The future sustainability of Freesound

Dear Freesound community,

We would like to give you an update about the current situation of Freesound funding and to get your feedback about some of our future plans regarding its sustainability. Be prepared for a rather long read ūüėČ

As most of you will know, Freesound was started in 2005 at the Music Technology Group (MTG) of Universitat Pompeu Fabra. The initial aim of the project was to create an open database of sounds that could also be used for scientific research. However Freesound became bigger and bigger and turned into a wide and active community of users which grew well beyond any initial goals. Freesound currently hosts more than 4400 hours of audio and serves around 50000 sounds per day. For more statistics, have a look at this blog post.

As you can imagine, the cost of maintaining Freesound has been increasing as the site has grown, and it is not an easy task to find resources (both human and machine) to maintain and keep improving Freesound. Freesound has always been developed and maintained by researchers at the MTG and, as hard as it might seem to believe, Freesound has never had a single person fully dedicated to it (with very few exceptions). This is because Freesound‚Äôs current sustainability model is based on maintaining and improving Freesound as a ‚Äúside-effect‚ÄĚ of other research projects.

Our current sustainability model only allows us to maintain Freesound and does not allow us to spend time working on adding new features or improving existing ones. To change that, we need to rethink the current sustainability model and get to a point where Freesound can generate enough to be partially sustained by itself. This means to generate enough regular income so that we can dedicate more resources to Freesound and make it a better place both for its user community and the research community.

Because of the nature of Freesound and the philosophy of openness, sharing and reuse that we promote, we think that the sustainability model that best fits our case is one based on user donations (similarly to Wikipedia). Even though Freesound has been accepting user donations since the beginning, it is something we have never promoted. Currently, we are *only* raising around 2000‚ā¨ per year in user donations, but we think we could raise much more. Considering the huge amount of users that regularly download content from Freesound, we estimate that with a very small yearly contribution from some of these users, we can collect enough to keep Freesound in good shape. For the sake of total transparency let us mention that, ideally, we want to raise enough to be able to maintain a couple of people dedicated full-time to do research and development with Freesound. We also want to be able to cover some of the expenses related to hosting and server maintenance. We estimate that this could be covered if we raise a minimum of 100000‚ā¨ a year. This means that we need to increase current donations by a factor of 50. Please note that we are not thinking of imposing any yearly fee for the use of Freesound. What we are suggesting is that if we reach a significant number of donors, donations as small as 10‚ā¨ a year would be enough to reach our goal.

In order to increase donations we are planning to start a campaign to actively promote them. We will do that by using banners and pop-ups, and occasionally sending some emails. Our main target is to reach those users who regularly download content and try not to impact users who are already contributing to Freesound by uploading sounds, by writing in forums or being part of the core community. We will also publish a regular report on how much money we raised and how we spend it.

Before making further steps with the donations campaign we wanted to share this with you and get your feedback. Feel free to tell us your thoughts in this forum thread that we set up for this occasion.

the Freesound team,

Alastair, Andrés, Bram, Frederic, Sonia, Xavier

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Results of the Freesound Survey 2017

Dear Freesounders,

As promised, here are some plots and charts and insights we got after analysing the more than 1,300 survey responses that you filled in¬†some weeks ago. Warning:¬†you’ll see some box plots in this post which might look strange. These are not really hard to interpret. In general, the more concentrated¬†the “box”¬†is¬†in the top scores, the better.

Let’s start with your answers to the question “I’d describe myself as…”:

I’d describe myself as a…

NOTE: this question (and some others below) multiple responses where accepted per participant. The percentage shown in the figure is calculated over total number of participants in the survey (therefore the sum of all bars > 100%). 

Apparently, Freesound user profiles are quite heterogeneous :). A similar observation can be made looking at your responses about what do you use the sounds you download for:

The Freesound sounds I download, I use them…

And, again, we also observe significant heterogeneity in the kinds of sounds you’re interested in finding:

In particular, I’m interested in finding the following kinds of sounds:

The previous chart can be compared with the¬†termcloud that we showed in our previous 2016 in numbers blog post, it seems to be quite well aligned, doesn’t¬†it?

Even though you are interested in¬†a wide variety of different sounds, the survey responses tell us that, when searching in Freesound, users typically end up finding what they’re¬†looking for (or at least some other useful sounds). Also,¬†the quality of uploaded sounds is also generally well valued.

When I search in Freesound…

And how often do you use Freesound? Well, apparently most of you are quite regular users and use Freesound at least a couple of times a month…

I normally use Freesound…

…but the majority of users only download sounds, do not upload:

I ¬†use Freesound…

This is nothing new. In fact, we know from our data that less than 1% of users do upload sounds (way less that what the survey suggests). This kind of balance between uploading/downloading (i.e. producing/consuming) is quite normal in the web.

For the questions regarding Creative Commons licenses, it seems that Freesound users are generally aware of Creative Commons licenses and consider them to be important (including downloaders). Also, there seems to be a tendency of users who would like to be able to use more CC licenses than those currently offered (CC0, CC-BY, and CC-BY-NC), but this does not seem to be a very generalized or strong claim.

About Freesound and Creative Commons licenses

Finally, lets finish this post with a chart with¬†the things you like the most about Freesound…

What are the things you like the most about Freesound?

Apparently you like lots of things about Freesound :), most prominently that fact that Freesound is free to use (as long as their sounds when license requirements are met), but also very importantly you value its philosophy and community of users.

Again, thanks for your participation in the survey, this certainly gives us insights to continue working in the future!


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Freesound Survey 2017 [closed]

EDIT 18/4/2017: Thank you all for participating in the survey! After having collected more than 1,300 responses we decided to close the survey form. We’ll analyse the collected data now and get back to you with some¬†conclusions in the coming weeks ūüôā


Dear Freesounders,

Some of you will remember that in 2012 we conducted a survey in the Freesound forums with the aim of getting a better understanding of what are your motivations for using Freesound, what are the uses you give to it and, in general, know more about the nature of Freesound itself (you can see the posts here: Some of the outputs of this survey were published in this research paper: Now five years have passed and we decided to run a new survey to get an updated status of the Freesound community.

So please participate in the survey and help us improve Freesound ūüôā
It should not take you more than 5 minutes. After we’ve collected all the data we will make it (anonymously) public for everyone.

Access the survey by clicking here

If you want to share or discuss anything related with the survey with the rest of the community you can do it in this forum thread.

Thanks for your participation!


the Freesound team

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Slowdowns [fixed]

Dear Freesounders,

We are experiencing problems with Freesound servers and as a result Freesound is being quite slow.¬†We are working on it and we’ll try to find a solution as soon as possible, we’ll let you know.

Thanks for your understanding!

EDIT: FYI, during the last weeks we made a number of improvements which significantly reduced the number of slowdowns, making them almost inappreciable most of the time. Yesterday (15th March 2017), we were finally able to deploy a new set of changes which should make the slowdowns completely disappear and make Freesound faster.



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2016 in numbers

Dear Freesounders,

We collected some statistics from last year’s usage of Freesound that we would like to share with you.¬†We’re sure you’ll find this insanely interesting ūüôā¬†Let’s start with the most obvious one: the number of¬†new sounds uploaded during 2016…

35,625 new sounds!

which corresponds to…

588 hours of audio!

Impressive isn’t it?¬†This was achieved at a rate of approximately 100 sounds uploaded every day.¬†As shown in the plot below, most of the sounds uploaded during 2016 were¬†released under the¬†Creative Commons 0¬†and¬†Creative Commons Attribution, licenses:

Licenses of uploaded sounds (2016)


All in all, the number of sounds hosted in Freesound is growing at a rate higher than linear, which means that it will take less time to grow from 300k to 400k than it took from 200k to 300k sounds. This is shown in the figure below, which plots the evolution of the total number of sounds since the starting days of Freesound:

Evolution of number of uploaded soundsIn total Freesound¬†now hosts more than 327k sounds, corresponding to more than 4400 hours of audio content.¬†Can you guess when we’ll reach 400k? ūüôā¬†But what about the¬†kinds of sounds which are being uploaded? Well, this is somewhat difficult to answer, but to have an idea you can look at the tagcloud below, built using only sounds from 2016:

Tag cloud (sounds form 2016)

  • NOTE: To avoid bias in the tagcloud, we have removed tags from a significant number of sounds that were¬†uploaded by us (the Music Technology Group) as part of our¬†Good-sounds project (a¬†~5000k single note sound collection).

The most used tag is field-recording, which means that the most common type of uploaded sounds are¬†probably field-recordings, did you expect that? We can see anyway that other tags like loop, voice and effect¬†are also pretty much used, which shows how heterogeneous is the content uploaded to Freesound. Did you ever tried playing with the random sound browsing mode? Give it a try, it’s a good fun ūüėČ

This is the ranking of top sound uploaders for 2016:

Username # sounds
cabled_mess 469
newagesoup 389
GrowingUp 325
Terry93D 287
YleArkisto 269
x75 269
mishicu 269
klankbeeld 267
ProjectsU012 259
mickyman5000 254
Reitanna 252
eardeer 248
jalastram 246
AcousticMemory 233
InspectorJ 231
Kalou 202
Dneproman 200
shnur_ 150
RutgerMuller 148
  • NOTE: Similarly as above, we removed our Music Technology Group user from this list which would obviously take the first position with¬†the¬†~5000k single-note sound collection.

Thank you to all of the above uploaders, and also to everyone else who uploaded a sound in 2016 who doesn’t appear on the list.

And now what about some numbers about the consumption of Freesound¬†content?¬†Let’s ¬†continue with another obvious statistic:¬†the number of sound downloads (including packs) during 2016…


Yes, 16 million downloads in a single year! At a rate of 50k downloads per day, Freesound has accumulated a total of 94M downloads since launch(!). In fact, as the figure below shows, the number of sound downloads is growing every year:

Number of downloads (2014-2016)

These downloads happen after¬†users find relevant sounds when they’re searching. So the next obvious question is: what are people searching for? Again this might be hard to answer, but below you can see a “termcloud” of the most common search terms¬†of 2016:

Cloud of search terms (2016)

So yeah, wind, explosion, etc… By the way, this happens at a rate of 150k¬†queries every day! If you want to maximise the number of downloads of your sounds, you now know what you have to do ūüėČ

You’ll also like¬†to know that during this¬†year 2016 you’ve exchanged more than 25k ¬†messages, added 1.2M sound ratings, written 2500 forum posts and more than 44k sound comments!¬†All in all this shows how¬†active and vibrant the Freesound community is. We would sincerely want to thank everyone that participates in¬†the community by rating and commenting sounds, writing in the forums and also searching and downloading content.¬†Let us also take this opportunity to¬†very specially thank all ¬†Freesound uploaders, more than¬†16k users have contributed at least one sound, and¬†the Freesound moderators team, who¬†do an incredible job¬†on their free time¬†to make Freesound possible and have indeed listened to all of it ūüôā

So that’s it, keep on Freesounding and make these stats even more awesome next year!


frederic (on behalf of the Freesound team)

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Christmas Special: VSCO 2 Community Edition

Dear Freesounders,

We’re happy to announce that he have just finished uploading the Versilian Studios Chamber Orchestra 2 Community Edition¬†(VSCO 2 CE) sound library. That is ~3000 instrument samples¬†including a wide variety of orchestral instruments and organised in ~70 packs, all released with CC0 license!

Quoting authors description, “VSCO 2 CE is an open-source, open-ended subset of the main VSCO 2 branch designed for young composers, hobbyist sample library designers, and students around the world to create better sounding music for free, and learn more about the process of sample library development“.

All sounds are tagged with instrument names, instrument family, note names, midi note numbers and, when available, different velocity layers and articulations. Check them out at

Thanks to Sam Gossner for having created such an amazing open sound library and offered it for uploading in Freesound!



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A couple of new features

Dear all,

We just deployed a couple of new useful features that we want you to know about:

  • Short share sound urls: if you go to a sound page (e.g.¬†this one by kirbydx) and look at the share section in the sidebar you’ll see a new ‘share url’ property with a link that points to that¬†page with the form<sound_id>. The link does not include the username so it is shorter¬†than the usual url (<username>/sounds/<sound_id>)¬†and might be useful¬†for sharing when url length is a concern ūüėČ
  • Inappropriate content warning: as¬†some of you will know sounds can be flagged (via sound page)¬†and we admins get notified with the reasons you give¬†(e.g. sound is illegal or offensive). Based on these flags, Freesound will now display a warning for the sounds which are considered inappropriate. The warning can be dismissed with a single click and there is an option in your settings page to completely¬†disable them.

We hope you find these new features useful!



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Maintenance downtime, September 13th 10 a.m. CEST [done]

Dear Freesounders,

Tomorrow September 13 at 10 a.m. CEST Freesound will be down for approximately two and a half hours while we perform some maintenance on our servers.  We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.

keep on Freesounding ūüôā

edit: all servers have been updated and we’re back to normality (September 13th 12 a.m.)

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We need your help: the Audio Commons survey

Dear Freesounders,

As part of the Audio Commons Initiative (that we introduced in a previous post), we’re rolling out a survey to gain insights into how creative users interact or wish to be able to interact with Creative Commons (CC) audio content. We’d like to get feedback from sound designers, musicians, sound engineers, game audio developers and, in general, from anyone working with CC audio content.

You can participate by accessing this URL:
You can also comment about it in this forum thread

The objective of the Audio Commons initiative is to promote and facilitate the reuse of CC audio content in production environments. This includes the development of new technologies for annotating and organising sound samples and music pieces, the development of technologies to support easy licensing procedures of CC audio content, and the development of tools to allow easy access to CC audio content within existing production environments such as a DAWs or video editors. Freesound is playing a big role in this initiative as, together with Jamendo, we will be the first repository of CC audio content to be part of the initiative. Therefore, the success of the Audio Commons Initiative is the success of Freesound ūüėČ

Please participate, your opinion is very important to us ūüôā




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Improved html uploader and captcha system!

Dear Freesounders,

We just wanted to let you know that we just deployed two small yut important upgrades that we’re sure you’ll appreciate.

On the one hand we improved Freesound’s html uploader. Now you can upload multiple files at once without the need of having Flash installed ūüôā

On the other hand we upgraded the captcha (aka anti robot spam) system to latest Google’s reCaptcha. Now it should be faster for you to prove you’re not robots, and harder for robots to pretend they’re humans…

We hope you enjoy these improvements!



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