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 rightsholders 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 tourdates, 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. To read more about how to get involved as an Artist, Editor, or Curator, please see the Help page. To request additional member privilidges, please see our Contact page.
Press & Further Reading
Billboard Magazine | The Wire Magazine | Spin Magazine | Rhizome Magazine | Portland Mercury | CNET | Paid Content | Pitchfork | The Daily Swarm | WFMU Station Manager & Free Music Archive Founder Ken Freedman’s keynote at OpenEd09 | New York Times | Ken Freedman at Berkman Center for Internet & Society May 2007 | FMA @ Megapolis Festival 2009 | Mashable | The Washington Post | O Estadão de S. Paulo, Brasil (full interview) (translated into Spanish by the Pirate Party of Argentina) | FMA @ all2gethernow/Berlin Music Week 2010 | FMA @ Latin Alternative Music Conference 2010 | FMA @ Pop Montreal 2010
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, Pranay Nadkarni, Graham Nalle, Irene Rible, Nayelli Rodriguez, Nat Roe, Caleb Townsend, Jen Vafidis, Alex Yockey
Initial funding for The Free Music Archive came from the New York State Music Fund, a program of Rockefeller Philanthrophy Advisors. Additional funding support has been provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and from charitable contributions made by FMA users.