Openly licensed music & sound
Most of us are familiar with where to search on the web for openly licensed images and films, but one area that many report as difficult is locating openly licensed music and audio.
Here’s a collection of some great web resources to find and share a range of openly licensed audio.
Not only does the Wikipedia project provide a community sourced encyclopaedia, the media used to create it are required to be openly licensed. You can search for specific sound files on Wikimedia Commons
(My personal favourite is the mysterious “Bloop” noise, an ultra-low frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1997. Read more and listen to the Bloop here.)
Free Music Archive (FMA)
The Free Music Archive is a library of high-quality, licensed audio downloads directed by American radio station WFMU. FMA was launched in 2009 and sees itself as continuing radio as offering the public free access to new music.
Music can be explored by genre, and clicking through to the artist or track page will provide licence and download options. There are also options to filter your search to specific licensed content.
SoundCloud is a global online audio platform based in Germany, that enables users to upload, record, and share their originally-created sounds such as music and spoken word. SoundCloud is used by a broad range of amateur and professional artists, societies, and broadcasters.
The SoundCloud search allows you to filter and limit the results to specifically licensed content. Clicking through to the artist or track page to view the license details.
Click on the ‘… More‘ button to see if the track is available for download. Note, not all tracks on SoundCloud are downloadable. If there’s no download button it means the user who uploaded the file didn’t intend for it to be downloadable, even if it has been openly licensed.
Dig CC Mixter
This site was created by Creative Commons as an accessible place for musicians to submit and openly licence their work to be re-mixed, used for videos, podcasts or school projects.
You can choose to explore Instrumental music for film and video, free music for commercial projects, or music for video games. Having clicked through to one of those three collections you can then further filter the results by clicking on the blue ‘filter button’ on the top right of the page and selecting the exact type of licence to search.
A collection of excellent sounds and compositions by musician Kevin MacLeod. The collection has been made available under a CC BY 3.0 licence, and if attribution isn’t possible (depending on how the work is being used) a paid license can be purchased.
Kevin has also compiled a large collection of Public Domain music and sound which can be accessed at Freepd.com.
Wait, there’s more! Kevin provides a list of other musician’s who are making their sounds available on open licences. You’ll find the list at the bottom of his F.A.Q page.
Musopen is a non-profit focused on increasing access to music by creating free resources and educational materials. They provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. The site is easy to navigate with clear information on performer and licence details.
This site does require the registration of an account, but then you can filter a public domain only search for music, sound effects, video, and more. The sound files are of great quality and easily downloaded.
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
The IMSLP was started in 2006 with the hefty goal of gathering together all openly licensed music scores, in addition to the music scores of all contemporary composers who wish to release them to the public free of charge. The collection currently boasts 116,907 works, 384,880 scores, 43,960 recordings, 14,990 composers, and 392 performers, across a variety of licenses.
Want more? Sure thing! Go to the Internet Archive for recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users.