Snapsound sound files screenshot

Oh. Snap. Soundsnap, that is — a community site with tens of thousands of free sound samples, ready to use in your project.

People can be annoying. I imagine some of you really don’t like people much, and I hear you. If you do like people, though, and whole communities of them, you may have noticed that countless websites are now marketed around the ability to interact with people and share stuff with them. Thankfully, some of these communities have actual, practical uses, like sharing free sound samples. is a new project that promises to be the “YouTube of sounds.” I assume this means sounds of a skateboarding pup will become wildly popular, “lonely girl” rebecca will turn out to be fictional, and the whole thing will get bought out by Google.

Okay, scratch that. The real point is that this library of 30,000 sounds and growing will provide another resource for finding samples. Creator Tasos Frantzolas is a sound designer and producer from Greece who says he wanted just such a service for himself. The angle here is “high-quality” sounds, categorized by use, with everything from music loops to sound effects. That contrasts with the more free-form efforts we’ve seen elsewhere.

Soundsnap does let you use the sounds freely in any project, with no cost to you, and it appears to have an early edge in quality sounds. However, it contrasts with projects like the Freesound Project (for sound samples) and ccMixter (for full-length, remixable tracks) in that the license is not Creative Commons. Uploaders “retain all ownership rights to submissions while granting SoundSnap a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable sublicense.”

Geotagged sounds at Freesound

The Freesound Project includes some features of its own, including remix trees of files collaboratively remixed by users, and geotagged samples, for when you want to feature South African frogs.

Someone with legal experience with Creative Commons might be able to comment on other advantages or disadvantages, but I could see the services coexisting. To the end user, the bottom line is they can share sounds they’ve worked on for use by others, while gaining access to new resources for free sounds. The major difference here may be the different tone of these sites, and distinct feature sets. Having a growing number of free sample sites could help the idea gain popularity.

The Freesound Project (A “collaborative database” of Creative Commons-licensed sounds)

ccMixter (A CC-licensed database of full songs and remixes)

There are also additional Creative Commons and public domain sound libraries, albeit without the community features of these other sites. Some examples from The Internet Archive:

Live Music Archive

Internet Audio Archive

Have a listen and let us know what you think.

  • Tim Thompson

    This is cool, and good to know about. CDM has become indispensable because of the way that you bring these things to our attention and put them in perspective. Thanks!

  • Thanks, Tim! We aim to please. πŸ™‚

  • octatone

    gah! you're enticing me to be lazy and not go out and sample my self.


    looks like a great resource!

  • I like and approve of Seedsound a lot. Two things hold it back, I think; first, you have to register to download, and second it has a weird url that nobody can remember!

  • Oops typo, I meant freesound of course, not seedsound!

  • Angstrom

    the freesound url has always been a gurl to me


  • yeah I like soundsnap. I do a lot of production that calls for sound effects and whilst I have a big library, there is always one or more sounds I need that I might not have.

    Your comparison to youtube is interesting in that I listened to a few effects on soundsnap and could have sworn they had been lifted off commercial libraries.

    I wonder how hard it will be for commercial libraries like hollywood edge to prove??!!

  • octatone

    well in the forums, the site creator mentions that there are in fact several well known Hollywood sound designers contributing to the library. so that may be why the quality is that good/you may be hearing things from commercial libraries.

  • They have promised they'll prevent copyright infringement on the site. That's always hard to do, but my sense is that YouTube was generally not policed at all. And you can contribute commercial-quality sound without pirating. πŸ˜‰ Reality is, composers and musicians build up massive sound libraries. Some of them do know what they're doing. So I do like these ideas, in theory, certainly.

  • Rat

    I've been using this for a while now..
    to get the occasional sound effect and wot-have-you.

    You can also specify the format, bit resolution and sample rate you want.

    There's a little bit of a disclaimer on the legal front though.. Although in theory they remove reference to any sounds which are copyrighted.

  • Thanks for the link… on the copyright front – was wondering why CDM itself doesn't take advantage of Creative Commons for its own posts?

  • Jean, I'm a big believer in CC for certain content. In terms of the text on CDM, though, we want to be able to retain control on the text and distribution. Fair use covers any reasonable excerpting of the stories. In this case, we actually have to try to counter what usually happens, which is people scraping RSS in sometimes-nasty ways. I can see releasing certain content under CC. The first measure would be that it would be useful as such, which I think most posts probably aren't …

    As for why my Flickr stuff isn't CC; um, there I just need to take the time and set up the license, which I do intend to do. Thanks for the reminder. πŸ˜‰

  • Well bloggers seem to recycle lots of other peoples content / links all the time anyway…. so I find the CC licences make sense… and if anything, when included on your site, add visibility to the *idea* that sampling & re-use is legitimate and worthwhile …

    I guess I like the creative commons idea – that "You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." – which I thought would cover your needs anyway? Mostly I imagine you want to stop commercial re-use of your work, which various creative commons licenses exist specifically to prevent…

    Not a biggie – and I only mentioned in the first place, because you were critiquing a sound site for not having a creative commons license, which seemed to make the copyright symbol at the bottom of the post stand out all the more….

  • No, certainly, I can see that there's reason to mention that.

    I'm not criticizing the site for lacking a CC license, though; merely observing the difference. As I said in the post, my sense is the end user is going to find that licenses on both this site and the CC sites give them the freedom they need. Other functionality and content are likely more significant differences.

    Mostly what we want to stop is the wholesale reuse of what's on CDM. We actually do want the right to maintain readership on this site. The biggest problem has been people scraping RSS feeds and putting the whole thing somewhere else automatically. They may not care about CC versus Copyright, but at the same time, I actually really dislike tools like ReBlog. I'd rather read something original by someone with a link and an excerpt that just a cut-and-paste version of lots of other sites.

    Beyond that, I don't think we need a CC license for the ways in which people already excerpt and link to our content, and people certainly haven't been shy about doing all the things that we do appreciate.

    I think sampling and re-use are most legitimate when you pick and choose the stuff that makes the most sense and label it explicitly.

    As an example, I think I will go back and turn on CC license for our Flickr stream, which we intend to use more. I'm not sure if any of the video sites do the same. That's a case where CC really does make sense … you have a link via the image back to the photographer's stream (as per Flickr's rules of content), you very often make connections in the Flickr community, you are required by both Flickr and CC to give credit, and there are very often cases where sampling an image is something you need to do and could not do easily with copyrighted content.

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  • I joined soundsnap and uploaded a couple of weird sounds to see how it goes. One thing I wish it had was a way to upload wavs as a collection, for multi-sampled instruments.

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  • noobie

    How do you download from it?

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