1. FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE
In 2009, New Jersey-based WFMU Radio embarked on a project to make contemporary music of all genres available to the public, and the Free Music Archive was born. Since its inception, WFMU has partnered with dozens of other curators, and the site has become a veritable treasure trove of free content.
The site combines two different approaches to posting tracks: First, it indexes free music posted by all of its partner curators, and second, it allows users to post their own music directly to the archives. This synthesis of sources creates a mind-boggling library of tracks that you could literally spend months browsing through, whether you choose to do so by curator or genre. In addition, the site hosts a myriad of podcasts, and renowned radio stations such as Seattle’s KEXP frequently post live cuts from their studio sessions with big-name acts passing through. The smash tracks may lack some post-production, but they’re also free.
Not every song posted on SoundCloud is free, but both big-name and lesser-known artists often offer free downloads if you can manage to find their verified profile. You can browse SoundCloud by artist, genre, popularity, or latest postings; you will be surprised at how many free tracks are out there. There is also a section of the site dedicated to tracks released under Creative Commons licenses, which means you’re free to download, remix, or tweak them as much as you like.
SoundCloud essentially serves as the YouTube of music uploading, meaning anyone can upload their tracks to the site before specifying whether they’re available for download or strictly for streaming purposes. Moreover, the site touts an extremely active user community and one of the sleekest user interfaces of any site on our list, one conveniently lined with a navigational bar at the top and direct access to the service’s accompanying mobile apps. Artists might not always offer free downloads of their music, but the labels nearly always do. Fair warning: SoundCloud’s had a bit of financial trouble recently, so you might want to visit the site soon and go on a downloading spree just in case the site goes kaput.
Big names like Alabama Shakes, The Civil Wars, and Imagine Dragons all got their start on ReverbNation by sharing their music for free and building up their loyal fanbase. There is a mix of every genre on ReverbNation, but the site tends to lean toward more pop, alternative, and hip-hop than anything else. With a community of nearly 4 million artists, labels, and users, ReverbNation helps you sift through its immersive catalog by giving you cool features like the site’s Discover app and page that will help you find who is about to be the next big thing.
You’re probably used to using this online retailer to buy everything from the best headphones to dog food, so why not add some free music to your shopping list? Believe it or not, Amazon has a massive assortment of thousands of free tunes available via its digital music arm, allowing you to pick through everything from obscure indie and classical music to hits by the Foo Fighters (whose songs Saint Cecelia and Iron Rooster were available for free download on the service, last we checked). Checkout is quick and painless, and it works just like buying a song that costs money on Amazon, sans payment. Simply add a song to your shopping cart, check out, and the tunes are yours.
Rap lovers rejoice! Since the mid-aughts, the hip-hop community has become a veritable breeding ground for free music, much of which comes in the form of mixtapes. Some are original compilations by artists looking to cop some shine, some feature rappers freestyling over popular instrumentals from their contemporaries, and some are just dropped by artists looking to reward their loyal fans with some free tunes — we’re looking at you, Curren$y.
DatPiff is also the only site on this list that consistently offers free music from mainstream artists — think Future and Drake — and remains the No. 1 spot for fans to download new tapes, view release schedules, and listen to fan-made compilation albums. The site even features a pop-out player so you can listen before you download, as well as a news aggregator that collects stories from sites like HipHopEarly……Read more>>