How To Find Free Music Online

Posted by April Schwarzkopf

May 20

Listen to Music for Free Online

Are you looking for new music? If you have internet access - the world is your oyster.  Digital music is all over the place right now, which can be both good and bad.  It’s great to have so many avenues to discover great music, but it also makes it difficult for fans and artists alike. Friends are always asking me – How do you find good music?  Like many others, I waste a lot of time on the internet trying to find musical inspiration. After all, exploring the endless possibilities the digital revolution has provided us all can be very time consuming. However, that’s part of the fun – you can get lost in an endless musical sea. So, whether you're streaming downloading or simply exploring - you're sure to find something of interest, but where do you start?


"Image courtesy of Feelart via"
Listen to music online for free


Streaming Music Services

It seems like many of the options available today overlap in some way, because there are services that offer streaming, subscription, reviews, social media and download options. It’s hard to say one service is better than another, because many of them are currently evolving and may change at any time to beat out the competition. The expansion of streaming music services has grown quite a bit in the past five years, possibly as a direct result of consumers opting for smartphones with unlimited data plans. For this very reason, people are embracing “the cloud” more and more, because it can free consumers from the constraints of backing up their entire music library onto compact discs or external hard drives. Major players are getting into the game with GoogleApple and YouTube set to launch their very own streaming subscription music services very soon. Of course, the success or failure of many of these services will depend on whether or not the licensing agreements are fair on both sides of the fence.  

Related Article: A Free-Market Fix for Music Copyrights by Jerry Brito via



Pandora Internet Radio


What's so great about this service? 

Pandora is a fairly popular personalized internet radio service based on "The Music Genome Project." It allows users' to create several different radio stations based on their specified musical preferences.Unlike other services, Pandora actually gets it right most of the time. They have people working behind the scenes with backgrounds in music theory, musicians with years of experience and tech experts to help pull it all together. One of the most irritating things about recommendations after you buy music online is the overly obvious recommendations - "If you like this artist, then maybe you want to buy everything they ever put out?"- How is this helpful? It certainly doesn't help users' discover new music, which is the whole point of recommendation services. Yes, there's an app for that.


What's the catch?

If you're looking for commercial-free radio, then you'll have to pay a small monthly subscription fee. If you're looking for unlimited play on your mobile phone, then you'll have to pay for the subscription service as well.Popularity aside, it seems the service is in financial trouble, claiming high royalty fees are out of whack with what competitors like Satellite radio are required to pay.


Related Article: Pandora's box: The cost of 'free' music by Aidin Vaziri via SFGate


What’s so great about this service?

Last FM is both a music recommendation and streaming radio service. It helps people discover new music based on their listening history. Users can also download the desktop App (Last FM Scrobbler) and the service will offer recommendations based on what’s in a users' music library. Yes, there's an app for that.


What’s the catch?

There are free options and expanded options for subscribers (the catch). Yes, there’s an App for that, but after the free trial (limited to 50 tracks) there’s only a subscription option ($3 per month as of March 2013).  Why should you pay? If you would like uninterrupted radio play (Ad-free) from a computer or mobile app, then by all means – subscribe. The other catch - data plans can vary, so if you're not careful all these great streaming services may eat up your data allowance over the course of a month.


Related Article: Pandora vs by Kristie Bertucci via Gadget Review



Listen to Earbits Internet Radio - Commercial free radio that will blow your mind!


What's so great about this service?


Earbits is a streaming music service built by musicians and music lovers. No commercials, ads or subscription fees – just great independent music handpicked from around the world. So, if you want to discover the best indie music online - check out this great free music streaming service.



Related Article: Earbits' Social Currency Lets Fans Get Music While Artists Get Data by Eliot Van Buskirk via Hypebot





What's so great about this service?

Did you hear the news? Billboard has added YouTube streams to their charts. According to Billboard, there’s often a direct connection between YouTube streams and top selling downloads. Who hasn’t heard of the “Harlem Shake” by Baauer and "Gangnam Style” by PSY? These two songs quickly became internet memes with a little help from parodies. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.


UGA Men's Swim & Dive Harlem Shake


GANDALF STYLE! - Original Parody New Version! (The original parody video had over 11 million views, but Universal claimed copyright infringement).


Related Article: What’s Billboard’s No. 1? Now YouTube Has a Say by Ben Sisario via NYT


Music on Social Media


Music is very social! Well, this isn't exactly a new concept, but one well worth mentioning.  Sharing online discoveries via social media has become almost second nature that many of us probably don’t even think about it very much before we hit share.  Some services are set up to share what we’re listening to automatically – i.e., Spotify via Facebook. Yes, there's an app for all of these.


  • Facebook: Many musicians now have Facebook pages, friends share music on their wall and Facebook music apps make discovering great music easy.


  • Pinterest: Share or disover music content by exploring an abundant variety of music related content - images, video and audio clips.


  • Soundcloud: Follow musicians, upload your own creation, stream, share and comment on what you discover.


  • Twitter: Follow your favorite musician, music magazine or Twitter Music. When exploring the web - tweet your new discovery.


 My Pinterest Music Board

Music Download Services


  • Amazon: There's a wide variety of free mp3 downloads available every single day and some of the selections are actually pretty good.


  • AOL - Yes, AOL ... the “You’ve Got Mail” people are still around and every day they provide a selection of free mp3 downloads.


  • Artist Direct: If you're looking for free music downloads by well-known and not so well-known artists, then this is where you want to go.


  • Google Play: Every day there are several free songs available for download in mp3 format via Google Play. Users can also upload their entire music library (within reason) and enjoy the freedom of music on the go, accessible from your mobile device or through your browser.


  • Free Music Archive:  Free Music Archive is an interactive library of legal audio downloads directed by legendary freeform radio station WFMU.


  •  They have a variety of music genres, free mp3 downloads and a great blog to delight and inspire die hard music fans.


  • Noise Trade: This service offers musicians a great way to find new fans by offering free music downloads. Fans are able to discover great music for free (or they can also provide tips - optional) and share it via email, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. They even have widgets, which is a great way to share music on websites.


Widget from Noise Trade:





Is it safe?

Computer viruses are everywhere – even on legitimate websites, so be smart and invest in good Antivirus protection for your computer.


Is it legal?

A good rule of thumb - steer clear of peer-to-peer music sharing websites. These websites are notorious for Trojan viruses and copyright infringement. If you're not sure about a website's legitimacy - just don't use it.


Is it fair to the artist?

While free music downloads may seem unfair to musicians at first glance - it can often help them gain new fans. So, if you discover someone great (for free) – share it with your friends and help out a struggling musician in the process.


Related Article: Case Study: Is Free Music Worth It? by Nick Roberts via Hyperbot








Topics: music, internet radio, free mp3, free downloads

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