Free Music Archive (FMA), founded in 2009 by radio station WFMU, offers free access to open licensed, original music. Historically, radio has always offered the public free access to new music. So with the help of curators, netlabels and thousands of independent musicians around the world FMA became a continuation of that purpose. Tens of millions of visitors every month download music for personal use and many share and remix music from FMA in videos, podcasts, films, games, apps and even school projects.
Every MP3 you discover on 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. 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.
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 platform 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, 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 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. FMA is also experimenting with "web monetization" tools.
While 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.
In September 2019, Free Music Archive was acquired by Tribe of Noise, a music platform and licensing company with many common features, facilitating a community of more than 34,000 independent artists across 190+ countries. Both FMA and Tribe of Noise support free to access, Creative Commons licensed, music and offer independent creators a variety of (revenue) opportunities.
Free Music Archive and Tribe of Noise:
• Grant for the Web announces $250,000 in funding to early grantees on grantfortheweb.org
• Free Music Archive: A Grant for the Web Awardee on grantfortheweb.org
• Inside FMA - Chapter 1 on coil.com
• Inside FMA - Chapter 2 on coil.com
Free Music Archive Early Days
• WFMU’s Free Music Archive Thinks Outside the blog on blogfiles.wfmu.org
• Bites, Video Data Bank, Birth of an Artform on blogfiles.wfmu.org
• New Website Offers 5,000 Free Downloads That Don’t Suck! on spin.com
• Interview with Jason Sigal of the Free Music Archive on rhizome.org
• Indie Radio Station Launches Free Music Site on gigaom.com
• WFMU Launches the Free Music Archive on pitchfork.com
• WFMU Station Manager & Free Music Archive Founder Ken Freedman's keynote at OpenEd09 on ustream.tv
• Free Music Monday: 10 Songs From Around the Web on mashable.com
• Can We Replace the “Happy Birthday” Song? on slate.com
• The Quest for a Copyright-Free Happy Birthday on laughingsquid.com
• Write the Next ‘Happy Birthday!’ WFMU’s Free Music Archive’s Challenge to Songwriters on sonicscoop.com
• It's Time For A New, Copyright-Free Happy Birthday Song, So Help Write One on techdirt.com
• Happy Birthday Alternatives in Film & Television on worldsbestever.com
• Free Music Archive Launches Public Domain Music Contest on creativecommons.com
Further readings and publications:
• Where to Find Free (and Legal to Use) Images & Media Online on techsoup.org
• Digital Underground: Who Will Make Sure The Internet's Vast Musical Archive Doesn't Disappear? on npr.org
• How to find free music online: We reveal our 5 favorite sources for scoring free tunes on techhive.com
• Here Are the 36 Best Noise Tracks of 2015 on villagevoice.com
• Can You Add Free Music to Your iTunes Library? on en.softonic.com
• What do we mean when we talk about open music? on opensource.com
• Free Music Archive / World Listening Day field recording mix on binauraldiaries.co.uk
• Free Music Archive Revista on cgi.br
• Free Sound Effects & Music to Super-Charge your Next Project on 3dmybusiness.com
• How FMA Uses an Open-Source Model to Showcase Artists and Curate Songs on HostingAdvice.com
• Free Music Archive Provides Access to Hundreds of Thousands of High-Quality Downloads on badcredit.org
• 8 Free Resources to Soundtrack Your Social Video Without Getting Sued on blog.hootsuite.com
• Get New Music: Burn CD’s Off the Internet For Free on blog.real.com
CREDITS FMA 2009
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.