Where can you find royalty free music? As you probably know, it is illegal to use copyrighted commercial music when publishing video clips online. For example, YouTube has developed a copyright-protection system that immediately detects unlicensed uses of copyrighted music tracks inside videos published online and silences them or blocks them from public viewing. So, how can you get a nice background music to place on your videos without infringing the law? The MasterNewMeda research team comes to the rescue with this guide listing all of the best services on the web to get or download open and unrestricted royalty free music.
Photo credit: enot-poloskun
Royalty free music means that you either download music tracks for free or you pay a one-time fee to gain access to music. Then, you can do everything the original artist allows you to make with it and for as many times as you want.
When music is royalty-free, the rights on the music tracks you download / purchase are generally regulated by Creative Commons licenses, which specify exactly what you can and cannot do with that music. For example, there might be some restrictions regarding commercial use, adaptation or redistribution placed by the original author. Therefore, video producers are strongly encouraged to read carefully the licenses associated with each track.
To go straight to the point, there are two main reasons why royalty free music can be very useful for professional web publishers:
But where can you find such free music tracks for your video clips?
Major music distributors like Amazon, Apple or Microsoft are definitely not your best choice, as these big companies focus mostly on big mainstream performers who distribute only copyrighted music tracks.
Independent, or indie musicians are instead the best direction to look into. These are the guys who often release their music under a CC license, as they find that making tracks available for free or for a small fee is a much better way to earn a reputation and a strong following of fans.
Luckily there is a growing number of royalty free music services on the web that will help you find the music you need, no matter which kind of artist, genre, duration time or quality you need to match your video production needs.
To help you rapidly identify your ideal music track licensing service, the MasterNewMedia research team has searched, identified and collected all of the best resources available online in this space. We have also prepared a mindmap showcasing all of the free music services presently in this space, as well as a comparative table illustrating the strength and weakness of each one of these offerings.
Here are the specific criteria that MasterNewMedia has identified to test and compare these royalty free music services:
Here is the guide with full details:
Jamendo is an online music community where musicians publish their songs in a royalty free fashion under a Creative Commons license. Jamendo is free to join and you don't even have to register to download music. Tracks are available either in the MP3 or the OGG file formats and you can download any song by receiving a link at your email address or using P2P sharing networks. If you need to use Jamendo music for commercial uses, you can do so by joining Jamendo PRO, where you can pay a variable rate to gain unrestricted access to every track depending on your multimedia project.
Opsound is a royalty free music service where you can download free, open music tracks without even registering. All music tracks submitted by indie artists are licensed under a Creative Commons license and are also available for commercial use. Please note that Opsound strongly encourages every commercial use of tracks on the site to be regulated with the artist herself. Downloads are either available in the OGG or the MP3 file format. No Pro account is available.
Dig.ccMixter is a service where you can browse the music archive of the ccMixter community music site, which offers a vast selection of royalty free music tracks released under a Creative Commons license. You can find and download free MP3 music tracks for either personal or commercial use. On the download window of some music tracks you can also access cc-licensed project files or samples of single instruments that you can use to create your own remixes or music projects. Registration is not needed to download music tracks. No Pro account is available.
The Royalty Free Music Library is a large archive of free, open music tracks that you can purchase and download to use in your video productions. Songs cost $39.99 each, but discounts are available if you buy multiple music tracks. Every song is available in the MP3 and WAV file format and it is openly licensed to be used inside audio / video projects, but not to be shared, transferred or sold. Registering to the site is not compulsory to purchase music tracks. No Pro account is available.
The Free Music Archive is a royalty free music resource on the web where you can download open and unrestricted music tracks to enrich multimedia projects like video clips. You can also share all music tracks you download, but you are not allowed to remix or sell them. Commercial use is not allowed. Registration is not necessary to download songs, which are distributed in the MP3 file format. No Pro account is available either.
MagnaTune is a paid royalty free music archive where you can purchase and download independent free music for a $15/mo fee. You can use all music tracks available from MagnaTune to complement your videos and to also publish your clips online. You are only required to provide attribution to the original author and to MagnaTune when your video is up. Music tracks are available in one of the following formats: MP3, WAV, OGG, VBR, AAC and FLAC. Commercial use is also allowed, you just have to pick the correct license when downloading your music. Registration is required to purchase and download audio tracks. No Pro account is available.
AudioJungle is a royalty free music service where you can purchase and download free music tracks to use in your video clips. There are music tracks available for as low as $1. The regular license of AudioJungle allows you to use the music in your video projects, but not to resell any of the tracks or your video clips where the tracks are featured. If you need a commercial license, you have to switch to an Extended License (prices vary depending on the music track you choose). All audio files are available in the MP3 file format. Registration is compulsory.
Music Bakery is a royalty free music archive where you can purchase and download free music tracks from independent artists. Music tracks start from $29 each and are available in the MP3 format. Every song you purchase can be freely used inside original video clips or other kinds of multimedia projects. Commercial use is also permitted. Registering to the site is needed in order to buy songs from Music Bakery. A Pro account is not available.
NeoSounds is a vast library of royalty free music tracks and sound effects that you can purchase and download for multimedia works like video clips. Songs are all contributed from professional musicians and producers. Music tracks start from $4.95 each and are available in the MP3 file format. Commercial uses where your video is sold under 10,000 copies are also permitted. Registration is mandatory to purchase NeoSounds royalty-free music tracks. A Pro account is not available.
PremiumBeat is a royalty free music service that offers free, unrestricted music tracks to purchase and download. Prices start at $29.95 per MP3 track. All songs belong to professional composers and artists. There are four types of license available, but the first one, Standard, is already sufficient to grant the rights to upload and publish your clips on a video sharing site. No commercial use is allowed. A Pro account is unavailable and registration is mandatory to make all purchases.
Incompetech is a royalty free music service created by composer Kevin MacLeod, which offers original and unrestricted music tracks for free download. All songs downloaded from incompetech can be used for either personal or commercial video projects. Using the dedicated search engine on the site you can filter your music search by genre, feel or keywords. A Pro account is not available and registration is not compulsory to download music tracks.
Music Revolution is a royalty free music marketplace where you can find and download unrestricted music tracks that you can utilize in your multimedia projects. All songs are available in both WAV and MP3 file formats and suitable for personal or commercial use (restrictions apply). Pro accounts are available starting at $9.99 for single music tracks. Registration to the site is not mandatory to download royalty free music.
Royalty Free Music.com is a royalty free music tracks marketplace where you can find and download music tracks for personal and commercial use (restrictions apply) to enrich your multimedia projects. All songs are available in both WAV and MP3 file formats and there is a large archive of free music tracks you can download at no charge. Single tracks are priced at $9.95 and pro accounts starts at $299.95/mo which allows you to download 15 tracks and 300 sound effects. Registration is mandatory to download royalty free music.
AudioMicro is a stock music marketplace where you can purchase and sell royalty free music tracks and sound effects. You can use all royalty free music content on AudioMicro for both personal and commercial use (check the permissions related to each license available). All music tracks uploaded in MP3 are available for download only in MP3, while music tracks uploaded in both AIFF and WAV file formats are available for download as WAV, AIFF and MP3 files. To buy music on AudioMicro you need to purchase music credits by following two options: Subscription packages (starting at $4/credit) and Pay as you Go (starting at $8.99/credit). Registration to the service is requested.
MusicLoops is a royalty free music library where you can purchase and download music loops and full-length tracks from over 50 categories, including classical, latin, jazz and much more. You can pay for each track once and get music royalty free for use in an unlimited number of times in film, television, video, and radio applications. Each music track is available in WAV format and cannot be distributed or sold to individuals or other music download sites, mixed in other songs, sub-licensed or sold as a package with other games or software. Registration is not required and a Pro account is not available.
Audionautix belongs to the category of music download sites where you can download free royalty-free music tracks for your video clips. All songs are divided into five categories: Film / Orchestra, Rock / POP / Blues, Acoustic and Tech / Urban / dance. You can use all the music tracks for both free and commercial use as longs as you always credit the author, Jason Shaw, and his website. All royalty free music tracks are available in MP3 file format. Registration is not requested and a Pro account is not available.
DMusic is an online digital music community that empowers video producers and musicians with Creative Commons-licensed tracks for their remixes and clips. DMusic is free to join, but you need to pay a variable rate to download the tracks in full. Users can freely browse their favorite songs and download / use them according to the license term that apply to each track. Tracks are available in M3U format and downloadable directly from the site. Registration is needed to download the songs and to contribute your own music to the community.
The popular video sharing community Vimeo has launched a music library where you can buy tracks to use in your video projects. You can download tracks released under two different kinds of licenses: Personal (for non-commercial videos) and Limited Commercial (for professional purposes). If you are a Vimeo partner at Audiosocket and Free Music Archive services, you can also offer your compositions for download. Users can browse through Vimeo collection by searching by genre, tempo, theme, mood or a specific instrument. Free tracks are also available.
SoundClick is an online music library and community that allows you to buy tracks from a large variety of collections and use them to enhance your multimedia projects. Most tracks are available under a royalty-free license and delivered as MP3 format, but you can also find completely free tracks. Artists and composers are also welcome to upload their creations to SoundClick for free and receive a 70% commission every time their songs are purchased.
Epitonic is a completely free online music library where you can search and download original songs for your multimedia projects. Episonic allows you to use the material on the website for personal or educational purposes only, which means that any of their uses require you contacting the owner of the track for copyright permissions. All tracks are available in MP3 and ready for download with a simple right-click operation. Registration is not requested.
Daniele Bazzano -
Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on Sep 1st, 2010 as "Royalty-Free Music: Where To Find Free Music Tracks For Your Video Clips".