The internet has made it easy to download just about any song you want for free, but frankly, illegally downloading music just isn’t an option if you’re the honest type looking to support the artists and producers who enrich our lives.
Thankfully, there are still a host of excellent websites that allow you to legally download and locally store your music free of charge. Here, I’d like to recommend 10 of them for you.
Like the fictional “watchers” from Buffy the Vampire, the Archive observes and records the Web as it changes over time. However, you might not be aware that it is also home to a vast virtual bounty of free media, including audio. If you head over to the site’s audio archive, you’ll find a rich library of downloadable and streamable sounds ranging from music to audio books to recordings of old timey radio programs. For music fans, the most intriguing audio section will probably be the Live Music Archive, which was put together in partnership with etree.org. Here, you will find a deep collection of live tracks from “trade-friendly artists” (i.e. jam bands) like the Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident, and Blues Traveler. Click on each collection and you’ll find “download options” section in the right-hand rail.
Even if you don’t use last.fm, you’re probably at least somewhat aware that it offers music streaming. But even those who do use it may not be aware that it boasts a constantly updated repository of free downloadable audio goodies. Just check out its free music download section to see what’s currently available. And the best part? It’s all free and even accessible to non-subscribers. Last.fm don’t care! Just download and forget ’em. Also, you can use Streaming Audio Recorder to record streaming songs. If necessary, download the program below.
Against much bigger competition like Spotify and Apple Music, scrappy little SoundCloud has become a major streaming music force, including its own subscription-based a la carte streaming service, SoundCloud Go. The free SoundCloud platform has become a favorite of independent artists and big names as a means to distribute music. Not everything on the site is downloadable, however many tracks can be grabbed. All you have to do is sign in (which you can do with an email address or via your Google or Facebook accounts) and use Streaming Audio Recorder to capture them.
You’ll need an account to download these mp3s, but Amazon is full of free stuff. Just click “Departments” on the Amazon home page and Deals under “Digital & Prime Music.” On the left, you’ll see sections for free songs and free albums.
NoiseTrade differentiates itself from other download platforms geared for independent artists in that it asks listeners to trade something in return for downloads. In particular, you trade your email or street address (or Facebook account) to that artist in return for free tunes. In theory it’s a symbiotic relationship since they want that info to let you know about upcoming releases or tour dates (which you, as a fan, would love to have). Fans even have the ability to leave a “suggested tip” with an artist—you know, compensating them using actual money. Crazy, right?
Do you have any other good recommendation? Tell us in the comments below.