It might surprise you, but choosing the right music for your video can completely determine how successful your project is. Think about it… In films, commercials, and web ads, music sets the mood and plays on emotion. Sure, that must be easy to whip up when you have Hans Zimmer on your team. What about you, though? This article explores the best royalty-free music sites to help guide you in selecting the best music for your video.
Maybe you need something simple for a business video, a track that sounds professional, but not too corporate. Do you know where you can find something like this? There are millions of songs to choose from, so how do you know which one will work best for your video? And how do you know if royalties are owed?
These are great questions so let's quickly talk about what royalty-free music is before we go into the best royalty-free music sites.
Royalty-Free vs. Free
Royalty-free doesn’t mean that music is free or that you own the rights. "Royalty-free" refers to the fact that the person who licenses the song is not required to pay a royalty and the copyright to the work is not yours. The person who composed the music owns the copyright and that owner of the copyright can decide whether or not you can use their music. This is why you can't use any song you want in your video.
Luckily, some of the best royalty-free music sites out there take care of the behind-the-scenes licenses and have stock libraries full of music for you to choose from. Now that you know what royalty-free music is, let's look at where you can find it.
Best Royalty-Free Music Sites
Artlist uniquely approaches stock music pricing. While many royalty-free music websites charge per track license, Artlist charges a flat yearly subscription fee. This gives you unlimited access to their extensive stock music library (which includes over 30,000 songs and 60,000 effects!). That annual fee includes usage for broadcast content, which can save thousands of dollars if you're producing broadcast TV spots. By the way, this pay-once pricing model offered by Artlist is ideal for high-volume video agencies looking to reduce production costs.
Oh, did we mention Nike, Wix, Netflix, Google, and other companies that have used Artlist? Plus, every week, Artlist adds new songs, giving you plenty of new content to choose from regularly.
Pond5 is also well-known for being one of the leading stock video sites, with a large collection of stock music and sound effects in their library. They are a must-visit resource as one of the best royalty-free music sites.
While they don't provide any free stock music, the quality of their library is so high that it's worth spending a portion of your budget on it! Their plan allows you to download tracks from their stock music library, which contains over 900,000 tracks (ranging from cinematic scores to dynamic pop!).
Pond5 has a great selection of royalty-free music for thirty-second video projects, so this could be a good place to start if you're working on short-form videos, inspirational videos, or commercials.
Music Vine is quickly taking the competition by storm as one of the best royalty-free music sites.
Because they’re newer to the stock music scene, their library is not quite as expansive as others. That said, Music Vine provides the same level of high-quality music at a lower price. Music Vine states that part of its mission is connecting emerging content creators with the best royalty-free music for their videos.
And let's talk about their plans, shall we? For smaller-scale productions, like corporate videos and content marketing, Pro-Lite (starting at $19.99 per month) probably works best. The Pro Standard subscription costs $35.99 per month and allows full permission for marketing, ads, and content.
The coolest thing about PremiumBeat is they have music you won't find anywhere else. Why? Because they value quality over quantity and vet every new addition to their stock music library. Premium beat has one of the better search tools we've used to help find music, and most tracks include loop sets and stems to simplify editing.
But don't worry. Just because they've been vetted doesn't mean their options are limited. They provide both classical and contemporary music tracks for royalty-free licensing.
You can get 5 tracks per month for $12.99 per track ($64.95/month) or subscribe and save more than 70%. This is perfect for video agencies that produce 5 or more videos per month.
There’s no need for licensing concerns with Epidemic Sound. Like Artlist, all you need is a single subscription (whether Personal, Commercial, or Enterprise). And their trial period is 30 days (you can cancel any time!).
They also have a very unique tool that allows you to clear YouTube videos on the fly, which is helpful if you’re creating videos that will be used on YouTube channels other than your own.
Again, you won't have to worry about royalties here, which makes it another of the best royalty-free music sites. Epidemic Sound's catalog has over 35,000 tracks with Beats, Electronica & Dance, Hip Hop, and Pop as the most popular genres.
The entire Bensound library is licensed under Creative Commons, but it's worth noting if you don't want to credit him you'll need to purchase a license (which ranges from 34€ to 139€, depending on the plan!).
fyrfly connects you with the top ten artists (like Bruno Mars!) via a membership pricing model. Like with anything else, you must read the fine print. You can’t license their songs for use in a music video and there are extra fees for using the properties in commercials and other video projects.
Custom Score vs. Royalty-Free Music
What if, after hundreds of searches, you don't find anything that quite fits? You could be stuck finding the perfect piece or looking for something more unique for your brand that’s not in the sea of stock music.
Fortunately, there are a lot of aspiring composers out there who would love to have their music featured in video projects. And the majority of composers have recording studios at home where they can write and record, as well as consult on virtual discovery calls.
What is the advantage of hiring a composer vs. using royalty-free music from a stock library?
Composers understand the relationship between music and video
It’s no secret the best royalty-free music sites are filled with amazing artists. The challenge is finding a piece that follows the pace of your script as well as the mood you want to convey at exactly the right moments.
Composers can help you stand out
Imagine your favorite television show or a certain commercial. The music alone would help you recognize them. This type of audio branding has been the backbone of many successful ad campaigns.
You can save time by using a composer
With a custom score, you won't have to search through endless music catalogs to find something that you still have to remix to work with your video. By telling the composer exactly what you want, you can spend less time searching and more time making your vision a reality.
So, where can you find a composer? There are plenty of websites where musicians can showcase their talents or offer their services (such as LinkedIn, Music Gateway, or Fiverr). But here are a few to start you off:
Russ Davies – Davies is a renowned British musician, composer, and producer. In his modern compositions, Russell uses a variety of methodologies and genres and has composed music for TV, film, and games for companies such as Amazon, Sony Playstation, Calvin Klein, and more.
Billy Moffat – A rave review by A&R Factory states, “Moffat's ability to compose a score will put your rhythmic pulses under instant command”. Billy Moffat's compositions have been used in a variety of multi-media productions, including conceptual music videos, book trailers, radio segments, and talk show theme music.
David Fairfield – Among his many projects, David Fairfield has written music, designed sound, and performed voice-overs (including six video games for Disney!). David's currently working on a wide range of projects, from AAA games to indie games and commercials.
Reg Length – Music by Reg Length has been featured in award-winning short films, as well as the BBC. Reg's style is ideal for those seeking an ambient feel, combining electronic, acoustic, orchestrated, and field recordings/sound design elements.
Have a look at a video produced by Levitate Media where we worked w/ Russ Davies (see above) to add in a custom music score to the video we created:
The best thing about royalty-free music is you can find a lot of options and alternatives to fit your budget and video needs. Have you thought of any that we should consider adding? Let us know in the comments!
Get in touch with Levitate Media today if you’d like help creating your next video or getting help with advice on custom music vs royalty-free music selection.