Streaming services like iTunes, Spotify and Google Play Music are a brilliant way to find and enjoy new music if you have a reliable internet connection and no restrictions on data use, but sometimes you need tracks available for offline listening. That's why you need a great music downloader.
There are some excellent options around. If you want to download music quickly with minimal fuss, you'll be well served by a dedicated program designed for grabbing songs, converting them to a convenient format, and adding the appropriate metadata in one fell swoop.
Alternatively, if you prefer to download your music via torrent, the right client software will make the whole process faster and more straightforward. Whatever your preference, we've picked out the best free downloaders that will make updating your music library effortless.
Before you get started, note that you should only download music if you've purchased it (many artists now use torrent sites as a legitimate platform for selling their work), it's in the public domain, or you have permission from the copyright holder.
Even huge uncompressed audio files are no trouble when you use a torrent client to download music, and qBittorrent is the best
Torrent distribution is brilliant for sharing large files, which makes it the favored medium of audiophiles. High quality FLAC, uncompressed WAV or AIFF, and the new generation of studio quality master files can be huge, and there’s nothing more frustrating than a huge file that’s taking forever to download.
Before you can download a torrent, you'll need a client program, and qBittorrent is the best. This free client that downloads from multiple hosts simultaneously so you get your files as quickly as possible, and its interface is clear and accessible. If you prefer to torrent your tracks, qBittorrent is the best music downloader around.
A minimalist music downloader for grabbing songs from YouTube
Confusingly, Freemake YouTube to MP3 Boom is listed on its developer's website as 'YouTube to MP3 Converter' – probably for SEO reasons. That doesn't matter, though; whatever you call it, it's a very handy tool designed specifically for getting music from the web.
YouTube to MP3 Boom automatically downloads MP3s in the highest possible quality – 320Kbps if available – and you can use it as a YouTube search engine, enabling you to find music from the comfort of your desktop without having to open a new browser tab. Alternatively, you can paste a YouTube address into it to start a download.
There aren’t any fancy swarming features like you’ll find with torrent clients and it's limited to grabbing music from YouTube, but as a cheap and cheerful way to download audio from videos, Boom is hard to beat.
The software installer will prompt you to download the Opera web browser, but it's easy to uncheck this if you'd rather skip it.
Fast downloads and great sound quality, but be aware of the limits
If you still prefer to download music from YouTube, but your requirements are a little more complex, check out MP3Jam.
This free music downloader has multi-threaded file downloads, which means it can download from multiple sources simultaneously, and it can run multiple downloads at the same time too. MP3Jam tries to find the highest quality – up to 320Kbps – and there’s a useful hashtag search you can use to find music of particular genres. There’s a built-in music player too.
The only downside is that the free app is deliberately limited in the hope you’ll buy a one-day or lifetime subscription. If you don’t, you can only download five tracks every 25 minutes and you can’t download full albums.
A music downloader that searches all the biggest torrent sources
Where qBittorrent is one of the easiest torrent clients for new users, Vuze claims to be the most powerful. It's an all-singing, all dancing option for power users, with remote control via a desktop or web app (ideal for managing very large downloads when you're away from home), media device detection, and format conversion.
Those are all extremely useful tools, but the main draw here is metasearch, which takes your query and checks all the major torrent sites to find suitable results. If you’ve ever spent forever trying multiple sites for the tunes you want, you’ll see the appeal immediately.
Vuze is a powerful music downloader that's a great choice for all your media torrenting needs – not just music.
There are a couple of caveats to bear in mind, though – software this good rarely comes free, and Vuze is supported by ads and additional software bundled in the installer.
An old-school peer-to-peer client that searches multiple sources
Remember how peer-to-peer (P2P) networks changed the way people found music? They’re still doing their thing, and while the likes of Napster and LimeWire are long gone, you can still kick it old-school by making free P2P client FrostWire your new music downloader.
It connects to multiple torrent trackers and cloud-based download sites to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, and it includes a media player and music library manager to keep your tracks organized.
Frostwire feels like a modern take on traditional P2P apps, and is a really simple and effective way to grab new tunes
- Looking for a great MP3 player to put all of your music on? Check out our list of the best MP3 players.