There are loads of places with Creative Commons music out on the web, but it’s not always easy to find what we want. Between netlabels, podcasts and generic platforms, the world of free music can seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, there are some places that make the quest to find free* music much more accessible. I’ve compiled some of my personal favourites.
*free = libre. As Richard Stallman said, free as in freedom of press and not as in free beers. In most of the cases mentioned, luckily, it’s actually both.
Free Music Archive
Nearly 7 years in, Free Music Archive remains as one of the most exciting and easy-to-navigate platforms where you can find an incredible amount of free music. Community radio station WFMU launched the project in 2009, and it has only improved it ever since. Last year, they did a crowdfunding campaign to revamp the website, which should happen sometime soon. FMA is a community powered by user generated content, but its curatorial services are reserved to official curators. White Market is an official curator of Free Music Archive, so make sure you check out our collection! If you want to find out more about FMA, you can also listen White Market’s interview with the director of Free Music Archive, Cheyenne Hohmann.
This is where you can scavenge through one of the oldest open music communities on the web, ccMixter. The website started back in 2004 as a parallel project of the Creative Commons initiative and it is a platform for collaborative music creation. Basically, musicians upload tracks to the platform, then singers and producers remix them and make them available for the whole community. dig.ccMixter is the search tool to find whatever you need for your project, even if you need something for commercial purposes.
Despite the fact that it doesn’t actually host any track, Starfrosch is definitely one of the best websites to find Creative Commons music. The Switzerland-based website is actually an amazing hub for free music related content, being simultaneously a #hot100 chart, a music blog, a podcast and a radio station. The chart is updated every week and features the most downloaded Creative Commons tracks from variety of sources, such as Soundcloud, Jamendo, Archive.org, FMA and more.
#ccmusic on Bandcamp
Bandcamp is arguably the fairest commercial online music platform for musicians. Even though it supports Creative Commons as licencing options, it’s hard to search for CC tracks only. However, every week, this tumblr page, #ccmusic on Bandcamp, is updated with dozens of Creative Commons releases hosted on Bandcamp. If you love Creative Commons and have some money to spare, buying the records on Bancamp is a great way of supporting the artists you love.
Back in 2007, Jamendo used to be heaven on earth for free music lovers. Nearly a decade later, its mission and ethos have slightly changed, but the Creative Commons licensing framework is still a big part of the music they host. The website was completely revamped last year and Jamendo is now determined to stride as an “independent music community”, but as most of the older CC-licenced music is still available, the platform remains as great platform to find libre music. Just make sure you double check their licence on the right side of the screen.
Imagine Record Store Day, but with free music. Running strong and fast towards its second edition, Netlabel Day is an initiative that highlights the work of netlabels – music labels that publish their music for free and under Creative Commons (or similar) licences. In 2015, the first Netlabel Day ever had the support of 80 labels and saw the release of 120 records. The founder of the project, Manuel Silva from M.I.S.T. Records, told White Market that there will be 120 participating labels and at least 149 confirmed records to be released this year. Save the date, July 14th 2016. To find out more about Netlabel Day, make sure you tune into this week’s episode of White Market.
Other hubs: blogs and podcasts
There many other places where you can download Creative Commons music, but these are probably the less intimidating ones if you’re just starting your quest. Netlabels are obvious places to start, but it can be quite a dauting experience to wonder on these websites without having any idea where to go. In this sense, platforms such as SonicSquirrel, clongclongmoo and the French auboutdufil, which have been around for a long time now, are still valuable resources for finding some of the best free music out on the web. You can also try If you don’t care about release dates, Netlabel Archive is definitely something to look at. On top of these, there are also various blogs of reference including Ziklibrenbib (in French), NetMusic Life (in Italian), VKRS (in English; also an internet radio station) and NetlabelMusic (aggregator of feeds; in various languages).
Last but not least, there are some other podcasts about Creative Commons music beyond White Market, which I totally recommend: Netwaves, Music Manumit, Pilot Eleven, @diffuser.net, Intangible 23 and (the now defunct) C’mmons Baby! are some of the best ones available.
I will make an article about some of the most exciting netlabels out there soon enough. For now, do you have other favourite free music sources? Share them with us! Comment below or start the conversation on twitter @WhiteMarketCast.
.: Featured photo available under Public Domain, by Atul Srivastava :.