February 28, 2014
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.
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. Are you a podcaster looking for pod-safe audio? A radio or video producer searching for instrumental bed music that won’t put your audience to sleep? A remix artist looking for pre-cleared samples? Or are you simply looking for some new sounds to add to your next playlist? The Free Music Archive is a resource for all that and more, and unlike other websites, all of the audio has been hand-picked by established audio curators.
The Free Music Archive is a platform for collaboration between WFMU and a group of fellow curators, including KEXP, dublab, KBOO, ISSUE Project Room, and CASH Music. 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. Artist, album and song profiles will 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 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.
Do you have a question about how to legally use the music you find on the Free Music Archive? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.