One of the hardest tasks in filmmaking is finding the right music for your project. And while composing is a fantastic idea, most people cannot afford to hire a composer for every project. That brings us to the wonderful world of royalty free music (dripping with sarcasm). Lets be honest, trying to find the right track for your video sucks. Hours and hours can be spent looking and searching Google just to find nothing.
I put together this guide for filmmakers in mind. First we will go over licenses, then looks at a list of my favorite royalty/creative commons music websites for video.
Understanding the Licenses
We can’t go and download whatever music we want and use it however we want (Unless you’re a pirate and don’t mind the possibility of getting your arse sued into the next century). So I would encourage you to understand the following licenses.
Creative Commons has been described as being at the forefront of the copyright movement, which seeks to provide an alternative to the automatic “all rights reserved” copyright, and has been dubbed “some rights reserved.”
Music with the Creative Commons license are free to download but require some kind of attribution. In most cases you are not allowed to use this for commercial work. That said, there are several different kinds of creative commons licenses, check out the list here.
TIP: When looking at creative commons music, look for a little tag that looks like this:
If you click on it, you will be taken to a page that will describe in detail what you can and can’t do with that music:
Music that is not free, but you do not have to attribute. Be sure to read the terms before buying. In general, you can find better quality music via royalty free. The Music Bed is by far my favorite.
Be sure to also read the terms… Some royalty free music sites only allow you to use the song once.
When a work is in the public domain, it is free for use by anyone for any purpose without restriction under copyright law. Public domain is the purest form of open/free, since no one owns or controls the material in any way. You can read more about Public Domain music here.
Music Website List
Over the past 5 years of doing video I have found several good royalty free music websites. Below I have listed them with the licenses they offer.
1. Vimeo Music Store - Creative Commons/Royalty Free
Vimeo Music Store is your one-stop-shop for finding, discovering and licensing high quality music for your videos.
2. The Music Bed - Royalty Free
Hands down, my favorite Royalty free music site. They offer loads of amazing songs at very fair rates. They also have some of the best design and artwork on the web.
3. Audio Jungle - Royalty Free
Great site to buy and sell music on the cheap. Huge selection.
4. Moby Gratis - Creative Commons
Fantastic site for creative commons use. Moby is offering the music for free to filmmakers using the music for non-commercial purpose. Although you can get it approved for commercial use.
5. Song Freedom - Royalty Free
This site is awesome… You can get royalty free music from artists like One Republic, Train, Jason Mraz, Parachute and more. All for $25+ depending on the license. Awesome huh?
6. Rock Hill Tracks – Royalty Free
Royalty free music by my good friend Jon Swerens. He sells some high quality authentic piano music.
7. Bensound - Creative Commons
Well designed royalty free creative commons music website.
8. CC Mixter - Creative Commons
ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.
9. Free Sound - Creative Commons
The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. Freesound focuses only on sound, not songs.
10. Audio Farm - Creative Commons
Audiofarm is an audio website for helping people explore, share, and enjoy Creative Commons Audio from around the world.
11. Incompetech - Creative Commons
Collection of free music as long as you attribute.
12. Faraway Music - Creative Commons/Royalty Free
Taylor Hayward offers a few piano songs for $3-5/album. This stuff is amazing. She does ask for attribution.
13. Public Domain 4 U - Public Domain
This site contains recordings of songs that were published prior to 1922 and are now in the public domain, which means the public is free to copy and use the works in any way.
14. OP Sound - Creative Commons
This website offers a collection of music from a variety of artists and genres under Creative Commons.
15. Royalty Free Music - Creative Commons
royaltyfreemusic.com mainly offers royalty free tracks for a price, but they do offer some 30 second music clips, beats and loops that can be used for personal or non-commercial productions. You must credit RoyaltyFreeMusic.com as the source of the music.
BONUS: Premium Beat - Royalty Free
Fantastic selection run and sold by a great team. Check out their blog for some great content as well.
BONUS: JewelBeat – Royalty Free
99 cent Royalty free tracks for background music, videos and films.
BONUS: With Etiquette – Royalty Free
High quality selection of royalty free music.
Did I Miss Any?
Hope you found this helpful. Just remember to always double-check the license terms and respect the artists. They, like us, don’t like it when people jack their stuff.
Any sites you would add to the list?