Video is becoming a common way to consume content via social media like YouTube or Facebook. These platforms offer new opportunities for filmmakers or brands to get a message across to a wide audience using video content. Finding the right musical score or song to go along with your video is an important task.
Social media platforms like YouTube or Facebook can face a lawsuit if a user uploads content under copyright. This is the case even with non-commercial short films, travel videos, podcasts, or music videos.
Due to this, the major social networks have built-in algorithms to remove videos that use copyrighted songs that violate their policies. If you use unlicensed music on youtube videos they might not remove the video. Instead, they may keep it on their platform yet offer the advertising revenue to the song's author.
Being a filmmaker is not easy. A quality video project often takes several hours to produce and edit. No one wants to work hard to have their video removed or filled with annoying ads that don't benefit you due to their background music choice.
A common dilemma for filmmakers when creating content is copyright concerns about audio. Even more so when you have to be strict about the song genre or tempo for your project. We'll go into detail the best way to obtain royalty free music licenses for legal use in films or web content. For a better explanation of why it is better to go this route than through free to use, Creative Commons audio, check out this article.
In the guide below, we'll introduce you to 7 of the best sites to help you find quality royalty free music. These sites offer copyright free audio content that can be licensed for personal or commercial use.
How Do These Music Licensing Services Stack Up?
|Per Song Price||N/A||N/A||$5+||$49+||$24+||$65+||$24|
|Commerical Use (Base Price)|
Our Top Royalty-Free Music Providers For 2020
SoundStripe is one of top services in the market and most trusted source for royalty free music tracks. They have done a great job offering one of the best subscriptions for filmmakers. Their base subscription costs $135/year. SoundStripe provides tens of thousands of copyright free tracks. On average, the service adds 150-250 new songs each month with new releases every Friday.
Recently, the copyright free service added a premium tier which jumps up to $245 per year. This offers the same music as the standard subscription as well as over 10,000 royalty free sound effects, music stems and pre-release access to new songs.
SoundStripe is the first place we look for background music for our youtube videos and reviews. I prefer their sleek and simple interface along with the advanced filtering options. They also have some of the best licensing terms as you are free to use each track for anything, but ‘adult' videos.
If you are looking for more hip, modern-style music then we believe that SoundStripe has the best selection while remaining at an affordable cost per year. Read our full Soundstripe review.
Since we enjoy this subscription so much, we decided to try to get readers some extra value. SoundStripe set up an exclusive 10% discount for any new sign-ups through this link using the coupon code: ‘thetechreviewer‘. Check out all the services listed within this round-up, but don't forget to reap the savings if you end up choosing SoundStripe!
AudioBlocks subsidiary of the popular stock videography website, VideoBlocks. AudioBlocks focuses on audio elements which also include sound effects and music loops. The service has been around for a few years now and has a great reputation. It operates with a subscription-based model with an annual fee of $149/year (used to be $99/year).
While I do like AudioBlocks and have used them often in the past, their library is a more traditional style. It doesn't offer a whole lot of modern genre of music. Their library is vast with over 150,000 music tracks and sound effects available to choose from. Chances are you can find something to fit your video style with filters such as duration, tempo, instruments, genre, and mood.
You view their entire library before signing up, but AudioBlocks has stopped offering their 7-day free trial period. Instead, they now offer a ‘basic' plan that lets you download 5 loops, sound effects or pieces of music per month for a lower fee (starting at $9/month). Read our full AudioBlocks review.
AudioJungle lets artists sell their audio tracks on the well-established Envato Market. Unlike the two previous services, AudioJungle has a pay-per-song model. They offer over 331K music tracks starting at just $5 per song.
The per-song price can rise from $5 all the way up to $39. There are also music packs that provide a discount on multiple tracks from the same genre or instrument. Their library of stock music is vast with options for all tastes from classical piano to heavy metal to fit any video types.
You can view the entire library and listen to the tracks without making an account. AudioJungle even lets you download a preview for editing purposes before buying. Their preview files have an AudioJungle watermark until you buy a license.
Envato Elements is a subscription offered by the owners of the Envato marketplaces such as AudioJungle or ThemeForest. A unique aspect of this subscription is that it includes multiple forms of copyright free media beyond music including images, background music, video, sound effects, and web templates.
Pricing starts at just $16.50/month with no long term commitment. Each subscription offers unlimited access to its entire library of creative assets without much red tape on the licensing restrictions for video use. From an audio standpoint, the library boasts over 240,000 usable audio elements between their music tracks and sound effect options.
To be clear, the Envato Elements and AudioJungle libraries are mirrored or a perfect match. While there are plenty of cross-referencing between the two libraries, the music creators are able to pick and choose exclusivity to either platform as they wish.
Artlist is a new player in the royalty free service industry. They offer a promising service with a great interface, filters and track selection for $199/year. What I like about Artlist is their filtering system has a separate section dubbed ‘video theme'. This allows you to choose background music for different types of videos like vlogs, weddings, slow motion, travel, business and technology. For more, check out our full Artlist review.
One of the newer royalty free platforms that are quickly taking over the industry is Epidemic Sound. They have gained a large presence from well-known YouTubers like Peter McKinnon who regularly use their copyright free tracks for background music and have made dedicated videos promoting the subscription service.
Epidemic Sound offers two different subscription options to cater to different needs and budgets. Their ‘personal' plan is priced at $144/year (or $15/month) and offers access to use of their entire library of music tracks for usage in videos on social media sites like YouTube (even allows video monetization), Twitch, Instagram, Facebook, and podcasting.
If you want to utilize these tracks for background music in a video that is going to be used in digital advertising or to a much broader audience via television or traditional broadcasting then you'll want to jump up to their ‘commercial plan'. Priced at a higher $299/year of ($49/month), you'll gain deeper licensing freedoms for commercial usage.
A lesser-known yet reputable service for purchasing copyright free music is HookSounds. Operating on a per-song basis, you can buy a ‘basic' license for $24. This includes commercial use and lifetime rights for social media and traditional web use.
Their ‘business' license will run you $49. You can use it for advertisement, podcasts, software, indie/documentary films, video games, and apps.
If you are searching for royalty free music for widespread broadcast use then you'll have to jump way up to the $580 license. This allows you to use the music for national/international ads as well as television, radio and theatrically released films.
We like that HookSounds includes a PDF certificate with every license purchase. This makes it easy to prove that you are authorized to use the music should you be questioned by a social media network or legal entity.
An earlier version of this article included SongFreedom aka FyrFly as one our recommended royalty-free music sites. It was brought to our attention that SongFreedom's subscription is not set up to be easily canceled should you be unhappy with the service. We can't support this type of business ethics so we have removed SongFreedom as one of our best site recommendations. We are sorry for any prior confusion this may have caused.
Honorable Royalty Free Services & Site Mentions
- YouTube Audio Library
- Josh Woodward
Ending Summary – Royalty Free Music Services
Not all filmmakers' music requirements are the same. The type of music used in a wedding film likely wouldn't be like music needed for an extreme sports compilation.
A $15K production budget for a corporate video will have plenty of money to spend on royalty-free music. On the other hand, a film student may have a very limited budget when shooting a friend's wedding for free.
Most of these sites offer a broad range of genres and music styles to choose from. It is your call as a filmmaker to determine which service offers the best music for your needs and budget.
For most, the music library and low annual fee of Soundstripe is the best site for licensing royalty free music without any hassles or breaking the bank.