Sources of legal free music

Or, how you can download 10,000 songs per year for free without infringing a single copyright


If you use any of the big three online music stores (iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic), you may be aware that each of them has a section where they give away free music.

You may not be aware that that is the tip of the iceberg.

I download approximately 11,000 songs per year for free without infringing any copyrights (“pirating” music, as the RIAA would call it). I list each of these sources as free and legal on one or more of these grounds:

  1. They explicitly say that the songs they give away or link to are free and legal. (Example: Largehearted Boy.)
  2. They link directly to artist, label, promotion-company, or music-store websites (so you're really getting the MP3 directly from a person or company who certainly is authorized to give it away). (Example: Largehearted Boy.)
  3. They are a music distribution service where artists and labels upload the music and set the price themselves. (Examples: Amie Street, Bandcamp, SoundCloud.)
  4. They're high-enough profile that they would have gotten in legal and/or reputation trouble by now if they didn't have permission to give away some of the songs they give away, or if they didn't have permission to do so for free. (Examples: Pitchfork, Spinner.)

There are some sources that I know about but don't use for one reason or another. I have created a separate section for these below.

Many sources, and seemingly free music in general, skew towards indie rock. I like finding sources that don't; I would like to have more variety in my sources, as I have eclectic tastes.

I welcome suggestions for more sources of free and legal music. My email address is on the front page.

Sources I use

Other and retired sources

“Uncertain authorization” means I'm not certain that the site is distributing songs with permission. Most of these have an easier-to-ask-forgiveness-than-permission policy, usually stated as “songs are up for X weeks and may not be available after that”, optionally coupled with “if you're the copyright holder and would like a song of yours taken down, contact …”.

Such sources post whatever songs they feel deserve attention, without any particular regard for what the artist or label want to give away. They mean well, certainly, so I don't mean to demonize them; this isn't a blacklist. I choose not to follow those sources because I want to see how many songs I can download that are distributed with the permission of the artist and/or label. If you are not so strict, then feel free to hit every one of those links.

This list is mainly so you know what sources I already know about, so you can avoid suggesting one of them to me. If a source isn't in the above list or in this one, then I don't know about it and may want to.


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