How to Find the Best Free Audio


Neon Songs

Audio is a more obscure patch of open content than pictures, mostly because a smaller audience is looking for it. Musicians and videographers need audio clips to incorporate into their work, the rest of us aren’t generally looking for clips to use and share.

We’ll start with general information on how to search for and use audio, and then review a few of the better websites for finding open content audio.

 General Tips

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, this is going to take a while. You can’t just look at a dozen thumbnails and decide if any of them fit. You’ve got to load (or download) and play each song for at least a few seconds (and maybe much more) in order to find the perfect song, clip, or sound-byte.

Start a library. You’re investing a lot of time in this, don’t waste a single good song! If you find a song that you like but doesn’t fit for your current project, save a link to it or download it into a library. One day you may be looking for that dark, brooding masterpiece that didn’t fit in with your K-pop extravaganza.  It’ll be nice to have it on hand.

Keep Good Records! If you’re downloading a lot of songs be sure to keep records of the artist and type of license each song is published under. It would be such a shame to use a song incorrectly, even if it was an honest mistake.

Dig ccMixter

This is a great tool for finding music of all kinds.  After you’ve entered a search term, your options will load on a new page, and under the search bar will be a little link “Advanced Dig.” This opens up a variety of options to search by such as genre and instruments.



Another large collection of music published under creative commons licenses.  The Jamendo search doesn’t allow for a lot of complexity or quality control, but they have an extensive list of tags, a top 100 list, and a few other features that make up for it.

Community Audio

A decent sized collection that you can search using multiple tags, for instance: “upbeat” and “instrumental” gets 18 choices that are both upbeat and instrumental.


This archive has a ton of music, and even allows you to order songs based on how “interesting” (“good”) they are.  Although they’re all free to download and listen to personally, you have to go to an individual links page to see the license it is published under.  This extra step, plus a lack of nuanced search criteria, makes the site less ideal for finding useful content.


This is a free archive of mostly classical music, it would seem, arranged by composer, performer, instrument, period, and form. They are also a repository of sheet music, which make them a more appropriate source for trained musicians and music enthusiasts in addition to individuals looking for great tunes.



More innovative record label than open content search engine, Opsound has a large collection, and a loooong list of tags to choose from, for high quality open content audio.

See the rest of our Free Media Guide for more info on how to license, find, and make the best open content!

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Written by Michael Jones
Michael JonesHow to Find the Best Free Audio