Listening to music free of charge without having files in storage is something we often take for granted. We readily accept it as a byproduct of rapid technological advancements not thinking twice or remembering this was hardly possible two decades ago. But whether you appreciate the achievements or not, there’s no denying streaming is on the upswing. More importantly, audio content has an increasingly larger piece of the pie, especially songs, music effects, and podcasts. Now that you have another reason to jump on the bandwagon, let’s see how to listen to free music online without downloading.
1. Find a free online radio station
We’ll start with something you should be familiar with – radio. It entered commercial use around 1900 and has been the primary way of broadcasting audio until television changed the world. For many reasons, it never fully went away. It merely changed form, and instead of old-fashioned radio wave receivers, you can listen to free radio music online without downloading. Since we’re fans of this method too, we went a step further and composed a list of top free radio station websites. What’s more, our rundown of the free online radio stations has value; they all have a website that allows you to tune in to the live broadcast. Since the process is digital, the type of modulation in the name, FM or AM, plays no part for you.
2. Check websites that can play free music
Although they bear resemblance to radios in concept, websites that can play music for free aren’t limited to one organization curating content. Also, they aren’t necessarily sorted by geographic area or music genre. Instead, users (or someone on their behalf) can create music and put it up for anyone to stream. Others can then find it based on genre, duration, feeling, how energetic it is, and whether it has vocals or not. With that said, there are 4 common places to look:
1. Creative Commons music websites
You’re in a great position because you don’t plan on downloading music, let alone using it for personal or commercial projects. Therefore, just about any type of website that hosts audio files that fall under the Creative Commons license works. To clarify, it doesn’t matter if the music is marked as CC0, BY, SA, CC-NC, NC-SA, ND, or BY-NC-ND because you can legally play it to your heart’s content. Although we aren’t affiliated, notable examples include Free Music Archive, ccMixter, and Freesound.
2. Passion projects and indie musicians
Another common way to listen to free music online, shirking the need to download or pay, is to seek it actively. By this, we mean looking for portfolios of indie and up-and-coming musicians. You can also look for communal websites where people post music they made out of a passion. Even if it isn’t fully free, the creators, in many cases, only charge for downloading. Therefore, you can replay the music however many times you like.
3. Public domain
Music that falls under the public domain is, as the name suggests, owned by the public and thus comes with no strings attached to its use. There are 2 common reasons for that:
- The creator relinquished all ownership upon the music’s release.
- The copyright expired, which usually happens 70 years after the copyright owner’s death.
4. Check stock video content websites
You heard that right. The websites that host free stock footage for content creators frequently have a section dedicated to music. Sure, a portion will be dedicated to audio effects without vocals for obvious reasons. However, music, with or without singing, won’t be far behind, as it unquestionably enhances the visuals.
3. Look for free music streaming services
We know you might be confused. Aren’t free music streaming services synonymous with websites that play music for free? Technically, yes – all major audio streaming services have a website. However, there’s a clear distinction. This type of website can have (but usually doesn’t) Creative Commons or royalty-free audio. Instead, the music is distributed by a large media company through deals with creators and recording companies. Moreover, the bulk of the features is reserved for their software, usually on smart devices. The music typically remains free for the following reasons:
- They place ads in-between the songs to recoup the operating costs
- They permit access to a portion of their library in hopes of getting you on the hook
- Streaming services offer access to the library for a time (free trial) hoping you’ll sign up afterward
- They allow creators to upload their music, promote it, and sign deals with those that blow up
4. Browse video streaming websites
We mention videos again, but this time, they are part of services you already used to play music for free e.g., YouTube or Vimeo. But did you know YouTube Music exists as well? While it’s technically standalone, audios are still accessible from the YouTube search. These “videos” only show a still image during playback, commonly the album cover. You can take it a step further and install browser extensions that stop the video stream completely, leaving you with an audio-only experience.
5. Join a group-chatting platform with bots
Group-chatting platforms such as Discord, TeamSpeak, or Mumble support bots that perform pre-programmed tasks. Well, one of those tasks is playing music from a source, which can be any of the methods above. This can be a good way to either build a community around the music you like or join an existing one. People oftentimes leave links to public groups or invitation links to private ones on social media. Therefore, a well-phrased search can lead you straight to them.
6. Stream it from a person (even yourself)
Got a music aficionado or an audiophile in your friend group? Or, perhaps, a spare storage drive filled with songs you stopped playing when the Internet came along? In all cases, using cloud storage services to store your data can facilitate a massive free online library with (usually) 3 GB to 20 GB of space. That way, you can not only listen to free music online without downloading, but also share it with others, and re-download it if you ever need to.