There are millions of songs out there under a Creative Commons licence. But how can you find them? Happily, we’ve compiled a list of the top seven ways to find Creative Commons licensed and public domain music online. Let us know if we’ve missed anything! And if you’re looking to find images or video check our these two companion pieces: 7 Ways to Find Creative Commons Images and 7 Ways to Find Creative Commons Video.
The Free Music Archive offers thousands of songs under Creative Commons licences, searchable by genre or curator. They also have a bunch of Happy Birthday songs to provide an alternative to the famous version, which remains (controversially) under ‘all rights reserved’ copyright. I’ve embedded the winning song below, by Monk Turner + Fascinoma.
Jamendo is one of the largest open music sites out there. The site lets you filter by genre; it also ranks tracks according to their popularity. Before you share or reuse a track from Jamendo, be sure to check out the licence at the bottom of the page.
Bandcamp is a site used by many musicians to share and sell their music. The great thing about Bandcamp is that it often gives you the option of paying the musician. Here’s a link to artists tagged Creative Commons. You’ll be able to tell which licence each artist uses by the small symbols at the bottom of the page.
Soundcloud hosts audio from all over the world, including music and radio shows. To find Creative Commons content, enter your search term and click through to your results. Look to the left of your screen, and you should see a few different filters. Click on the category ‘sounds’ — as opposed to ‘people’ or ‘groups’ — and then click on the ‘licence’ button, which will let you filter your results according to a Creative Commons licence.
If you’re looking for music that’s already in the public domain, The Internet Archive is the place to go. They have all kinds of fabulous out of copyright recordings.
ccMixter hosts all kinds of remixed music made available under a Creative Commons licence. The site encourages you to listen, remix and share its music. They have also developed a tool called ‘dig.ccMixter‘, which allows you to filter for music for your podcast, film and commercial projects.
For the last two years, the National Library of New Zealand has released its own Creative Commons mixtapes, pieced together from legal deposits to their digital music collection. You can check out the latest mix-tape, and also peruse a master-list of CC-licensed albums. While you’re in the mood for mix-tapes, you can also check out our own, released earlier in the year.