When you're editing a video for yourself or for a client, it can be hard to find that perfect music that adds exactly the right emotion, rhythm, and mood. If you don't have a big budget for licensing a famous song, the challenge becomes even harder. To help my fellow video makers out there, I want to share a few roylaty-free music sites that have become my go-to sources for music.
Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech is the very first music site I learned about, and years later it's still one I keep coming back to. His site may not have the eye-catching visuals of some other music sites, but he has high-quality music with styles ranging from creepy carnival to classic opera. (And his descriptions of the music are great too.)
Britain's hauntingly beautiful music has been used in thousands of videos and films. His website is easy to navigate and preview audio tracks. I love his style, and his music could work extremely well for a variety of projects.
Audio Network is pretty much the Ikea of the royalty-free music world. It has every type of music you could possibly want! It's also easy to get lost (in a good way) through the pages and pages of music tracks. The great thing is that each track offers several variations with different instrumentation. The site is also helpful in recommending similar tracks: "If you like this, you might also like this, this, and this."
Okay, if Audio Network is the Ikea of music sites, Hussalonia is the super-underground, indie hipster shop where a man with a beard and a knit cap sells you something 'herbal.' Seriously though, Hussalonia - which is actually a band - puts most of their music directly into the public domain. They have a fascinating philosophy, and a website that's worth a visit even if you aren't looking for music. Their music is quirky, vocals-driven, and a little addicting. For a particular type of project, Hussalonia may have just what you're looking for.
Like Audio Network, Music Bed is another large, comprehensive music site, but it has more of an indie feel than Audio Network. It's tagline is 'Curated Content for the Exceptional Creative.' One of its best features is that before you buy a track, you can download a version of it that has an audio watermark, and test it out within your edit project to see if it will work.
While it's not a very large collection, Bensound has a nice variety of royalty-free music that's really fun to listen to. His website is great - there's an image and short description to go along with each and every track, and there are clear navigation buttons to different genres.
This is the only .org on our list, and like Music Bed, this has more of an indie vibe than some of the others. There's lots of non-mainstream stuff here, and some very fun mixing of genres. Not everything is available for use in videos, so check out their FAQ page for full details. But they have a handy-dandy 'Music for Videos' page to make things easier to find.
Did you know that Vimeo has a music store? Well they do! Like most things with Vimeo, the site is easy to use, attractive to look at, and it offers an extensive library of tracks.
I know what you're wondering, how much does music from these sites cost? Royalty-free does NOT equal cost-free. Some music on these sites IS cost-free, or free for certain types of uses. Be very mindful of the different types of licensing agreements on each site. Even if you can download a track for free, it does not necessarily mean you can use it in any project for free.
If the license does allow you to use the song free of charge, sometimes it will requires you to give credit to the musician. That's a good thing to do anyway, even if it's not required. Also, many of the sites offering cost-free music accept donations.
What are your go-to music sites? Or even better, do you collaborate with a musician who does custom compositions for your projects? Let me know, and I will add them to the list!