In our lives, music is something essential, capable of evoking experiences, emotions and unforgettable moments. New technologies have been changing the way we can access music, but do you know how you can listen to and/or use music for free without infringing copyright? In this article we will take a brief look:

First of all, we must know that copyright serves to give legal protection to the creators of original works, in this case musical works. Thus, authors are granted exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, use or adapt their works. Therefore, the illegal downloading of their musical works is a copyright infringement that can be punished.

However, there are ways of accessing music that are fully copyright compliant, legal and, moreover, free of charge:

1. Royalty-free music platforms:

Nowadays, there are numerous platforms that provide access to royalty-free music, i.e. music that can be used without paying any royalties. However, it is worth reading the terms of use of the different platforms that allow you to listen to or even download music for free, as it is common that, in order to do so, you have to comply with and respect the rules established by the platform. We must bear in mind that, in reality, the only music that is free of copyright is that which falls within the cases of anonymity or unattributed popular creation. Examples of such websites are Jamendo and Free Music Archive, among many others.

2. Creative Commons licences

The alternative to traditional copyright is offered by “Creative Commons”, a for-profit organisation. With “Creative Commons” licences, artists can decide to release their musical works, allowing others to share, use and, in some cases, modify them, always respecting the rules and conditions set by the author. So, basically, these licences are a free legal tool that allows users (licensees) to use works protected by copyright without having to request permission from the author of the work. There are many websites where we can access this type of music, for example, in Free Music Archive, there are more than 14 thousand songs with “Creative commons” licenses that allow commercial use. Likewise, and to give another example, the SoundCloud website, well known for listening to independent music, also hosts many songs with “Creative Commons” licences.

3. Streaming with download options

As we all know, there are many platforms such as: Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and many more, which, upon payment of a subscription that allows access to all their functions, offer the option of downloading music that can be listened to even when the user does not have access to the internet.

4. Promotional downloads

Another option for free access to music is often offered by artists (singers or emerging groups), who allow their music to be downloaded completely free of charge in order to promote themselves to the public. The social networks of these artists or their official websites usually offer this information and the corresponding download links. Obviously, these are free and legal downloads, as it is the author himself who grants the permissions for downloading.

We must bear in mind that the aforementioned forms of access to music, whether for free listening or downloading, do not infringe the copyright of its creators, but we cannot overlook and fail to give due value to the effort, resources, enthusiasm and time invested by these authors in the creation of their music. Therefore, when we decide to buy a CD, a vinyl, when we purchase a musical work in paid digital format or even when we buy a ticket to attend our favourite artist’s concert, we are supporting him or her and, above all, encouraging them to continue producing the songs we enjoy so much.

In conclusion, it is perfectly possible to enjoy music legally and free of charge. However, we cannot overlook the rights of creators and artists, who deserve to receive proper credit and compensation for their work, even if they are willing to share their works in a disinterested way. Therefore, whenever possible, we should support artists by subscribing to paid streaming services or buying their music, even if there are legal and free ways to access their music.

Article written by Mario de Diego

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