Originally posted on mashable.
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Everyone likes getting something for free, right? Well, what if we told you we’d found five free music download sites that are completely above board and legit? The sites we’re featuring all offer some kind of free audio downloads, giving you a risk-free way to discover new bands and artists.
If you like what you hear and can afford to do so, you can choose to pay to download more of their content in order to support them.
Here, in alphabetical order, are five free music download sites we love to browse.
Now owned by music platform and music licensing company Tribe of Noise, the Free Music Archive, or FMA, was founded in 2009 by radio station WFMU. The site offers free access to open licensed, original music.
The FMA states that tens of millions of visitors every month download music for personal use, and many share and remix music from FMA in videos, podcasts, films, games, apps, and even school projects.
You can browse the wealth of free-for-personal-use music by genre. These include blues, electronic, hip-hop, jazz, pop, rock, country, folk, classical, soul and R’n’B, as well as more niche categories such as spoken content, experimental audio, and old time/historic.
What we particularly like is that those genres are broken down into sub-genres. So, for example, electronic has jungle, techno, chill-out, trip-hop, and dubstep as sub-categories, among others.
You can also do keyword searches to find content. You can stream music on the site, and when you find a track you like, simply click on the download arrow. You can also add tracks to your own “mixes.”
FMA users can “tip” an artist if they like what they hear, sending a donation directly to the artists’ PayPal account.
Jamendo was founded in Luxembourg in 2004 and was the first platform to legally share music for free from any creator under Creative Commons licenses. Jamendo states it’s “all about connecting musicians and music lovers from all over the world.”
On Jamendo Music, you can enjoy a catalog of more than 500,000 tracks shared by 40,000 artists from more than 150 countries all over the world. You can stream all the music for free without signing in.
If you hear something you like and want to download it (for personal use only) you do need to sign in, but it’s a quick and simple process. Once signed in, simply hit the “Free Download” button you’ll see next to the “Play” button on the track’s page. Liking, sharing, and adding the track to a playlist are all similarly simple things to click.
If you want to use Jamendo Music for new music discovery, we recommend browsing the site’s “Hot Selections,” playlists handpicked by Jamendo’s music experts. You can also use Jamendo’s “Explore” tab to browse by communities, playlists, and if you’re keen to find The Next Big Thing, latest releases.
Since 2006, ReverbNation has offered an online streaming service for artists to promote their work and for fans to enjoy it. ReverbNation is primarily a music streaming service that gives users the ability to purchase music. The platform also allows artists to set different permissions for their content, and some do choose to offer free downloads.
If a track on ReverbNation is available to download, you’ll see a small download icon next to the song’s time duration. Simply click it to save it to your computer.
Some artists and bands may require you to “Like” their page, share their page, or sign up for their mailing list, but if you’re a fan of that track, it’s not too much of an issue.
We like ReverbNation’s very clean design and simple user interface. You can simply click “Play” on any of the featured collections to discover new music, hand-picked by ReverbNation’s Curation Team.
You can use the sidebar to browse or see what’s new in your favorite genres. Any time you find something you like, you can add it to your library or share music with friends and to social networks.
The longest established service we’re featuring, SoundClick is a true pioneer in online music. Founded in 1997 by twin brothers Tanju and Tolgar Canli, SoundClick’s mission is “to work on the artists’ behalf, to make their music easily available online.”
SoundClick is a social music community with particularly robust social features. If you sign up, you get your own profile page with photo albums and video uploads. You can also create your own SoundClick stations.
You can stream and download music on the site. There are many, many tracks available to download for personal use in the MP3 format for free, but do be aware that some are only available for purchase.
Tracks that can be downloaded are easily identified by the download icon to the right of the screen.
Downloading is super quick and easy. You simply need to click the download button, and the download begins instantaneously.
Launched in 2008, SoundCloud claims to be the “world’s largest music and audio platform.” SoundCloud lets people discover a wide selection of music from a very diverse creator community; music and audio creators use SoundCloud to share their content with a global audience so we get to enjoy great music, for free, online.
SoundCloud features music from all the genres you’d expect. It’s super-simple to keyword search and find a track or SoundCloud playlist you like the look of. If you hear a song you particularly like, you can click through to see if it’s available as a free download.
On the web, you can download tracks once you have signed in to your SoundCloud account by clicking on the download file button beneath the waveform.
If you don’t see a download file button, it means the user who uploaded it did not intend for it to be downloadable.
You can follow artists to see when they have new content. SoundCloud makes it easy to share music with friends and to social networks. Hitting the “Share” option gives you the ability to share the track to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, or send via email.