With the rise of music streaming services, you can now listen to music legally and enjoy them in high quality. However, the biggest turnoff is that you'll often need to pay to download the songs.
This article covers the best MP3 download sites that legally allow you to download music for free. Some of them also allow you to use their free music in videos without fear of violating copyright rules.
1. YouTube Audio Library
The YouTube Audio Library is where you'll find lots of aesthetic music you've mostly heard in vlogs. It's mainly aimed at people who need royalty-free music for YouTube videos. As long as you have a YouTube account, you can access the library via YouTube Studio and download as many songs as you wish.
According to the library's terms and conditions, you can use the tracks in any content you create; it's not just limited to videos. You can also use the songs in monetized videos on the YouTube platform. In addition to free music tracks, the YouTube Audio Library also includes sound effects.
Each song has a sample available, which you can listen to by hitting the small Play icon. If you like what you hear, click the adjacent Download button. Attribution is not required unless the track carries a Creative Commons license.
2. Free Music Archive
The Free Music Archive has been around for many years but remains as popular as ever. It is one of the best places on the web to download music for free.
WFUM—an independent freeform radio station in New Jersey—is the site's founder. Most of the free song downloads are from lesser-known artists, but occasionally you will see a famous name pop up. Regardless, it is a great way to discover new music.
You don't need to worry about legality, as all the tracks on the site are perfectly free to download and listen to. However, if you're planning to alter the songs in some way or use them in a commercial setting, you need to check the license associated with each individual recording and follow the correct attribution format.
Jamendo is a platform that allows independent artists to easily distribute their music to their fans. The site has two sections: Jamendo Music and Jamendo Licensing. At Jamendo Music, all the songs are free and legal to download and play for personal use.
The music is built around "Communities." Navigating a particular community (for example, rock) will introduce you to its leading tracks, albums, and artists. You can sort the music by all-time popularity, what's trending, and the latest releases. If you want to test the waters before you commit to a download, you can tune in to one of the site's themed radio stations.
Take note that you can't stream Jamendo Music tracks in a public location or use them in a commercial project. Only music under Jamendo Licensing can be utilized for this purpose. You can download low-quality samples for free and later pay for the subscription if it's what you need.
They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. And if you use NoiseTrade, that's partly true.
The artists who have listed their music on this site want something in return for the free download, typically a postal code or an email address. The idea is for the bands to easily connect with people who like their music—perhaps to advertise an upcoming tour or highlight the launch of a new album.
At NoiseTrade, you're more likely to find artists you recognize. Although you're not going to find The Killers' latest release, most bands are already signed to a record label and have albums available.
What if pop, rock, and other mainstream genres aren't your thing? If you're more into classical music, you're in luck.
Musopen is a great free music download site for classical music lovers. It has recordings from some of the most famous musicians of all time. You'll find everything from Bach and Beethoven to Tchaikovsky and Holst. You can search by composer, instrument, period, and mood to locate the content you want.
The site extends beyond music downloads; you'll also find lots of free sheet music and educational resources.
Many people don't realize that Amazon can be a source of free music downloads. Under Music by Price in the search filter, just select Free to obtain a list of free downloadable songs.
Unfortunately, Amazon has removed the feature that allowed you to filter the free music by genre. As such, you'll need to go through each page of Amazon's search results and do the digging yourself.
To download the free song or album, tap on it in the search result. Next, hover over Purchase Options and click MP3 Music, which will display the price as $0.00. Then, simply check out your Amazon purchase as usual.
7. The Internet Archive
Did you know that the Internet Archive is useful for much more than only laughing at how bad the web looked in 1999? It's also a fantastic free music website.
For a music lover, the best part of the site is the Live Music Archive. It was built in partnership with etree.org and features shows and concerts from a range of leading artists. All the bands in the collection are "trade-friendly," meaning they've granted fans the right to trade some of their music for non-commercial means freely.
The library doesn't just cover music; it's also one of the best websites to download audiobooks. And you'll also find old news and public affairs talks, radio shows, and poetry readings.
ReverbNation is a great site if you're an up-and-coming band that wants to sell music online. Since the site is primarily aimed at new bands, you're not going to find tracks from the current chart-toppers. Don't let that put you off, though.
ReverbNation has launched the careers of many top bands, including the Alabama Shakes and Imagine Dragons. That means you can be the coolest kid at school by downloading music from tomorrow's hippest artists before they become famous.
To download an artist's music, you need to create an account on the site first, head to the artist's profile, and tap the Become A Fan button. The Download icon will then appear next to the selected songs available for users to download.
Owned by Paramount Global, Last.fm is a large music website that tracks your music and recommends new songs accordingly. One of the goodies the site offers is a list of free music downloads. Just tap the Download icon next to the track, and you're good to go.
While you can download the music for free, it's best only to play them for your personal enjoyment because the site does not state that the free songs can be used for commercial projects.
Like so many of the sites on this list, SoundClick mainly features new artists who seek to share their music and step into the music industry. To download the music, just create an account, type a keyword in the search field, and from the results, tap the Download icon on the song you want.
However, not all the songs on the site are available to download for free; the artist has to make each track available on a case-by-case basis, and some require a small payment.
SoundClick's terms and conditions state that while you can legally download the songs for personal or educational use, you cannot modify them or stream them at a public venue.
CCTrax offers free music downloads that are covered by a Creative Commons license. It specializes in electronica, dub, techno, and ambient tunes.
You can download every song on the site, and no payments are involved anywhere. However, be alert to the Creative Commons license. You can filter the music by license type on the main page so that the tracks from the resulting list can be utilized without legal repercussions.
BeatStars is a global music marketplace for producers and artists. Despite the platform's commercial nature, it still serves as a good free and legal music download site for casual listeners.
Under the Free Beats category, you can filter the songs by tags such as hip-hop, trap, soul, and more. Once you find a song you like, just tap the Free Download icon to download the MP3 file to your device.
You may notice that there is a price listed next to the icon. The price details the purchase and usage terms if you intend to use the music for a song recording, video, public performance, or other similar purposes.
Legally Download Music for Free
The sites above mostly specialize in helping you download music from unknown and upcoming artists rather than current stars. It's largely inevitable, as the latter does not need to distribute their music for free. Generally, if a site offers a free download of Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift's latest album, it's probably illegal.
If you want to legally download the latest mainstream singles, you still need to use paid services like Spotify. But if your goal is to discover gems by independent artists or get free songs for your YouTube videos, all these sites will meet your music needs well.