Who doesn’t like to download free music and enjoy some songs from a favorite artist? Unfortunately, with the proliferation of illegal download methods, it has become extra easy to get a helping of malware and viruses along with that file, especially for the unwary.
To help your search for free tunes, here is a list of the best, safest, and most legal ways to look for next time you want to download free music.
1. “Free Download Special” Sites
This large group of websites is handy because you probably already use at least one of the sites already. They tend to serve as large e-commerce hubs that sell a variety of products, but in one little corner they have a never-ending list of free downloads from some featured artist.
Sites like iTunes still have their continually changing free downloads, as well. If you use a music streaming service (and who doesn’t these days?) check their sites for potential downloads, too. Services like Last.fm offer a collection of free downloads in addition to their streaming services.
Check out Amazon for thousands of free downloads that most people miss because they simply do not take the time to look. They usually offer downloads of up-and-coming artists, hoping to spread the word about their music.
When it comes to music downloads, this is an oldie, but still a viable option. Alive since the late 1990s (when they still used to be called mp3s), this site has shrunk a bit since its heyday, but is still worth a look if you want to download free music. Do not expect all of the current songs to be on their lists, but if you want a free download of “that one song” that you heard years ago, but cannot find at any other popular site, pay a visit.
This site is in many ways the opposite of mp3.com. It was formed only several years ago and has a very contemporary view of music files and downloads. It is also very collaborative, working with a variety of other sites and organizations to draw in as much content as possible.
The Free Music Archive is probably your best bet for finding a current popular (or pop) song. However, if you have in mind an indie band, do a quick search for them, too. FMA allows artists to directly post their own music to the site, so that local band may have a few of their songs available.
Stereogum is halfway between MP3.com and Free Music Archive, in both age and general approach to music styles. 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.
If you have not yet found what you are looking for, try to download free music on Jamendo. This site has collected works from more than 40,000 artists, many with entire albums that you can download.
Jamendo works more with new and indie artists than anyone else, but it is still worth a stop, particularly because of its great search functions. Because you are dealing with so much content, Jamendo allows you to browse songs based on their popularity among other music lovers, letting you quickly find downloads with great reviews.
NoiseTrade is an interesting site. Like MTV.com and Last.fm, it is not exactly designed purely as a music-trading space, but it does make many downloads available to users. Its primary goal is to serve as a marketing platform for rising stars, artists that want an online way to leverage their current music offerings as effectively as possible. This artist promotion is often accompanied by free samples of music.
Soundcloud is a tricky one. Because it is so easy to post music on the site, you will find a lot of covers and a lot of illegal music postings that you should probably avoid. However, Soundcloud also plays nice with a wide variety of labels and artists, and offers a certification feature that allows you to search only for downloads that have been judged legitimate by the site. Because so many people use Soundcloud to share and post music, you have a great chance of finding some of your favorite popular tunes here.
9. The Artists Themselves
Check musicians’ Facebook pages. Read their blogs. Find their official websites. Many artists offer free downloads of their hit songs, their “b-sides,” and other tunes as promotions — but you have to visit their own ground to locate these opportunities.
It really is tough to track down safe, legal places to download free muisic, so take advantage of some of these options — and enjoy some free music!