With so much of our world being consumed in the world of multimedia, it is as important as ever for filmmakers and video creatives to capture their viewer's attention whether it be a documentary, wedding film, short film or business commercial.
Of course, this must be first done visually with images that please the eye or make you feel a certain emotion, but the sound or music used within these creative works can be just as important to truly captivate your audience.
Unless you are fortunate enough to be musically inclined yourself, chances are you'll be relying on outside sources for your music needs. Trying to find quality songs that are free to use on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, and especially for commercial projects.
It wasn't until around this time last year that we discovered Soundstripe, a subscription-based licensing service geared to filmmakers and media creatives offering great music.
The service was created specifically for filmmakers and creators in early 2016. With support for both the filmmakers who need royalty-free songs for their projects and the artists themselves who use their talent to produce their beautiful music.
In the remainder of this article, we will provide a review of our experience using the Soundstripe service for just under a year. Our opinions and views expressed in this article are entirely our own without any outside perspectives or bias coming into play.
Why Do I Need To Use Royalty Free Music?
If you are new to filmmaking or multimedia, you may think that you could just get away with utilizing popular commercial tracks in your videos whether it's for personal or business projects.
The truth of the matter is that this is not only HIGHLY frowned upon in the creative industry due to copyright violations, but also illegal without written consent from the originating music artist or copyright holder.
Don't believe me? Learn from these past content creators mistakes:
- Joe Simon was sued for $150,000 for using an unlicensed song on a wedding video and ended up settling for five figures in court
- Music licensing firm sues 4 major YouTube channels over copyright infringement
- YouTube sensation Michelle Phan (6.7M subscribers) was sued for $150,000 for multiple infractions of using unlicensed EDM songs in her makeup tutorials
Fortunately, the is a way to combat this is with royalty free music licensing. This concept is that you purchase a license to utilize someone else's intellectual property without having to pay an additional royalty as you distribute more copies or obtain more views. Being able to use great music is a luxury and for that, you'll have to pay the original source.
Pricing: How Much Does SoundStripe Cost?
Many music licensing services offer a business model in which you pay a set amount of money between $15-$199 per track. For Soundstripe's pricing model, you pay a single flat subscription fee, and this includes access to their music libraries full of thousands of songs that can be used in unlimited projects.
These terms are valid whether you purchase a month-to-month membership for $15 per month or a discounted annual membership for $135 per year. By choosing the year subscription, you ultimately save $45 when compared to paying the monthly cost over twelve months.
If you need sound effects as well, the company recently added a higher paid tier called Soundstripe Premium which costs $252 a year with no subscription monthly option. Included with this paid plan, you'll get access to the unlimited music library as the standard plan as well as a separate sound effects library.
Compared to something like AudioBlocks which includes access to a sound effects library and full music offerings at their base rate, this is a bit of a let-down. However, we find the music at SoundStripe to be of a higher quality and many content creators don't need access to sound effects anyway.
Another cool perk of the premium subscription is the additional of 3,000 usable stem files. For those unfamiliar with stem files, they are music tracks that are broken down into four musical stems which often include a drums stem, a bassline stem, a harmony stem, and a lead stem in addition to their stereo master track.
Licensing Terms & Conditions
One of the benefits to Soundstripe beyond their affordable cost is their music licensing terms which are far more generous than most of their competition.
For example, with a service like Premium Beat operates on a pay per song basis. The problem with this model is that not only do you get less value on the dollar as you have to buy a song starting at $49, but the terms of the license can get expensive quickly. This is because the $49 ‘standard' license works for web-based, commercial projects. If you want to use it on a non-web advertisement or any content that generates revenue, you'll need to purchase their ‘premium' license which jumps all the way up to $199.
Whether or not this license is valid for more than one project differs depending on the company that runs the ‘per song' model. In Premium Beat's case, they offer access for unlimited projects worldwide with their standard license (terms apply), but their more expensive premium license only covers a single project in perpetuity.
For SoundStripe, their subscription base model gives you unlimited uses for the flat rate with no license restrictions besides use in porn, illegal acts, etc. If you do wish to utilize one of their tracks in a video that contains nudity, you'll have to email [email protected] so they can verify that the original copyright owner is okay with this.
Many of you might be thinking about a scenario where you pay for one of Soundstripe's subscription plans and then end up canceling down the road. Are you still covered for use on songs that you previously downloaded and used for a project?
Yes, you are! Soundstripe's FAQs page addresses this stating:
“Each time you download a song for final use from the site, it is in perpetuity which means any song you license and use in projects you create while you’re a Soundstripe member, remain legally licensed forever and ever, amen.”
This means you'll get unlimited music or sound effects usage for anything you downloaded and licensed through the service while being a premium member.
User Interface & Web Experience
For most people, the cost is the most important element to consider when looking for a royalty free music provider. However, being able to use sleek and easy to maneuver interface, only makes the licensing process that much more satisfying.
From a design standpoint, the interface is organized while providing all the information you could want at a glance. The song lists include the track's title/artist, a waveform (that you can scrub through), song duration, mood, type (vocal or instrumental) and licensing shortcut button.
You can navigate various sections through the left sidebar which gives you options for browsing the library as well as handling your playlists or favorited tracks. Since new content is added regularly, you can ‘follow' specific artists or playlists to see new relevant content at a glance. Lastly, the left sidebar offers a section for account management which is where you'll handle billing, etc.
The top navigation bar within the ‘browse' page allows you to filter music by mood, genre, pace, instrument, duration, BPM, track length or toggling whether you want songs with vocals included in results. With so many filtering options, you can find just the right piece of music for your search criteria without too much of a hassle.
Content Quality & Selection
The content quality at Soundstripe is top-notch with hundreds of talented artists with great music spanning nearly every niche you could ask for. Additionally, they have both short and long-form songs ranging from 30 seconds all the way up to 8 minutes in length.
Not sure if the library matches your taste or specific needs? You can find out for sure as Soundstripe allows you to browse and listen to their entire music selection for free without the need to make an account or provide any credit card details.
Beyond an existing library full of thousands of songs, Soundstripe adds new songs to their library every Friday. Over the course of a month, you can expect to see around 150-250 new songs added to their music libraries.
If you are a Spotify user, then you likely have used their ‘browse' feature which gives you access to curated playlists based on genre or another similar quality.
Soundstripe also adopted this with playlists based on top trends or popular genres, and we've found it is a quick way to locate quality music for your projects. For example here are a few of the curated playlists at the time this review was written:
- Happy Holidays – a list curated for songs related to Christmas
- Young and Free – a list focusing on adventurous and upbeat songs
- Fall Vibes – a group of songs catering to the styles of autumn
- Corporate – a list of music tracks that are ideal for business-style videos
- Stranger Synths – music based on the popular Netflix show Stranger Things
- Songs for Sleep – ambient and minimal music tracks for a low key vibe
- I Do – emotional soundtracks about love and marriage
- Reception – playful and fun songs perfect for a wedding reception
Looking For A Soundstripe Coupon?
We know that some of you are on a tight budget and could benefit from a coupon code to help cover the cost of a Soundstripe membership. As a content creator myself, I understand how tight your budget might be all while trying to improve the quality of your work.
To help support our readers, we were able to get an exclusive 10% off coupon for any reader that wants to become a new customer of Soundstripe. All you have to do is visit Soundstripe via this link and enter the code ‘thetechreviewer‘ upon checkout.
As filmmakers ourselves, we have dealt with the dilemmas of finding good royalty-free music for use in our creative projects including the video reviews used on this website.
If you are looking for the most affordable and efficient solution for solving this problem, then you are better off sticking to a subscription-based model. The top two to consider are Soundstripe and Audioblocks.
While Audioblocks includes sound effects in their base price, Soundstripe's difference in price is made up for in the quality of content in their music library and a vastly better interface.
While we used to rely on Audioblocks exclusively for our projects, we have now switched to Soundstripe for our music licensing needs with no regrets.