Finding the best royalty free music sites is not easy with dozens of services competing in the space. Our team scoured the web looking for the best value and determined Soundstripe is the winner. We chose Soundstripe due to their competitive pricing, excellent user interface and wide selection of music. To make it more enticing, they recently added support for royalty free sound effects on their premium-tier subscription.
Our runner-up, AudioBlocks, is a popular copyright free music site run by StoryBlocks (the same team behind VideoBlocks). We found their user interface and song/sound effect selection wasn't as good as SoundStripe yet they still remain a viable option.
For those on a you tight budget and don't want to sign up for royalty-free music subscription then check out AudioJungle. Unlike many copyright free music sites, AudioJungle acts as an online marketplace. It lets musicians and composers sell their sound effects or royalty free music directly to filmmakers or YouTube creators. Sales are on a per-song basis thus only requiring you to pay for what you need.
The top royalty free music service based on song library, license terms and pricing.
In business since 2016, SoundStripe is a newer service geared for providing filmmakers with the best quality royalty free music tracks with easy and affordable licensing terms.
Use coupon code: ‘thetechreviewer‘ to save 10%
Operated under their parent company StoryBlocks, AudioBlocks is the sister service to VideoBlocks and was one of the first services to offer an unlimited royalty free music for a flat annual fee.
Best Budget Option
An top online copyright free music marketplace for composers and songwriters to sell their work.
Part of the popular Envato Market (VideoHive, ThemeForest, CodeCanyon, etc.), AudioJungle is an online marketplace for third-party sellers to license their content to media professionals.
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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 or a music videos.
Due to this, the major social networks have built-in algorithms to remove videos that violate their policies. In YouTube's case, 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.
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 license music for legal use in films or web content.
In the article 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 Does Royalty Free Differ From Creative Commons?
The term ‘royalty free‘ is defined as:
the right to use copyright material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales.” (Wikipedia)
What does this mean in for using music in your films?
You can buy a royalty free license that grants the rights to use a copyrighted song in your videos. Social media platforms can recognize this license allowing use of the audio their platform without any legal risk.
Remember, buying a royalty free license doesn't mean you own exclusive rights to a song. You'll have permission from the composer/artist/band to use it under the license terms.
A ‘Creative Commons‘ agreement differs by being:
“a set of various licenses that allow people to share their copyrighted work to be copied, edited, built upon, etc., while retaining the copyright to the original work (often used attributively).” (Dictionary.com)
When it comes to creative commons, there is many types of licenses. Most content holders allowing use under the Creative Commons license seek attribution (meaning video creators must give credit in the video description) and non-commercial use and only allow limited distribution of the work that incorporates their content.
Some of them are so old that they are outside of the copyright regulation and remain for use in the public domain. While Creative Commons is free, it has a much smaller music archive and the risk of facing serious legal trouble for misusing the license terms.
Pricing Model: Pay-Per-Song Vs. Subscription?
Out of the best royalty-free sites mentioned in this article, there are two different business models used. The first is subscription-based pricing which may sound daunting. However, this usually ends up being the more affordable and logical choice in the end.
With a subscription service like Soundstripe, you'll gain access to the huge library of royalty free music for an annual fee. Most of these subscriptions offer unlimited licenses with no use restrictions. Additionally, they add new music to their content to their libraries every week.
For the second pricing model, you'll pay for use o each individual audio track. In this case, the cost per use differs depending on what type of video distribution means. A music license needed an indie or wedding film will often be cheaper than a license used in a worldwide advertising campaign. If you want copyright free music for promotional or commercial purposes, expect the cost to be higher.
The “pay-per-song” license tends to be the more expensive choice. For someone who knows exactly what song they want to use in their content, it could be more suitable. Especially if you have no need for further royalty free audio tracks throughout the year.
What Happens After My Subscription Ends?
What happens if you download and use royalty free music during your paid membership, but don't buy or renew the annual subscription? In most cases, you'll still maintain the rights to use that song.
Here's what the SoundStripe, the top choice on our list of royalty free music sites has to say on this topic:
“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.”
Can My Content Still Get Flagged With A Proper License?
It is a pain to deal with a copyright claim after you have already paid for a license to use a song or piece of audio content. The truth is that many of these royalty free sites license their music from the original composer/artist. This requires them to use automated systems to identify piracy or unlicensed use.
The bad news is that you could still be flagged for copyright music violations on your YouTube channel , Instagram or Facebook. The good news is most of these services have dedicated pages on their sites to submit a counterclaim.
The matter is usually sorted out within 48 hours. We've had only one claim in the past when using these services in our YouTube videos, and it was resolved in under a day.
Comparing Our Recommendations To License Audio
|Per Song Price||N/A||N/A||$5+||$49+||$24+||$65+||$24|
|Commerical Use (Base Price)|
Recommended Sites & Services (2019)
SoundStripe is one of top services in the market and most trusted source for royalty free music. 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 quality audio 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 tier 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 songs or background tracks for our video content. I prefer their sleek and simple interface along with the advanced filtering options.
If you are looking for more hip, modern-style music then SoundStripe has the best selection while remaining at an affordable cost per year. Click to 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 our link using the coupon code: ‘thetechreviewer‘. Check out all the royalty free sites, 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 more traditional style. It doesn't offer a whole lot of modern genre of music. Their library is vast with over 150,000 audio tracks and sound effects available to choose from. Chances are you can find something to fit your needs 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). Click to 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.
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.
MusicBed is a popular choice for many filmmakers due to their high-quality content. This makes their licensing costs higher than many of the other sites listed here. The prices can rise depending on the type of usage. For example, the cheapest license is for a home movie ($49), yet anything commercial starts at $199 and up.
The MusicBed interface is sleek and organized making for a pleasant browsing experience. Their list of genres covers all your basic needs. They have a lot of modern sounding content derived from more than 600 artists and composers. The MusicBed offers a ton of great instrumentals which is ideal for background music.
Recently the MusicBed added an annual membership which offers unlimited access to some of their music library. It starts at $9.99 for personal use on social media or student projects. Pricing goes all the way up to $99.99 a month for their top tier plan (to use music for commercials or marketing videos). These are all 12-month commitments with no month-to-month options.
If you have a subscription and find music isn't included, you'll get a 25% discount on a per-project license. Additionally, MusicBed has incorporated a convenient authorization service dubbed SyncID. This offers an automated approval for YouTube so you won't get your content using MusicBed songs flagged or taken down.
Artlist is a new player in the royalty free music game. 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 music for different types of videos like vlogs, weddings, slow motion, travel, business and technology.
Premium Beat has been a staple in the market. In the past has been seen as one of the top royalty free music sites by many well-known filmmakers. Their pricing structure runs as a one license per song.
However, they do it in an easier way with a flat rate of $49 for the ‘standard' license. This is suitable for web content or non-commercial distribution. If you are going to use music for a non-web advertisement or in revenue-generating content, you'll need to pay the $199 ‘premium' license.
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 authorization to use the music should you be questioned by a social media network or legal entity.
An earlier version of this article included SongFreedom/FyrFly as one of the 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 Mentions & Royalty Free Music Resources
YouTube Audio Library
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 finding royalty free music.
As a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and our Managing Editor, Colt loves testing out the newest tech products/services. His goal is to help better educate other consumers to ensure the most satisfying purchases decisions on consumer electronics and services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.