a new format and members were encouraged to download stored music by April 30, 2018.
REVERBNATION – Landing on the ReverbNation site, you quickly begin to understand that you are not just in a place to stream or download digital music. In fact, the website sports many features and innovations to help musical artists launch and project music careers, and listings of mp3 tracks or playlists is just a small part of it. Nevertheless, despite the artist dashboard or toolbox feel to ReverbNation, you will find free music to download in certain places. Since ReverbNation is the musical artist promotional platform that it is, artists will be willing to drop free tracks for fans to access via the distribution channel ReverbNation operates or the artist profile page. Site page, "ReverbNation for Fans" is about as good a place to start a discovery quest. Another way to learn about free mp3 tracks is simply to search through the ReverbNation search box at the top left-hand corner of the webpage. A simple phrase such as, "free mp3 download" is enough to bring up an array of pages to go to find free music to download. Alternatively, you can search on the name of a specific artist to see if they have anything they are giving away at the time. When you consider the sheer size of ReverbNation and the number of artists using various promotional strategies to get their music heard, you will probably wind up with a number of opportunities to discover free music to download and listen to. You will probably need a ReverbNation or Facebook login in to view full options to access what is on the site interface.
SOUNDCLOUD – Another big name in the streaming/download music arena, SoundCloud offers a modern web interface and can be signed onto using just a Facebook or Google Plus social media account. With individual profile creation tools and "Likes," "Follows," and notifications, it resembles a social media community platform itself. Anyone can upload their tracks to SoundCloud before specifying whether they are available for download or just streaming purposes. There is free music to download on SoundCloud, and both big-name and lesser-known artists often offer free downloads if you can manage to find their verified profile. You can, however, type "free music download" into the search box on the navigation bar and bring up a results page that will show generalized results for that search term. SoundCloud also features a section of the site dedicated to tracks released under Creative Commons licenses, which means you are legally able to download, remix, or tweak them as you desire. SoundCloud lets you browse by artist, genre, popularity, or latest postings.
STEREOGUM.COM – Stereogum functions as a music blog that focuses on music news, song premieres, and commentary. You can stream music from this site, or browse through its archive of past songs, many of which went on to become hits and favorites. In between downloads, you can also search its news features for the latest stories in the alternative music world. You may have to dig through the music reviews and commentary a bit in order to get to the free album and song downloads.
YOUTUBE MUSIC – YouTube Music is a streaming music platform that will seek to adapt more characteristics of SoundCloud, Last.FM, Spotify, Apple Music, and others in the same category to better compete with them. It is officially set to launch May 22, 2018. Reportedly it will mirror the Spotify model in great degree and offer a free, ad-supported tier as well as a premium version. The paid tier, which will be called YouTube Music Premium, will be available for $9.99 per month. YouTube Music will debut in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea before expanding to 14 other countries. Reportedly, current music service, Google Play Music will slowly be phased out or folded into the new service. Stay tuned for further details on how this unfolds and what kind of allowance Google/YouTube might make for free downloads. Stay tuned to this space to learn more details as they emerge.
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Free music download on Google Play Music, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube Music and other legal, free download mp3 sites