The term “ambient” music was first coined in the late ’70s by influential British artist Brian Eno, who described it as music created to “induce calm and space to think.” 

Since then, the genre has remained popular as a calming alternative soundscape that people love to work, study, relax, meditate, chill, and even fall asleep to. While true ambient music is instrumental with no percussive beat, the definition has evolved to encompass sub-genres that push the boundaries but still fall into the general ambient arena. 

We’ve found a superb selection of all kinds of ambient music available for free online. 

12 ambient music sources to stream free online

Image: Amazon music

Amazon Music is the ecommerce giant’s music streaming platform. There are paid-for plans available, but you can listen to playlists and stations for free with no subscription or credit card required, just a sign-up. Here are three playlists to check out on the online platform. 

Ambient Favorites by Amazon Music 

An official option from the Amazon Music team, this is one of the shorter playlists, offering around three hours of atmospheric ambient tracks. It includes songs from popular artists such as Cafe del Mar, Bliss, and Sea Island. 

Instrumental Chill by Amazon Music  

This is another in-house option from Amazon. Bringing you laidback non-vocal favorites, it’s perfect for the times you don’t want lyrics rattling around in your brain. At three hours and 38 minutes, it’s the ideal playlist to fall — and stay — asleep to. 

Ambient Dreams by Amazon Music  

Curated by Amazon’s “music experts” (if they do say so themselves), this list is ideal for people looking to discover new ambient artists. It offers the latest in ambient and abstract electronic soundscapes, and comes in at a tidy 100 songs with a run time of over eight hours.

12 ambient music sources to stream free online

Image: SOMAFM

SomaFM is an amazing listener-supported, ad-free, internet-only radio station. It’s a fabulous service popular with its devoted fans for offering 30 unique channels. These broadcast underground or alternative radio to the world, with all the music hand-picked by SomaFM’s award-winning DJs. Among other genres, ambient and downtempo music is very well covered. Here are three great stations we find hard to choose between. 

SomaFM Fluid 

The Fluid station offers you the chance to “drown in the electronic sound of instrumental hip hop, future soul, and liquid trap.” Amusingly not recommended for those operating heavy equipment, you can expect soft harmonies, deep bass, smooth chords, ethereal vocals, and dynamic percussion.

SomaFM Drone Zone 

If you want to avoid percussive sound, consider the “Drone Zone” station, which “brings atmospheric space music and ambient textures with minimal beats.” Tune in and you can look forward to hearing artists such as Pete Namlook, Steve Roach, Harold Budd, Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid, Dilate, and the KLF.

SomaFM Deep Space One

Deep Space One offers deep ambient electronic, experimental, and space music designed for “inner and outer space exploration.” This stream makes for a dreamy music feed suitable for both background music and meditation. This station will give you slow-tempo tracks from the likes of Chris Coco, Extraworld, Eguana, and Carbon Based Lifeforms, although arguably they all are that. 

12 ambient music sources to stream free online

Image: SPOTIFY

Spotify is a global digital music, podcast, and video streaming service that’s available across many platforms, including online in a web player. You can listen to playlists for free via the ad-supported account option. Here are a few top playlist picks from the service. 

Ambient Relaxation by Spotify

Created by the music experts on staff at Spotify, the music streaming service invites you to “relax and unwind with chill, ambient music.” This popular list includes 331 songs for around 18 hours of audio, and has had over one million likes.  

Ambient Chill by Valley View Records 

This playlist has been curated for sleep, study, focus, and relaxation. It promises no beats, no vocals, and no distractions. It currently runs for around 13 hours but is updated often with exciting new finds.

House Focus by Spotify  

This playlist offers “instrumental house for when you need to focus” and is curated by the Spotify team. It offers a 5.5-hour blast of tunes that have been selected to keep you on track when you need to knuckle down. 

12 ambient music sources to stream free online

Image: youtube

As the planet’s biggest video-sharing website and the second-most visited site in the world, YouTube needs no introduction. It goes without saying there is a plethora of ambient music to be found on the platform. We’ve narrowed it down to three sure-fire sources of chill and ambient music for you to take a look at. 

ChilledCow

Technically, ChilledCow is a source for LoFi hip hop, but the popularity of this relaxing music source means it warrants inclusion here. The massively listened to YouTube channel offers two live streams — one with beats to relax or study to and one with beats to chill or sleep to. This stream was famously intercepted with an erroneous YouTube takedown in February 2020, at which point it had passed the 13,000-hour live stream mark and seen over 200 million views.  

Chillhop Music  

Similar to ChilledCow is Chillhop, which boasts an impressive three million subscribers that love the chill beats on offer via a 24/7 live stream. As well as the live stream which you can tune in to at any time, Chillhop offers a comprehensive collection of playlists to suit your mood, including the ever-popular “Late Night Vibes” music to fall asleep to.  

SpaceAmbient

This Iceland-based channel offers a galactic mix of space ambient and electronic music, all kinds of spacey psybient (psychedelic ambient), cyber, dub, synth, retro, drone, future, bass, and downtempo, and features them via this futuristic, sci-fi, and space-themed destination. Anyone with an interest in such audio is advised to browse the videos and playlists, a lot of which promote indie artists.   

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