Where Do I Find Royalty-Free Music?

By Bryan Baker, 2016-04-27
Where Do I Find Royalty-Free Music?

A fellow graphic artist and voiceover creator Alex, asked me where he can find royalty-free music for his voiceovers.

Google came to mind immediately for me since I've used its royalty-free beds a number of times for my corporate videos. But there are thousands of sources on the interwebs aren't there?

Are there?

As you really get to looking it seems that "royalty-free" is not always royalty-free or even free at all. If you look closely at the licenses of the places advertising royalty-free music you always seem to find something in the fine print that makes it not so royalty-free. And you often actually have to pay to use the music without royalty which doesn't really make sense, but it does at the same time. 

Welcome to the music business.

Sometimes you can use music in youtube videos but not in podcasts. Sometimes it's vice versa. Sometimes attribution is required, sometimes it's requested. The devil is hiding in the details and you don't want the devil calling next year with a bill -- so pay attention to the details; look around for the licensing pages on any website from which you're downloading music.

As you begin creating things which utilize source material, you'll need a way to keep track of it. Collaborating with experimental musicians at Tapegerm presented itself with a need to find a way to log all of the collaborators involved in my music, so I developed something of the sort for homemademusic.com. You can use it as part of the Supporting Subscription to keep track of all of your attribution and other credits as well.

While a lot of royalty-free music is available to use with a simple attribution, this won't work for uses where attribution just won't work, like for a voiceover. I guess you could slip it in there creatively and make it work, but it's probably likely you don't want to do that. In many such cases, a license is available for usage without attribution for a price. Be sure to understand when that is the case and pay as needed.

So when you're looking for music to use in your projects, be sure to check the licensing agreements. Make sure the agreements specifically lets you use the music for exactly where you're using it. If there is any question, ask.

Having said all of that, here's a growing list of places to find royalty-free music. If you have more to add to this list, let me know and I'll add it. If you find this list helpful, link to it on your website. I like links on your website. I like linking to your websites too.

Google has a good variety of music in its Audio Library, but you can only use it in videos and nowhere else, so my friend, Alex, is out of luck there. It was created as a source of background music for Youtube creators.

tapegerm.com has royalty-free loops you can use to construct music beds. Check out the Projects pages. Tapeworm is an experimental music collective so the sounds there aren't the usual variety of background pablum.

bensound.com has a good selection and wide variety of music beds you can use for various purposes. Podcasts are oddly excluded from the allowed uses. Probably voiceovers too.

incompetech.com has a large selection of music of varied styles with lots of search parameters. There are lots of ads too, but you're sophisticated. You can deal with it. It would hurt to click one if you're interested would it?

The Music Bakery has a lot of music. Each piece costs a little bit to use, but it's a one-time charge. Make sure to look at the license since it doesn't allow for certain uses. But for stuff like video and podcasts and voiceovers and other things, you're good to go probably. Said the non-lawyer dude in a blog post.

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