Home Vocal Removal Tips How to Use Public Domain Music for Free Creative Projects in 2023

How to Use Public Domain Music for Free Creative Projects in 2023

In this article, we will show you some information about Public domain music.
EvelynLast Updated: February 24, 2024
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Are you a music lover or a music creator? Do you enjoy listening to different genres, styles, and moods of music? Music is a universal language that has the power to enhance the emotional impact of creative projects, whether it’s a film, a podcast, a presentation, or a YouTube video.

But how does music become public domain? And why should you care about using public domain music? In this article, we will delve into these issues and more.

Let’s enjoy these popular public domain songs at first.

What Is Public Domain Music?

Public domain music refers to musical compositions and recordings that are not protected by copyright, which means they are free for anyone to use, adapt, and share without seeking permission from the original creator or infringing on legal restrictions.

Generally speaking, it occurs in the following three situations.

  • Copyright Term Expires

Most commonly, copyright protection lasts for the life of the creator plus an additional 50 to 70 years after their death, depending on the country and the era in which the work was created. After this period, the work usually becomes public domain.

  • Works Created Before Copyright Laws

For works created before copyright laws were established, they may have automatically entered the public domain upon creation because copyright didn’t exist at the time.

  • Explicit Dedication

In some cases, the creator or copyright holder may explicitly dedicate the work to the public domain, relinquishing all rights and allowing unrestricted use.

Why Should You Use Public Domain Music?

Public domain music offers a wealth of advantages that make it an appealing choice for various creative, educational, and cultural projects. Here are some compelling reasons why you should consider using free public domain music.

  • Legal Freedom

It’s free from copyright restrictions. This means you can use it without worrying about licensing fees, permissions, or potential legal issues.

  • Cost-Efficiency

Instead of paying for licenses or royalties associated with copyrighted music, you can access high-quality compositions and recordings for free.

  • Diverse Selection

Public domain music spans various genres, styles, and historical periods. You can find classical symphonies, folk songs, traditional tunes, jazz, blues, rock, K-pop, and much more.

  • Historical and Cultural Significance

By using this music, you can connect your project to a rich cultural and artistic heritage.

  • Educational Value

Public domain classical music is a valuable resource for educators and students. It allows for the study and performance of classical compositions, offering insights into musical techniques and historical contexts.

Where Can You Find Public Domain Music?

Fortunately, there are numerous sources where you can find public domain music. Here are some of the most reliable and accessible places to uncover these musical gems.

Method 1: Best Free Public Domain Music Websites

If you are looking for some free music to use in your projects, you might want to check out these 5 best free public domain music websites.

  • Musopen

This website provides public domain classical music downloads and sheet music. You can browse by composer, instrument, period, mood, length, license, and more.

  • Open Music Archive

This website aims to digitize out-of-copyright sound recordings from various genres and eras. You can browse by tags or search by keywords.

Open Music Archive
Open Music Archive
  • Freesound

This website hosts a large collection of sound effects and samples that are either in the public domain or under Creative Commons licenses. You can search by keywords or filters.

  • IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project)

IMSLP is a go-to destination for classical music enthusiasts. It provides an extensive collection of public domain sheet music, making it an invaluable resource for musicians, educators, and performers. You can find scores for orchestral, chamber, and solo compositions.

International Music Score Library Project
International Music Score Library Project
  • Wikimedia Commons

It’s a vast repository of media files, including a substantial collection of public domain music. It features recordings, sheet music, and audio files from a variety of genres and historical periods. You can do a music search using a composer, genre, or instrument.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Method 2: Creative Commons Resources

Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. So we will introduce 2 websites where you can find Creative Commons Resources for your projects.

  • SoundCloud

While not exclusively in the public domain, SoundCloud hosts a vast collection of music under Creative Commons licenses, many of which grant permission for reuse and modification.

  • Jamendo

A platform dedicated to Creative Commons-licensed music, including tracks that can be used for free in your projects.


Method 3: Local and University Libraries

Many local libraries and universities have digitized historical music collections, making them accessible online. These collections may include regionally or culturally significant public domain music.

Method 4: Museums and Cultural Institutions

Museums and cultural institutions often digitize and make available public domain music as part of their preservation efforts. These collections may include music with historical or cultural significance.

Method 5: Government Archives

Some government websites, particularly those focused on culture and heritage, offer access to public domain music as part of their cultural preservation initiatives.

Method 6: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Educational institutions and organizations contribute to OER platforms that host public domain educational materials, including music resources for teachers and students.

Method 7: Sheet Music Websites

Websites specializing in sheet music often include a section for public domain music, making it easier to find and download musical scores for various instruments.

How Can You Use Public Domain Music in Your Creative Projects?

Here are several ways to effectively incorporate public domain music into your creative endeavors.

Film and Video Projects

  • Soundtracks

Enhance the mood and atmosphere of your films or videos by incorporating public domain music as background music. Use classical compositions, folk tunes, or period-specific music to create an immersive experience.

  • Documentaries

Public domain music can be especially valuable in historical or educational documentaries. It can underscore important moments or evoke specific emotions in your audience.

  • YouTube and Online Content

Use public domain music as background music in YouTube videos, podcasts, or online presentations. This adds a professional touch to your content without the legal concerns associated with copyrighted music.

Podcasts and Radio Shows

  • Intro and Outro Music

Start and end your podcasts or radio shows with public domain music that sets the tone for your content. Choose music that complements your theme and engages your audience.

Presentations and Slideshows

  • Background Music

When creating presentations or slideshows for educational or business purposes, consider adding background music from the public domain. This can make your content more engaging and memorable.

Live Performances

  • Concerts and Recitals

Musicians can incorporate public domain compositions into their live performances. Classical musicians, for example, can include pieces by composers like Beethoven or Mozart without worrying about copyright issues.

Educational Materials

  • Teaching and Learning

Public domain music is a valuable resource for educators. Teachers can use it to create educational materials, such as lesson plans and audiovisual presentations, to enhance their students’ understanding of music history and theory.

Creative Writing

  • Writing Soundtracks

Writers can use public domain music to set the mood while working on their novels, short stories, or poetry. Listening to period-specific music can help immerse you in a particular historical context.

Cultural and Artistic Projects

  • Art Installations

Public domain music can be incorporated into art installations or gallery exhibitions to create a multi-sensory experience.

  • Cultural Celebrations

Public domain folk songs and traditional music can add authenticity to cultural festivals and events.

Bonus Tip: Best Free AI Cover Song Generator FineShare Singify

Do you want to have some fun with your favorite songs and voices? Try FineShare Singify. It’s a free AI song cover generator that lets you transform any song into 100+ different high-quality singing voices in just one click.

You can create cover songs with the voices of popular singers like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Adele, and many more. You can choose from the different styles and phases, such as country, pop, or folk. You can also create cover songs with the voices of characters from movies, TV shows, cartoons, or video games, including Darth Vader, Homer Simpson, Mickey Mouse, or Mario.

FineShare Singify
FineShare Singify


Public domain music serves as a bridge to the artistic achievements of the past, a conduit to our shared heritage. It embodies creativity’s essence, transcending the confines of copyright and reminding us that music’s beauty knows no boundaries.

Whether we are immersed in the resplendent symphonies of centuries past or rekindling our love for folk traditions, public domain music invites us to celebrate the timeless power of human expression. It’s a gift to the world. Use it wisely and creatively!

This article is originally published on September 1, 2023, and updated on February 24, 2024


Evelyn enjoys writing and painting, she also likes listening to music.

HomeVocal Removal Tips How to Use Public Domain Music for Free Creative Projects in 2023

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