The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America. Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet. It was launched in 2009.
Every MP3 you discover on The Free Music Archive is pre-cleared for certain types of uses that would otherwise be prohibited by copyright laws that were not designed for the digital era. These uses vary and are determined by the rights-holders themselves (please see our FAQ) who feel that allowing a degree of free cultural access is beneficial not only to their own pursuits, but to our society as a whole. The Free Music Archive is a resource for audiophiles of all stripes, and unlike other websites, all of the audio has been hand-picked by one of our established audio curators.
The Free Music Archive is a platform for collaboration between curators and artists, including radio stations, netlabels, venues, artist collectives, museums, music festivals and more. The site combines the curatorial approach that these organizations have played for the last few decades, with the community generated approach of many current online music sites.
Inspired by Creative Commons and the open source software movement, the FMA provides a legal and technological framework for curators, artists, and listeners to harness the potential of music sharing. Every artist page will have a bio and links to the artists’ home page for users to learn more about the music they discover via the Free Music Archive. We also seek to compensate artists directly where possible. Artist, album and song profiles may contain links to buy the full album from the artist and/or label’s preferred vendor(s). Users can also “tip” an artist if they like what they hear, sending a donation directly to the artists’ PayPal account. Artist profiles can include tour dates, encouraging users to step away from the glowing computer screen and see some real live music.
While the Free Music Archive is free and open to anyone regardless of registration or other requirements, written and audio content is curated, and permission to upload/edit content is granted on an invitation basis.
Press & Further Reading
Free Music Archive: Du Son Libre & Du Bon Son (Syntone.fr)
#cc10 Featured Content: Jason Sigal on Chris Zabriskie (Creative Commons)
Free music that's legal: Where to find it (The Christian Science Monitor)
Where to download free music (MacWorld)
Best free and legal music download sites (Digital Trends)
10 Online Resources for Free, Legal Music (Mashable)
The Free Music Archive: Great Resource for Legal Audio Downloads (Slideshow Blog)
Free Music Archive (Project Web Things)
Kevin Hunt: Where to find free downloadable music (The Courant)
Copyright Friendly Music & Sounds (Library: Brisbane Grammar School)
A Beginner’s Guide to the Free Music Archive (HS Video Teacher)
FMA – Free Music Archive (Reflecting Story)
The Free Music Archive (Pluto55)
Get New Music: Burn CD’s Off the Internet For Free (RealPlayer)
Free Music Archive / World Listening Day field recording mix (The Binaural Diaries)
Filmmaker Resources: Music (Part 1) (5th Cinema)
Free Music Archive (Meathaus)
Free Sound Effects & Music to Super-Charge your Next Project (David Hawkins Blog)
Coverage from Our Re:Mix:Media Contest Series
The Quest for a Copyright-Free Happy Birthday (Laughing Squid)
Happy Birthday Alternatives in Film & Television (World's Best Ever)
Free Music Archive Launches Public Domain Music Contest (Creative Commons)
Early Coverage of the FMA
Website design and development by Cuban Council. This website would not have been possible without the tireless coding of Mark Armendariz, the intuitive design by Anna Arbuckle, Juan Añorga's masterful flash, and Tara Cyphers for making it all go as smoothly as possible.
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, Future of Music Coalition, Creative Commons, Tiffany Camhi, Michael Davison, David van Dokkum, Tommy Engelhardt, Marcus Estes, Michael Feldheim, Ian Frazier, Ken Garson, Dylan Going, Greg Harrison, Austin Julian, Greg Klass, Matt Kruglinksi, Wendy M Levy, David Lorenz, Matt Marando, Markian Martynetz, Pranay Nadkarni, Graham Nalle, Irene Rible, Nayelli Rodriguez, Nat Roe, Marcel Rudin, Caleb Townsend, Jen Vafidis, and Alex Yockey. Initial funding for The Free Music Archive came from the New York State Music Fund, a program of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Additional funding support has been provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, by the National Endowment for the Arts, and by charitable contributions from FMA users.