The free music archives

 It is both music and politico-artistic insurgency.  The free music archives, or FMA, is one of the worthiest places for music on the internet. The FMA is an open-source, independent, democratic music-sharing platform; it functions by reciprocity between artists and music lovers, creating and fostering solidarity around a music commons --- a place for the principled and fair sharing of music --- in the age of the internet. Essentially, it is a library of free music, by the grace of artists who believe that "allowing a degree of free cultural access is beneficial not only to their own pursuits, but to our society as a whole."

That said, the FMA is not a free for all, read the rules, and do not expect to use the music -- beyond personal consumption -- without checking in with the artist and providing accreditation. But seriously, even if only for personal consumption: support the artists you love!

  • Users can “tip” an artist if they like what they hear, sending a donation directly to the artists’ PayPal account. 
  • Artist, album and song profiles may contain links to buy the full album from the artist and/or label.
  • Artist profiles can include tour dates, "encouraging users to step away from the glowing computer screen and see some real live music."

The music on the FMA is curated by 109 different organizations including radio stations, net-labels, venues, artist collectives, museums, and music festivals. All of this operates, unsurprisingly, under the guardianship of the beloved radio station out of Jersey City, WFMU, and uses the Creative Commons as a model. The FMA intends to provide free access to new music to the general public, just as radio has done for over 100 years; and yes, they rely entirely on public support, so if you love them, give them your money

How to use the FMA? Here are three places to start.

  1. You can listen to playlists, or the favorites, of curators, DJs, and other users, including me. If you don't know her already, Liz Berg is amazing. 
  2. You can listen to the most popular songs of this week, this month, or all time.
  3. You can also select a genre and listen to the either the newest songs posted, or, my favorite, the "most interesting" songs. "International" and "Old-Time/Historic" contain gem after rarified gem, but there are 15 genres encompassing everything from Pop to Spoken Word, and also a ton of ambient sound-track work, a goldmine for videographers and filmmakers.