[Opinion] The Best Free & Pay Music Websites For Video Editors

Great music can take a video edit to the next level, but music that doesn’t fit, or is cheesy stock-quality can make even the most awesome video seem like something your uncle put together after a few beers. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite places to get FREE music for low/no-budget video projects, as well as some pay sites.

There is a lot of garbage stock music out there, and it can be difficult to find something that fits your edits, and inspires the feeling you want to create in your video. As an editor, my process is one where I cut my story and footage to a length that I think works, and then I audition different audio tracks and see if the feelings and tones match each other. Once I’ve found something that complements the piece, I’ll typically tweak the edit points to line up scene changes and transitions with beats or breaks in the music.

If the video itself doesn’t have any spoken words (like a narration or voiceover) then I may use a song that has vocals, but most of the time I go for instrumental pieces. I find that vocals in music can compete with your talent speaking on camera.

For the purposes of writing a more in-depth article, I’ve included websites that I have not used, but have found through referrals or on other listing articles. If you have used some of these, or better yet you know of ones I didn’t list, please post in the comments with your experiences, I’d love to hear about it and make this article a go-to resource for video editors looking for music.


Free Music Sites

 

Jamendo. This website provides an enormous catalog of free music that is available under various Creative Commons licenses. Some of these licenses require attribution, or don’t allow for derivative works, so check to be sure you can adhere to the particular license before using something. These are actually groups and artists, not just your average cheesy royalty free tracks made by the same 2 composers locked in a room for a week. I’ve found a lot of good music here.
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Incompetech. Kevin MacLeod has been making royalty free tracks for people in need of music for quite a few years now. He even takes requests for custom scoring at a very reasonable rate from what I’ve heard. He has a library of tracks on his website, all he asks for is that you credit him in your work, but you can certainly make a donation too.
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Moby Gratis. Yes, THE Moby. Being the modern artist that he is, Moby makes some of his music freely available for independent, not-for-profit shorts and films. The day I found this, I was totally blown away. If only other artists had this view of sharing art to help others create their own. You need to register for an account at the site and there are about 4-5 pages of his music you can choose from. Once you find a track, you have to fill out a small form to get approval to use it, which has taken just a few days in my experience.
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MusOpen is an online resource for music that falls into the public domain (AKA it’s completely free) so anyone can download and use it for whatever they want. It looks like mostly classical work here, but there are some notable composers such as Mozart and Bach. If you need some good piano music, definitely check this one out, this is perfect for slow moving slideshow edits.
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Op Sound. Yes, that is really their logo. I recently discovered this one, which has a cool design aesthetic that is a departure from a lot of the other sites on this list. Their library consists of mostly CC licensed tracks, as well as some public domain. The quality of the few that I have checked out was pretty good. Make sure to check the license type on what you download, as it may require your final video edit to be used under the same type of license when you post it online.
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Live Music Archive. This is a HUGE database of live recordings of bands. Maybe you’ve heard of the Smashing Pumpkins, Grateful Dead, or Ryan Adams? They all have tracks here that are available to download. The license is for non-commercial usage only, and because these are live recordings, the sound won’t be studio quality. This is still pretty awesome if you’re looking for popular music!
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Free Music Archive. I haven’t used this site yet, but some other content creators I’ve spoken to highly recommend it. The FMA site has a library music with many tracks covered with CC licenses and they even have some tracks that are considered to be in the Public Domain. There is plenty here available for free download, just check on the license for each track before using it.
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Sound Click. This website was kind of tough to navigate with all of the ads, but it seems to have over 35,000 tracks available for download once you register an account with them. You can search by Creative Commons licensed tracks, and the columns show what the license covers and what it doesn’t. I haven’t used this one before, so I can’t vouch for the quality.
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The Vimeo Music Store. Released in 2011, Vimeo provides a simple approach to an online store to provide music for content creators. If you search by what tracks are free, you will find that there are thousands of tracks that are available under CC licenses. The user interface isn’t as good as some others when it comes to searching, but there is a lot of usable music to be found here. They do sell some music tracks for just a couple of dollars, which isn’t very much at all compared to some of the pay sites I’ve seen.
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Other notable websites you might want to check out for free tracks;
Purple Planet
Jimmy G
Dan-O Songs
DL-Sounds
Free Music for Videos
Derek Audette
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Pay-to-use Music Sites

 

UniqueTracks. This is an affordable option for some solid stock music tracks. I’ve purchased several from here in the past and they keep their licensing pretty simple, buy selling a ‘direct’ license. It’s not CC so you don’t have to worry about making your own work available under CC, and you can use it for pretty much whatever you want. Single tracks start at around $40.
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Premium Beat. A friend of mine who makes videos for George Washington University swears by this service. Quality music at $30 a track, with some options for :30, :60, and full lengths for a bit more money. They have a slight variance in the licensing depending on your distribution, but it’s pretty easy to decipher and pick just what you need.
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The Music Bed. This provider can be a little pricey compared to others, but a slick site layout and high quality tracks make this site one that I check when I need top-notch music. They offer a different pricing structure depending on use, ranging from about $50 for a Wedding Video use, to $500 for Indy Films. Non-profit Internet video licenses (I read this as: Youtube videos) are $80. Their one catch is that you cannot use ANY of their tracks for broadcast media or paid advertising.
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Digital Juice. This company offers a lot of different stock content, including videos, motion graphic templates, and royalty-free music tracks. I’ve purchased some of their ‘Stack Traxx’ sets, which are unique in that you can actually manipulate the different instruments in each track using their proprietary software. Like a song but the rhythm guitars are too loud and the chimes are annoying? Simply click and that instrument is muted. Very cool. Prices range from about $30-$100 for a set of about 40 tracks. (They run deals often, so I’d suggest waiting for one of those if you want to buy a set)
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Beatpick. This is a European site with a decent library of tracks to pick from, with custom licensing options. I haven’t gotten anything off of this site myself, but I will be using it in the future, since they offer free licenses for non-commercial projects. Other licenses can run anywhere from $100-$500 depending on your work and where it’s going. Be mindful of the license terms, as copyrights may vary from one country to the next.
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Royalty Free Music. This is your standard stock music site. I’ve got a few tracks from here in the past that were OK, pretty much what you’d expect for stock music. Tracks are about $10-$70 each, and they offer subscriptions if you’re into that. (Unless you’re doing a bunch of videos at the same time, a subscription might not be that good of a deal for you)
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Triple Scoop Music. Their library has over 10,000 tracks available for use. Reasonably priced licenses run about $60 for non-commercial, with custom quotes for commercial projects. One of the cool things about this site is their licenses cover world-wide use, unlike some other providers.
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You License. Another site that I haven’t used, the site seems to try to make the process as easy as possible, and provides different prices for different pieces, depending on your intended use. I’ve heard that you can find some good deals on here for quality music, but most of what I found while searching was in the $100-$500 range.
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Other notable pay-to-use sites;
Production Trax
Audio Network
With Etiquette

A word about music copyright: I can’t condone using copywritten music for your online video projects. Not only can you have your video taken down, but it is violating copyright law to use it without permission. Any paid projects you may get in the future will almost certainly not allow for it, unless they have a music budget to purchase popular music (easily tens of thousands of dollars). While there are some circumstances where you can use copywritten music for educational projects and non-profit ventures, this can be a tricky area and I’d suggest doing your homework and seeking professional legal advice before using it.

Creative Commons has several different licensing rules, be sure to check as they are not all the same! Lastly, don’t be afraid to contact local or even nationally known artists to use their music. If you’re doing a non-profit project, what’s the harm in trying to convince the copyright owners (record labels usually) to give you a synchronization license? Modern artists can sometimes be open to making music available for other creative interpretation. Just don’t expect Coldplay or Kanye West to give out their stuff for you to use for free. Happy hunting!

(Some of the aforementioned sites were found using this listing by Jeff Baker at Seabreeze Computers, so thanks to Jeff for posting those)

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27 Comments

also a great one is http://freeplaymusic.com/

Mike Wilkinson's picture

Thanks for mentioning that one, I completely forgot about it. Freeplay music has an enormous library, I've actually got an entire hard drive from them with that library (which wasn't cheap but my client approved it). It can get a little pricey depending on the license period, but generally if you contact them they can work out a quote for you and it's pretty easy.

Great list! I think the hardest thing about a video is finding music that fits the video that we can use legally. And music/sound is 80% of a video/movie.

Another one is http://soundcloud.com/

Mike Wilkinson's picture

Dave, thanks for adding this. SoundCloud seems like it definitely has some options. Just so readers know, you have to search tracks using the advanced options to limit search results to show only CC licensed music. I didn't see download buttons for all tracks either, so you might need a (free) account to get those.

Photofide - Dave, that's why I personnaly choose the music before starting the editing, then fit the editing to it..

for open source audio, archive.org is good.. http://www.archive.org/details/opensource_audio

Lauren Jonas's picture

one I use is grooveshark.com

Lee Morris's picture

I hope this is you trying to make a joke

Mike Wilkinson's picture

I checked out grooveshark, and it doesn't seem to be the kind of site where you can get CC licensed music... Just wanted to note this here in case other readers were looking for even more places to go for music to use... this is not one of them.

Lee Morris's picture

Fantastic info here! I had no clue about any of these. 

Merwen BA's picture

Very nice article Mike.

Nice Topic: on audiojungle.net i also find some nice songs. They are not for free... but i like them

I've been using Kevin MacLeod's music at Incompetech.com - his music is GREAT and his CC terms allow commercial use on every single track, so you can monetize those YouTube clips. That, and he's a nice, approachable guy ;)

Eric's picture

Big fan of Smart Sound and Sonic Fire Pro here.

You can check http://www.themusicase.com
Great royalty free music tracks and also it has an iframe version where you can test live the project at http://www.themusicase.com/iframe/

THE IDIOT ONE's picture

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Royalty Free Music from Smartsound  - http://www.smartsound.com/royalty-free-music/free.html - has over 3500 tracks of all genres of music.  All customizable with their software for length, arrangement, and instrumentation.  Very user-friendly.  Also has free tracks for You-tube or other non-commercial use, including education.

I think <a href="http://www.soundtaxi.net/en/" rel="nofollow">Soundtaxi.net</a> has some of the best music around, not free but it's worth it!

Hey, there is also another site which is really nice and is for every music lover.

It’s Muslate.com – http://www.muslate.com

Muslate.com provides a unique platform to all music lovers where they can Listen, Uplaod and Share their music.

I am using it since last 3 months and i am loving it. The interface is simple but so effective.

Sven Kristofferson's picture

Easiest way to download free music

http://tracktourmusic.com/

Michael Musco's picture

You guys might appreciate this article: Best Sites to Buy Stock Music 2014 http://www.dayinthelifeofacommercialmusician.com/2014/03/best-sites-to-b...

Thanks for info! I also use royaltyfreemusic.eu Only $2.99 per track and sound dead professional. Martin Driscoll

Amurco Music's picture

Also check http://amurco.com/ for Music & Media Licensing Solutions

You might also try MusicRevolution.com http://www.musicrevolution.com , an online marketplace for royalty-free music with nearly 40,000 affordable, high-quality tracks. MusicRevolution.com has also created this page of royalty-free music tracks that are free to use: http://www.musicrevolution.com/free_production_music/ I am the co-founder.

I'm new to the forum but hope I can provide some useful info, advice and a resource for GoPro music that will be of value to users.

We're a royalty free music library, and provide our own collection of GoPro Music which you can find here: http://bit.ly/1SmSD0O

When using music in your YouTube videos, or any online avenue/platform there's a few points to consider:

1. Will it be flagged as using copyright material?
2. Will you be able to monetize it?
3. Will ads be placed alongside your content?

The simplest method is to license legitimate royalty free music that offers you a full license to use the music in the content you produce, monetize it if you wish, and not claim copyright on your content.

There are 'free' resources out there that offer 'free' music. This can end up kicking you in the butt because:

1. It's free until you try and monetize it
2. It's free but the music creator will monetize YOUR content
3. It's free, but the distributor doesn't have the rights to assign to you and a third party may claim copyright
4. It's free, but the creator will place ads alongside your content either for competitor products or services

I've also written an article here (http://bit.ly/1KoAmh2), addressing popular YouTube myths and misconceptions about music licensing which might prove 'some' users with some useful insight into the process.

In short, like anything else there are cheaper solutions, and more premium solutions but in order to ensure you content will go online without copyright issues, full monetization functionality and no interference, it's always best to license music from an established royalty free music library. Word of mouth from those with experience using their preferred library is always helpful, and I hope this info from us will help also.

Check out our royalty free GoPro music for a hand-picked collection of high energy, inspiring and action packed music for use in GoPro videos.

daniel beja's picture

Hello ! you can also try http://www.musicincloud.com for nice royalty free music i make :) :) real instruments & good quality i hope !! :)

You can also check this one http://www.buydigitalstuff.com