Because with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, it’s easy to get commercial music. But these apps are for personal entertainment. If you need to play music in any type of creative project, you may want to find public domain music or content that is governed by a Creative Commons license.
In any case, these music can be downloaded for free and can be used legally in any way. Thankfully, there are some great websites that make it easy to browse and download a lot of public domain and copyright-free music.
FreePD has a large amount of music that can be freely reused, as can be seen from the title of the website, all the content here is 100% free, with no attribution, and no copyright. The categories browsed include different genres such as cheerful and positive, epic and dramatic, horror, romantic and sentimental, and many other genres.
The site has various levels. You can download individual MP3 tracks for free, but you can also download 800 MP3 tracks at once for a fee of $10, or download more for $25, including 100 higher quality WAV files. The site also makes it easy for you to tip content creators through PayPal. All music from the site can be streamed and sampled from the site before downloading.
2. Open Music Archive
Open Music Archive is a website launched by British artists Eileen Simpson and Ben White, a pair of musicians who regularly collaborate and focus on copyright issues in the music industry. OMA has a large collection of music archives in the public domain, covering a variety of genres and styles.
The site’s search can be a bit challenging, though, as it’s designed around browsing through a few casual collections of tags. You can click on specific vintages, categories like Vocal, Happy, and Country, and artists like Guthrie, Virginia Liston, and Johnny Dodds —the structure isn’t very organized. You can download tracks from the website without restriction, or play the website’s catalog through SoundCloud (but you can’t preview or play them on OMA’s web pages).
3. Free Music Archive
If you’re looking for royalty-free music that you can download and incorporate into other projects, the Free Music Archive should be one of your first stops. It is one of the oldest sites of its kind and was established in 2009 by independent East Coast radio station WFMU. Most of the music here isn’t really in the public domain, but under Creative Commons licensing, which means you’ll need to check the license to see what rights you have over any given track (although “CC BY” is the most common and allows you to share, copy, remix, and republish songs in any form, even commercial).
The site collects a large collection of tracks, divided into 16 categories, including Blues, Country, Hip Hop, Pop, Rock, and Old Times, to name a few. You can stream, sample, and download individual tracks from the website’s built-in, easy-to-use player. The use of the site is 100% free.
Musopen is a non-profit website that has been in operation since 2012 and focuses on increasing opportunities for music education, offering not only music files, but also sheet music, music apps, and other educational materials. This makes it a great resource for educators, but be aware that the focus of this site is dedicated to classical music.
You can use the site for free, but access is limited – you can only download five songs a day, and there are other limitations. Users can pay $55 a year for unlimited downloads, access to lossless audio files, and other benefits. In addition to music downloads, you can also stream tracks from the public domain. The site has a powerful search engine that filters by composer, instrument, time period, length, etc.
5. Mubert Render
It’s normal to need music of a specific length, either as a music bed for a video or as a soundtrack for a creative project. Mubert is a somewhat unusual website that can help — it offers music created by artificial intelligence. Just select an emotion, music genre, or activity from a short list and choose a duration, and the site will create an original royalty-free track in just a short period of time. You can listen with the built-in player, or download and reuse it.
The site is completely free to use, but requires you to set up a free account to download the tracks you created. It would be better if there were a broader approach to randomizing tracks, but each song you create includes an option to render a new, similar change.
If you’re still struggling to find copyright-free music, take a look at the 5 sites in the list above and you should learn something.